Top draft pick ready to step into Whitecaps lineup 0
The Whitecaps' third overall selection in Thursday's MLS SuperDraft, defender Christian Dean (centre), poses with coach Carl Robinson (left) and president Bob Lenarduzzi. (VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC)
For the first time at the MLS SuperDraft, the Vancouver Whitecaps didn’t pick a forward with their first selection. Instead, defence was the focus this time around.
With the third overall pick Thursday, many had the 'Caps going with goalkeeper Andre Blake — which would fill a much-needed void in the club's lineup. After the University of Connecticut player was taken first overall by the draft host Philadelphia Union, followed by defender Steve Birnbaum going to D.C. United, Vancouver opted for centre back Christian Dean.
The 20-year-old left footer brings size — 6-foot-3 and 198 pounds — and according to some scouting reports, a huge upside.
While Sportsnet described him as "still a little raw” and needing more time to develop, the East Palo Alto, Calif. native feels he can step into the lineup this season.
"It's a dream come true," said Dean, who spent the last three seasons with the University of California Golden Bears. "I bring energy, big, athletic … and good feet. Especially at centre back, I pride myself a little bit on that. It's something I like to use to my advantage.
"I'm ready to come in and play, wherever I would have ended up. Especially in Vancouver coming into the defence, it's something that will be a possibility for me."
Dean — a Generation Adidas signing, which means his salary will not count against the cap — has experience at left back, and is open to wherever the Whitecaps try him out.
"Either one works for me," he said. "I haven't played left back in a while so I would have to adjust back into that. I love both positions, but right now I'm more comfortable with centre back."
It's the right back position the Whitecaps are in need of. Creighton University defender Eric Miller, a natural right back, was available, but the Montreal Impact traded up to select him fifth overall.
That left the Whitecaps to exercise a different strategy when their second pick of the first round, seventh overall, came around. With it, they took a creative midfielder in Jamaican youth international Andre Lewis. The 19-year-old has been lauded for his ball control and passing, giving Vancouver a playmaker for the future.
The Portmore United player — nicknamed "L.A." — said he's a fan of Vancouver because of fellow countryman Darren Mattocks, adding that he also loves the Whitecaps fan support.
"I'm just going to go there and work hard and do my best," Lewis said.
When asked to describe himself as a player, he misunderstood and talked about himself as a person, which led to a rather humorous response.
"I'm pretty cool," the youngster said. "I love to have fun with my friends, play video games. I always want to learn new stuff so that's just me.
"On the pitch, I always want to be the top player in our league. I want to be on top of my game. I'm pretty good at talking to my teammates."
With their second-round pick, the Whitecaps picked up 23-year-old forward Mamadou Diouf. The Senegal native had two goals and five assists in 14 starts during an injury-filled 2013 campaign with the University of Connecticut.
The third and fourth rounds go Tuesday.
Note: On the Camilo situation, MLS commissioner Don Garber told reporters Thursday the transfer "is going to happen" between the Whitecaps and Queretaro FC.
"Ultimately there was a good result, a high transfer fee," he said. "They'll get allocation money and Vancouver will rebuild."