Toronto FC: Brandon Aubrey Could Prove to be a Steal

Jan 13, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; A general view of the stage prior to the MLS SuperDraft at the Los Angeles Convention Center Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 13, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; A general view of the stage prior to the MLS SuperDraft at the Los Angeles Convention Center Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /

Such has been the turnaround in the fortunes of Toronto FC during the last years, they were able to select a defender previously projected as a top-five pick.

Heading into the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, Toronto FC were not expected to do particularly well, given the that they would be selecting 21st in the first round. In the end though, things couldn’t have gone much better, with Brandon Aubrey unexpectedly falling into their laps.

Yes, Aubrey had a terrible combine this week in Los Angeles, but it doesn’t change the fact he was previously projected to be a top-five pick. When TFC saw he was still available with the 21st pick, they immediately snapped up a defender they considered to be in the top three at his position.

As for the 21-year old himself, he admits things worked out well. Speaking to the Toronto Sun‘s Kurt Larson, he said: “I expected to go higher.

“I didn’t have one of the greatest combines. (However), the great thing is when you go at a lower pick, you’re going with one of the better teams.”

Aubrey may not be the most athletic of players, but his physical presence should prove to be an asset at the back. He’s intelligent, passes the ball well and is tough to beat in the air.

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As Aubrey told Sportsnet‘s John Molinaro: “I position myself properly, and I like to think I read the game very well. Also, (I’m) a good threat for set pieces and balls in the air.”

Greg Vanney says the University of Notre Dame graduate will be given every opportunity to earn a spot on the roster. However, the Toronto FC head coach also believes he could benefit from playing for TFC ll.

Speaking to Larson, Vanney said: “Only his performances will determine how long or how slow that process is. We’ll see once we get him in.

“He has the tools to be a good, strong centre back and he fits in with our group. He’s a focused kid with the opportunity to have a long career.”

Regardless of how quickly Aubrey develops, his selection fills a need for TFC, who lost Mark Bloom and Josh Williams during the off-season. Further, even though they didn’t interview him during the combine — they didn’t expect him to be available for their pick — he was still near the top of their list.

As general manager Tim Bezbatchenko told Molinaro: “We were a little bit surprised. Some say he didn’t have the best (MLS combine) but the way we look at it, the combine is just one or two games.

“He was one of the top centre backs in the country, so when we saw he was still available, it was a good for us. We feel he can play in MLS sooner rather than later.”

One of the most intriguing aspects of this story, is that the Plano, Texas Native started out as a striker. He only transitioned to centre back, during his first season at Notre Dame.

When Aubrey made the switch, he made a point of studying four-time MLS All-Star, Matt Besler. If he can perform anywhere close to the same level as the 2012 MLS Defender of the Year, TFC will have one of the biggest steals in draft history.

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What’s your take regarding Aubrey? Do you believe TFC did well to get him, or are you concerned about his poor showing in the combine leading up to the draft? Share your thoughts in the comments section.