We recap an eventful first MLS SuperDraft for new Portland Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese.
What a contrast 12 months makes. This time last year, the Portland Timbers entered the draft with the fourth overall pick, which they used to select Jeremy Ebobisse.
However, this year the Timbers had no first round pick after previously trading their 2018 selection to Sporting KC, in exchange for defender Lawrence Olum. In fact, this year represented the first time since joining MLS in 2011, when Portland held no picks in the first two rounds of the MLS SuperDraft.
As a result, the draft was a baptism of fire for new head coach Giovanni Savarese. Let’s run the rule over the Timbers’ four picks:
Round 3 (61st overall) Caleb Duvernay – defender (5 ft 7, 160 pounds)
Caleb Duvernay had the honor of being the Timbers’ first pick in this year’s draft. As a left back he comes with two extremely valuable assets: durability and discipline.
Duvernay started and completed all 18 games for North Carolina State last season. Even more impressive, he did not receive a single yellow or red card all year.
The 21-year-old helped the Wolfpack advance to last year’s NCAA tournament, as they had their best season since 2013. He played in 67 games (including 65 starts) during his four years at North Carolina state.
Duvernay twice earned ACC Academic Honor Roll recognition, following the 2014-15 and 2015-16 academic years. As per Timbers.com, he was previously a member of the U-15 and U-17 U.S. Men’s National Team Residency Program.
Round 3 (63rd overall) Timmy Mueller – forward (6 ft 3, 195 pounds)
We all know it’s usually more unlikely for players drafted in the third and fourth round of the draft to make the team. However, Timmy Mueller has at least one advantage over the majority of people in his position.
That’s because the Timbers are already aware of what Mueller is capable of. He played six games for their Under-23s side during the 2016 season, scoring four goals in the process.
It also helps that Mueller is extremely familiar with the area, after spending four years with the Oregon State Beavers. In 67 games with the team, he totaled 23 goals and 10 assists.
The Post Falls, Idaho native also showed a penchant for stepping up in pressure situations, equaling a school record with 10 game-winning goals. His resume also includes being named 2014 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and selected as a member of the 2015 All-Pac-12 first-team.
Round 3 (64th overall) Stuart Holthusen – forward (6 ft 1, 150 pounds)
As with Mueller, the odds are against Stuart Holthusen having much impact with the Timbers. Regardless, there’s a lot to like about him,
Holthusen put up some extremely impressive numbers during four years at the University of Akron. In 78 career games (including 52 starts) he totaled 31 goals and showed his potential as an all round forward, with 14 assists.
As per Cantonrep.com, the 22-year-old had a career-high 12 goals during his senior year — including five game-winners — along with three assists. He was also a four-time All-MAC recipient during his college career.
For what it’s worth, Holthusen has had success at the international level for New Zealand. He has scored seven goals in 14 appearances for the Under-17 and Under-20 teams.
Round 4 (87th overall) Mamadou Guirassy – forward (6 ft 1, 190 pounds)
Despite being the Timbers’ last selection, Mamadou Guirassy is arguably their most intriguing pick. It also alludes to Portland’s desire to find more attacking options, despite leading the Western Conference in goals last year.
In that respect, Guirassy makes a lot of sense as a low round gamble. He is coming off a season where he led the New Jersey Institute of Technology with a career-high 16 goals, (while adding three assists).
As per Timbers.com, this led to the 22-year-old earning the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Golden Boot Award. He was selected as the 2017 ASUN Conference Player of the Year.
Guirassy finished his college career as NJIT’s all-time leading scorer in NCAA Division I play, with 26 goals in 70 games (including 49 starts). He also has experience at the international level, with Guinea’s under-20s team.
What is your analysis of the Timbers’ draft picks this year? Which of the four selections do you predict has the best chance of being successful in Portland? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.