With an eye toward the future beyond 2014, the Portland Timbers picked a speedy attacker, a versatile defender and a midfielder in Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft.
The Timbers first pick was No. 17 overall. They selected Schillo Tshuma, a forward and attacking midfielder who is known for his speed and creativity. He is a Generation Adidas player, meaning his salary will not count against the Timbers 2014 salary cap.
The Timbers were surprised Tshuma was available at pick No. 17. Tshuma was one of four Generation Adidas players available for this draft. Generation Adidas contracts with MLS are offered to select college underclassmen who give up their remaining eligibility, but in addition to their salary receive scholarship money to complete their degree.
“He was one of the best players in college over the last several years,” said Timbers coach Caleb Porter “It was a no-brainer, because he fits first and foremost the way we play.”
A native of Zimbabwe who went to high school in Virginia, Tshuma had 16 goals and three assists in 49 games over two seasons at Maryland. Maryland advanced to the national semifinals in 2012 and lost in the national championship match in 2013.
Tshuma, 21, played alongside national college player of the year Patrick Mullins, who went to New England with the 11th pick.
The Timbers had two picks in the second round. With the 26th overall pick, Portland chose Washington Huskies central defender Taylor Peay. The 6-foot-2 Peay was a four-year contributor on defense for the Huskies and a first-team all Pac-12 defender after helping Washington to the 2013 conference title.
It is the second year in a row the Timbers drafted a Huskies defender. A concussion ended the rookie season for 2013 draft pick Dylan Tucker-Gangnes, who was released after the season.
With their third pick, No. 37 overall, the Timbers chose Aaron Long, a midfielder from Cal-Riverside who did not participate in the MLS scouting combine. A four-year starter at Riverside, Long finished with 13 goals and five assists in 71 games for the Highlanders. Long played three seasons with FC Tucson in the Premier Development League.
“We feel like we have a very experienced team, a lot of depth,” Porter said. “So we were looking for players that we could bring along and players who fit the way we play and we got that in all three.”
Two members of the Timbers 2013 under-23 PDL squad were drafted on Thursday. Defender Eric Miller from Creighton University went fifth overall to Montreal. Forward Mark Sherrod out of Memphis went 35th overall to Houston, four picks before the Timbers third pick of the day.
The SuperDraft is a chance for MLS clubs to select available college players and some young international players. The third and fourth rounds will be held on Jan. 21. The Timbers hold three more picks, including the first pick of the third round.
As a Generation Adidas player, Tshuma is almost certain to make Portland’s roster this season. The others will be competing for a roster spot when training camp opens in late January.
“I’m looking forward to working with these players and having the opportunity to develop them, as this is a very important part of our club mission and to our succession planning,” Porter said.