FRISCO, Texas -- The NCAA has reached the College Cup this weekend at PPL Park in Philadelphia and for the fourth straight season, FC Dallas first team assistant coach Marco Ferruzzi will be on hand to scout the best of the best as final preparations begin for the 2014 MLS SuperDraft.
No team ever wants to be given a high draft pick for obvious reasons, but with the #5 overall pick in January's draft, Ferruzzi is optimistic that FCD can find someone who can make a solid impact on the first team. There's certainly a solid track record as FCD has had three top-five picks since 2005, and turned two of those into players who would go on to suit up for the national team in Zach Loyd and Brek Shea.
"I think if you look at drafts in the past where we’ve picked up players around those picks like Zach Loyd, I think we will find a player that’s going to contribute and identify a player who will be good for the club and good for the league," Ferruzzi told FCDallas.com. "Of course, there are still decisions to be made with Generation adidas and which players are coming out, but in terms of the players we’re tracking, I don’t think there will be any surprises for us. We know the player pool very well."
While the College Cup is certainly a priority event that every MLS team will be monitoring closely, for Ferruzzi, this weekend's games in Philadelphia are the cherry on top of what is an extensive four-year process of tracking many of the MLS hopefuls wrapping up their college careers.
"The [College Cup] is something different. You see them in the most competitive games of the year," said Ferruzzi. "Good quality and the good thing is we’ve been tracking these teams all year long. If you can track New Mexico for four years and see a guy like [senior center back Kyle] Venter and then see him in a final game, it brings a lot of closure for you as a scout. Because you could see something nice as a sophomore, junior and then you don’t get to the opportunity too much to see the culmination in a final weekend, so that’s exciting as a spectator."
"If it’s a miss here or there, you have to put that into perspective and that’s why our tracking of players is not over a single weekend. This being the final weekend though, sure you’d love for them to knock it out of the park and confirm everything you’ve been seeing throughout four years that he’s going to hit it and continue to rise and now he’s ready."
This weekend's College Cup has an added bonus as it gives Ferruzzi another chance to see one of FCD's brightest Homegrown prospects with Mikey Ambrose and Maryland playing in the NCAA's final weekend for the second straight season. The Terrapins starting left back, Ambrose captained the FC Dallas Under-18s to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy national championship in 2012 and was named to the ACC All-Freshman Team last season, notching an assist in their College Cup semifinal loss to Georgetown. In his sophomore season, Ambrose has started all but one game for Sasho Cirovski's side, earning All-ACC Third Team honors.
"Consistency and progression [are what we look for] and Mikey certainly embodies all those things," said Ferruzzi, who has coached Mikey in numerous Reserve League games. "He did that while he was here and then went to Maryland and you look there, it’s a great conference producing three teams in the final four and it’s ideal. He’s a very significant player in that conference as is Boyd [Okwuono] and you say they’ve continued to push their level in the college arena in that conference."
Fellow academy alum Nick Rochowski and New Mexico kick off the College Cup on Friday as they'll face Notre Dame at 4:00 PM, with Ambrose and Maryland battling against Virginia at 6:30 PM. Both games will air live on ESPNU.