Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Trading with Toronto FC to move up six picks, Seattle Sounders FC selected Indiana's Eriq Zavaleta in the first round of the SuperDraft. He is a versatile player who fits two needs on Seattle's roster.
Seattle Sounders FC needed a forward and a center back, and it got both in the same 2013 MLS SuperDraft pick. Indiana University's Eriq Zavaleta starred for the champion Hoosiers in the 2012 College Cup and assisted the winning goal in their 1-0 win over Georgetown in the final.
Zavaleta, 20, scored 18 goals in 24 games his sophomore year. He signed a Generation Adidas contract with MLS on Jan. 7.
Seattle traded its No. 16 pick and allocation money for Toronto FC's No. 10 selection to take Zavaleta. He operates mostly as a target forward, but he has the ability in the air to play as center back as well.
He started at center back on Day 2 of the MLS Combine, and he was a mainstay in the back with the U.S. under-17 national team. This balance will help him make an early jump from the college game to MLS.
At 6 feet, 1 inch, he isn't the biggest player at either of his preferred positions, but he still holds the ball up well and facilitates opportunities for those around him. His runs are dynamic, and he is good with the ball at his feet.
However, his potential at center back is unexplored. His ability with the ball at his feet is uncharacteristic of Seattle players at the position, and his technical ability is not something seen in many MLS central defenders.
Here is a short highlight video from MLS that showcases some of his goalscoring celebrations (see if you can spot a Sounders FC inspiration):