With the 13th pick in the 2014 MLS Superdraft, the Chicago Fire select.... defender Marco Franco from the University of California Irvine.
Name: Marco Franco
Hometown: Chino Hills, CA
College: UC Irvine
Height/Weight: 5'11"/155 lbs.
Here is the report on him from MLSDraftScout:
Marco is developing into a complete player. He's as comfortable attacking as he is defending, and he uses his excellent speed to get forward often. Adds a great dimension for his team when joining the attack. Very good on the ball in the buildup, and is capable of hitting cross field switches.
He dribbles a little too much in the final third, which causes him to either lose the ball, or beat multiple defenders. All or nothing at times. Would like to see him challenged more defensively. Will be interesting to see how his game has progressed this upcoming season, particularly his defense. Strong chance he will be selected in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft.
(He) Was forced to move to center back in 2013, which probably hurt his immediate future but helped his long term potential. His defensive awareness and tackling improved, which will help him become a complete right back. He probably won't play much center back as a professional, and is projected to be an attacking right back in MLS.
Even through Marco Franco played centerback this past year, it still did not prevent him from winning the 2013 Big West Defender of the Year award.
Here is what the MLSsoccer.com scouting report had to say about him:
WHAT COACHES SAY: "Played right back first three years and played centerback this year ... Versatile. Very good player. Calm on the ball. Technically clean, can play with good possession, shows good control of the ball. Quick enough, can hit the longer pass as well ... Probably a right back in MLS ... He can definitely push up. He's got some quickeness to him. Composed and quick. ... He had a good year this year as a centerback and they moved him there out of necessity. But he's a better outside back. He got forward as a right back and that was one of his best qualities to join in the attack ... Has no major weakness. Good and solid in all areas. Has speed, ahtleticism and good feet. ... Better at this age than Sean Franklin was. More skillful, better going forward, just as fast and good in the air. Pro material ... Good 1-v-1 defending, and can pass the ball really well. ... Great technically. Very smart. Very efficient with his play."
Right off the bat, Franco improves the depth of the right side of defense. With Jalil Anibaba on the move to Seattle and only Lovel Palmer and Steven Kinney competing for a spot in the starting XI, the rightback position for the Fire is wide open. "I think the goal is definitely to make the team and hopefully get some playing time. I definitely think I can come in and challenge for a starting spot," Franco said in a conference call with the media on Thursday.
He considers himself an attacking rightback, and thinks he will fit in with the attack minded soccer that head coach Frank Yallop wants to play.
He also likes chili dogs.
Here is Franco's highlight video from UCI: