With the Portland Timbers holding the 5th spot in the 2014 MLS Superdraft, the team should be able to pick up a good young talent for the future or perhaps a solid player that could step in and contribute right away. The Timbers, however, do not have a great history of utilizing their draft picks.
So, would the Timbers do better to pick up someone with the 5th pick, or would the team be better trading the pick away?
First, let's look at the 5th overall picks in the last four years since the Timbers joined MLS.
Since the Timbers entered the league in 2011, the 5th pick in the draft has yielded several solid talents, but has been far from a lock in terms of the talent provided.
2011: Zac MacMath (Philadelphia Union)
One of Philadelphia's stable of starting-quality keepers, MacMath has played 103 games for the Union since stepping in after an injury to Faryd Mondragon. Although he is still developing as a player at only 23 years old, MacMath has been a boom or bust prospect for Philly, with the prognosis changing on each shot he faces.
Despite his inconsistency, MacMath is undoubtedly a talented enough player to be starting in MLS and one whose combination of talent and ceiling remains high enough that he may be worth the current occasional blunder.
2012: Casey Townsend (Chivas USA)
Of the recent 5th picks, Townsend has to be considered the biggest bust. After a year with Chivas USA and another with D.C. United, scoring one goal in 26 appearances as a forward, Townsend was released and spent 2014 in the NASL with the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Townsend was a hard-working forward in college on a fearsome Maryland team, but he had the ill-fortune of playing on two of the worst MLS sides in recent history.
Townsend may have had the talent to hang in MLS under different circumstances, but he was never going to thrive in the unfortunate environments at Chivas and D.C.
If Townsend is the bust on this short list, then Hurtado, a Beaverton native, is the success. After a slow first year with the Whitecaps in 2013, Hurtado became a regular part of the Vancouver attack this year, putting up five goals and three assists in spot duty across the Whitecap's three-man forward line.
Although there is still plenty of time for Hurtado to flame out, his speed, inventiveness, and versatility in the attack make it likely that he will be a regular contributor in MLS for quite some time.
2014: Eric Miller (Montreal Impact)
The former Timbers U-23s player was thrown into the fire early on this year and was a regular starter for the Impact throughout 2014. Of course, he was starting at right back in MLS's 3rd worst defense, so that may not be something to brag about.
Still, to find a player that can step in and contribute immediately, particularly when a team has as many issues as the Impact did this year, is vital.
Would you be happy with any of these players as the Timbers' draft pick?