In the pre-Draft statements Chris Henderson thought that the draft went about five deep in difference makers. Eriq Zavaleta was one of those that Seattle Sounders FC considered in that top five, but trading up was too costly. Seattle acquired him anyway as other teams differing draft order pushed Zavaleta down to a place where the Sounders could afford his acquisition.
"With Eriq it was a situation of trading up into the top five or six picks and that was just too costly," Sigi Schmid explained during Thursday's conference call, "but then when the eighth pick had been made and he hadn't been picked we started looking around and thinking that maybe a trade could be made here and we don't have to give up a ton to move up those six spots which we were able to do. To get Eriq in was a nice surprise for us."
In Remick they gained the rights to the player who they rated as the best left back in the 2013 class. That combination earned Seattle the highest rating of top end teams from the 2012 season.
Zavaleta is a unique player. In his two college seasons he was one of the better scorers in Division 1 of the NCAA scoring 28 goals with 9 assists. But the Sounders see his likely future at centerback. Part of that may be bloodlines. His father was a defender for the El Salvador National Team and uncle Greg Vanney was not just a strong defensive player for 13 years, he was also one of Sigi Schmid's projects converting from collegiate attack to pro defender.
"I've had good success with players," Sigi answered about shifting Eriq to the backline. "Chris Albright was a forward in college and I moved him to outside back and he wound up playing on a World Cup team. Eriq's uncle, Greg Vanney, came to me at UCLA as an attacking midfielder at UCLA wound-up at left back and ended up on the national team and playing in Europe as a defender. There's some history for it and Eriq's father played as a central defender and his father feels that's his best position as well. So we'll see how it goes in training."
"I think I'm comfortable on the ball. I like to be on the ball. I'm a big guy, so I like to use my body. I like to get in the air and win balls in the air and hold stuff off and be able to use the things that I have," Zavaleta scouted himself. "I'm pretty big on being able to use what I have and not exposing the weaknesses I have."
In the second round the Sounders added another defensive player. Dylan Remick's Ivy League roots should prepare him for the mental aspect of the game. The pace-of-play adjustment is the hardest in the leap from college to pro, but the Ivy League is more cerebral and should help him adjust.
"The Ivy League is definitely a different style of play. I think it helps me in the intellectual aspect of the game. There are a lot of smart kids in the Ivy League and both coaches and players take pride in trying to outthink each other before we even step on the field," Remick said during his conference call. "That's an area I think I've improved dramatically. I don't know that I'd be able to get that experience from another league. It's also a very physical league and that will help me in mls. It's a bone-bruising league, I would say the technique is not as great as some of the powerhouse leagues, but the competitiveness and spirit really help me in terms of growing as a soccer player. It also helps you being an underdog against all these other teams. It prepares you for the college and mls game."
Remick, like Zavaleta, played centerback prior to college. It influenced how he plays the game and he stated that he takes pride in the one-v-one defensive battles unlike many fullbacks who would rather just focus on the offensive side of the game. He is not a shutdown fullback though. He provides offense.
"He's the type of player that likes to get forward. Brown's not known as an offensive power house so if you are an outside back and get seven assists you are probably doing pretty good for yourself," Schmid said about Remick.
College stats do not directly translate to MLS success, but two goals and seven assists from a left back is a nice number. In fact, Dylan Remick scored two goals in three of his four college seasons at Brown. Remick was at Seattle's Vegas Combine. Unlike the last Sounders' Ivy League pick he will be joining the team immediately. Like the last Sounders' Ivy League pick he will graduate at the end of the Spring session.
Both players were praised as much for their soccer knowledge as they were for their physical abilities. That may be an indicator about the picks coming up in the Supplemental Draft next Tuesday. These are not flyers based on athleticism, but instead whether two young men can adapt how they think about the game to the next level.