By AVI CREDITOR
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The expansion Montreal Impact made Duke centerback Andrew Wenger the first selection in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft, taking the versatile, U.S. Under-23 defender with its first-ever draft pick.
Wenger, the 2011 MAC Hermann Trophy winner, is the reigning ACC Offensive Player of the Year, a year after he captured the conference's Defensive Player of the Year honors. He plays centerback for the U-23s and projects to be a defender or defensive midfielder on the professional level.
He did not compete at the MLS Combine, as the current U-23 camp and the Hermann Trophy presentation prevented him from doing so. His prior body of work was enough for Montreal to see, though. Comfortable with the ball at his feet, a very capable distributor, a smart player who reads the game well and one who boasts polished attacking qualities, Wenger is as well-rounded a prospect in the draft pool.
Exactly where he'll play in Montreal will be figured out in the coming weeks. He met with Impact coach Jesse Marsch at the U-23 camp in Florida last month, where the two chatted briefly.
"We talked a little bit about my defending, but I don't really know what's going to happen," Wenger said. "We haven't spoken that in depth about it, but I'm looking forward to talking to him about it in the future.
"I'm honored, excited, ready to play."
Despite rumblings that Montreal was going to potentially trade its pick or use it to take Akron forward Darren Mattocks, the club opted for Wenger, the consensus all-around top talent.
Mattocks ended up going second to Vancouver, joining a forward corps that includes Eric Hassli, Omar Salgado and Camilo Sanvezzo.
"I didn't put too much thought into going 1 or 2 or 10 to be honest," said Mattocks, who scored 39 goals in two seasons at the University of Akron. "I just felt like my talent is going to do magic wherever I go."
Mattocks is the second Akron forward to be picked second overall in as many years after Darlington Nagbe was picked No. 2 by Portland last season.
The New England Revolution followed the Whitecaps by picking UCLA and U.S. U-23 playmaker Kelyn Rowe to help solve the team's offensive woes.
The next four teams went the offensive route as well, with Toronto taking UCSB playmaker Luis Silva, Chivas USA grabbing Maryland striker Casey Townsend, San Jose going after UCSB attacker Sam Garza and D.C. United landing Louisville winger Nick DeLeon.
Four of the next five picks were centerbacks, with Generation adidas signing Andrew Jean-Baptiste going to the Portland Timbers, Louisville senior Austin Berry going to the Chicago Fire, FC Dallas landing North Carolina's Matt Hedges, and Toronto taking Notre Dame's Aaron Maund. Sandwiched between Berry and Hedges was Creighton forward Ethan Finlay, who was selected by the Columbus Crew.
Two other centerbacks were taken in the first round, with Seattle taking combine standout Andrew Duran from Creighton and the Los Angeles Galaxy starting to fill the void left behind by the injured Omar Gonzalez by taking Indiana's Tommy Meyer.
The first fullback went off the board with the second pick of the second round, with Vancouver going after Indiana left back Chris Estridge. Creighton's Generation adidas left back Tyler Polak went the next pick to New England, the last GA member to go off the board.