SUPERDRAFT: Frank Yallop coy about 13th pick but might not be done adding center backs
PHILADELPHIA -- SuperDraft day is upon us and following Wednesday night’s trade with Seattle, the Chicago Fire hold the 13th overall selection in Thursday’s annual selection process (11am CT on ESPN News).
The night before taking part in a draft said to be full of quality center backs, Fire head coach Frank Yallop felt it more important to acquire two veteran defenders in Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni and move down five spots in the draft order, rather than select another young central defender.
“I didn’t want to risk not getting one what I really wanted,” said Yallop. “I think you go into the draft, you’ve got young kids they’re going out and you don’t know how they’re going to respond to the pressures of the big game. So you’re taking two proven players in our league was too much not to entertain.”
Even with four starting quality, veteran center backs now currently at his disposal, another center back could be in the offing for the Fire, though Yallop was understandably coy when asked what other need he might be looking to fill.
"The draft this year is pretty strong but it's pretty even," he said. "Picks 1-25 are pretty much across the board. Each team is going to pick for their needs. There's no outstanding candidate that's (definitely) going to go number one.
“I probably think we won’t take a center back but you know what, I’ve looked a few of them in this draft, so don’t be surprised if we do. It probably opens us up a little more to get an attacking player but I’ve got a good list of guys, there’s some good players I’m excited about and hopefully they’ll be there at number 13.”
If not a center back, perhaps the Fire can acquire additional depth at right full back on Thursday. With Jalil Anibaba's departure, offseason acquisition Lovel Palmer goes into the season as the team's starting right back with Steven Kinney as his understudy but the former Elon University defender's past injury issues could understandably be a cause for concern for Yallop.
After taking a long look at the 2014 draft class at this week’s combine, one thing did stick out for the first-year Fire manager in terms of earlier additions this offseason, that being the acquisition of Homegrown forward Harry Shipp.
“Looking at this draft, signing Harry Shipp was a good move. In the crop this year, Harry would have been potentially in the top five to three [picks]. It’s a great pickup for us and I’m very pleased with what our Academy, Larry Sunderland and his guys are doing.”
Add to that the Homegrown signing of defensive midfielder Chris Ritter earlier this week and the Fire already have one of the strongest rookie classes going into the 2014 MLS season.
Catch the 2014 MLS SuperDraft LIVE from Philadelphia Thursday beginning at 11:00am CT on ESPN News with continuing coverage on MLSsoccer.com