Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie heads into his first SuperDraft as an MLS coach declaring he is "pretty confident the club will be able to get a couple of good players." The Whitecaps hold the second overall pick ahead of the draft in Kansas City on Thursday (Noon et/9am pt live on TSN2).
"At the moment we are expecting to use that pick," said Rennie, speaking to TSN from the MLS Player Combine in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. "It is nice for me to be here and know that we have got a chance to get one or two of the players that we like.
"We are rebuilding a team that finished last in the league last season so we have got needs all over the field. We have added some good players already and are close to adding some more, but our philosophy is to find the best players available that fit into our system. We don't need to decide just yet, we have got a few more days to make our evaluations but if we get it right we can find a really good player."
While Rennie believes his club can benefit by using the second overall pick, he isn't ruling out trading it if the opportunity arises to make his squad better. "At the moment we are expecting to use that pick but we are always open-minded. If someone comes along between now and the draft that might change, but at this moment in time we are focused on making a pick second overall."
This is a new experience for Rennie. During his time coaching in Cleveland and Carolina, the new 'Caps coach would attend the MLS Combine and SuperDraft as an interested observer with a view to scooping up any players left behind by MLS teams.
"In the past when I would come to the combine, it was always with a view to the players that wouldn't get picked," Rennie explained. "My strategy was also to look at the players who may be available in a couple of years knowing that they were unlikely to become a first team regular. That worked quite well with players like Daniel Paladini. He came to us in Carolina and did well and then went back to MLS."
Whomever is picked by the Whitecaps on draft day, Rennie is well aware that it takes a special type of player to be able to make the step-up straight from the college game into Major League Soccer, so he's not only looking for talent, but also the right character.
"I think the season that they play in college is intense but very short. There is a big transition period there. There is also the factor that most of these players are the most gifted on their college team and the go-to guy, but that's probably not the case on an MLS team so it is also important how they handle that."
The Whitecaps need to look beyond the SuperDraft as they put the finishing touches to their 2012 roster, and on Friday, Rennie strengthened Vancouver's defence with the signing of Martin Bonjour. The 26-year-old has been on the Whitecaps' radar for some time and has played in his native Argentina as well as Uruguay, Peru and Poland.
"We are really pleased to get him," said Rennie. "We have been working on signing him for a while now. He had interest from a number of other clubs but decided to come to Vancouver. He has experience at the top level in South America and we think he is a guy that can help us. He is tall, powerful and aggressive as well as being good on the ball."
The 2012 MLS SuperDraft will be broadcast live on TSN2 on Thursday, January 12 at Noon et/9am pt. Join Luke Wileman and Noel Butler for a live chat on TSN.ca.