A smart, skillful forward whose stock fell in 2013 despite leading the University of Akron in scoring with eight goals in 18 games, Reinaldo Brenes could be a huge steal for the Portland Timbers with the 17th pick in the 2014 MLS Superdraft. Caleb Porter wants players with high football IQ's who are able to learn his system, so who better to bring in than a player that he coached in college? Even better, since Porter took over the Timbers, the emphasis has been on bringing in high-character players who will fit the team dynamic and, as once of Akron's captains in 2013, Brenes definitely fits the bill.
Although he has not put up huge number of goals historically, maxing out with eleven goals for Akron in 2012, Brenes is a player who is capable of playing as a second striker position or being deployed in a more advanced, pressuring role, similar to what we saw out of Maximiliano Urruti in 2013. The Timbers do not necessarily need a player up top who will contend for the golden boot, but someone who can cause problems for opposing defenders and work within the Timbers system could go far.
The biggest knocks against Brenes seem to be that his smaller frame (he is generously listed at 5'10" and 155 lbs) may not stand up to the rigors of MLS play. However, despite a mid-season injury in 2013 that kept him out for four games, Brenes started each of the eighteen games he played in last season.
What the Timbers will be looking for in the draft: With the 17th pick, the Timbers are likely looking either a player that could step in and contribute or a player with a high ceiling. This late in the first round it is unlikely that they will be able to get both. Coming off a season when they finished first in the Western Conference, the Timbers can afford to invest in the future with this pick. Where on the field most needs reinforcement is a subject of some debate around Portland, but with only three forwards currently on the roster, one of whom, Jose Adolfo Valencia, is strongly rumored to be on his way out the door, the Timbers should bring in a player who can provide some backup to Urruti.
Who the experts say the Timbers will pick: In the first batch of mock drafts to hit the internet everyone had the Timbers taking Aodhan Quinn with the 17th pick in the draft. Another Akron forward, Quinn's hot senior season and versatility on the pitch (he can play in the midfield as well) would make him a good fit for Porter's interchanging offense.
Why I’m invariably wrong: If any current coach in MLS should know the college soccer landscape right now, it is Porter. He may have shown a clear predilection for bringing in former Akron players to the Timbers so far, but Porter is nothing if not a pragmatist, and if there is someone else out there that would better fit his vision for the team, Porter would not hesitate to pass over his former forward.
Why I’m smarter than the pundits: At the 17th pick, there just is not going to be a player with more talent available than Brenes that has already shown that they can fit into the system that Porter wants to play. Porterball requires players that are skilled and able to play their role, but it also requires players that understand how their role fits into the side as a whole, a trait that is surprisingly uncommon.
Full Mock Draft results
(click on player names to see the profiles)
|1. D.C. United||Black and Red United||Patrick Mullins|
|2. Philadelphia Union||Brotherly Game||Steve Neumann|
|3. Vancouver Whitecaps||86 Forever||Andre Blake|
|4. Columbus Crew||Massive Report||Steve Birnbaum|
|5. FC Dallas||Big D Soccer||Christian Dean|
|6. Union||Brotherly Game||Marlon Hairston|
|7. Whitecaps||86 Forever||Damion Lowe|
|8. Chicago Fire||Hot Time In Old Town||Grant Van De Casteele|
|9. San Jose Earthquakes||Quake, Rattle and Goal||Eric Miller|
|10. Montreal Impact||Mount Royal Soccer||A.J Corrado|
|11. Colorado Rapids||Burgundy Wave||Schillo Tshuma|
|12. New England Revolution||The Bent Musket||JJ Koval|
|13. Seattle Sounders||Sounder at Heart||Aodhan Quinn|
|14. LA Galaxy||LAG Confidential||Fifi Baiden|
|15. Toronto FC||Waking the Red||AJ Cochran|
|16. Houston Dynamo||Dynamo Theory||Mamadou Diouf|
|17. Portland Timbers||Stumptown Footy||Reinaldo Brenes|
|18. Real Salt Lake||RSL Soapbox||Ben Sweat|
|19. Revolution||The Bent Musket||Marco Franco|
|20. Chivas USA||The Goat Parade||Enrique Cardenas|
|21. Sounders||Sounder at Heart||Taylor Peay|
|22. New York Red Bulls||Once a Metro||Pete Caringi|
|23. Crew||Massive Report||Pedro Ribeiro|
|24. Toronto FC||Waking the Red||Joey Dillon|
|25. Union||Brotherly Game||Jared Watts|
|26. Timbers||Stumptown Footy||Kevin Cope|
|27. Union||Brotherly Game||Kyle Venter|
|28. Earthquakes||Quake, Rattle and Goal||Mackenzie Pridham|
|29. Impact||Mout Royal Soccer||Jimmy Ockford|
|30. Whitecaps||86 Forever||Nikita Kotlov|
|31. Revolution||The Bent Musket||Victor Chavez|
|32. Dynamo||Dynamo Theory||Kristopher Tyrpak|
|33. Rapids||Burgundy Wave||Rafael Diaz|
|34. Red bulls||Once a Metro||Alex Martinez|
|35. Rapids||Burgundy Wave||Zach Bolden|
|36. Timbers||Stumptown Footy||Mark Sherrod|
|37. Impact||Mout Royal Soccer||Michael Calderon|
|38. Sporting Kansas City||The Daily Wiz||Romena Bowie|
Who would you have taken with the 17th pick?