New Fire coach and director of soccer Frank Yallop thinks he found a pretty good player in Marco Franco in Thursday's MLS SuperDraft.
He can't wait to find out for sure.
Yallop selected the right back from the University of California-Irvine with the 13th overall pick. The Fire did not have a second-round selection, having traded it during the summer for center back Bakary Soumare. The draft will continue Tuesday with the third and fourth rounds.
"When we watched him play in the combine and I saw him play at Irvine, he never seemed fazed," Yallop said. "He had a strong character and he didn't seem nervous. That's always good, so when you step onto the pro side you're not fazed or not as nervous as you would be if your character wasn't right. I'm hoping I'm right with this, but I think we've got a pretty good one and hopefully it works out for us and the Fire."
Franco started all 23 matches last fall and was named Big West Defender of the Year, leading the Anteaters to the league title and a NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen finish.
But Franco said he's not a one-dimensional player.
"I'm really attack-minded," Franco said. "As a right back I like to get forward."
Yallop added that Franco has pace, power and the ability to defend well.
"He has all the attributes," Yallop said.
But one attribute nobody can account for by watching a player in college, watching him at the MLS combine or by interviewing him is how well the player will adjust to the professional game. Still, Yallop said he has a good feeling about Franco, complimenting Franco for being "happy-go-lucky" and "driven."
"The goal is definitely to earn a spot on the team and most importantly earn some playing time," Franco said.
After trading reigning right back Jalil Anibaba on Wednesday, the Fire had a need for another right back. Veteran Lovel Palmer, acquired in December, will go to training at the end of the month as the best bet to win the job. Franco and Steven Kinney will provide competition, though Kinney has a long history of injuries.
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