Following United's selection of Jordan Graye with the 55th pick in today's SuperDraft, Head Coach Curt Onalfo spoke to the media. Here's what he had to say:
Q: What are you first impressions of Jordan?
Onalfo: He’s a guy that’s played leftback, rightback, he’s very athletic. He ‘s a strong and a local kid, and we’re looking forward to bringing him into the team – he has a good shot to make our roster.
Q: He came through your youth system, correct?
Onalfo: Yes he did, he played several years for our Super-Y U-20 team. And again, he’s a local product and someone who we have watched closely – both myself and Kris Kelderman at D.C. United over the last couple of years, and we felt like he was an excellent choice, especially given the issues Brian Namoff has had with his concussions and possibly having a little delay to the season, so we look forward to seeing how he [Graye] adapts. Just like any player coming from the college to the pro game there is a big jump and some players can make that jump quicker and better and we will see how he incorporates with our group one we get him in, and we’re looking forward to seeing him.
Q: Do you suspect that he would have been drafted before this late pick came up for your guys?
Onalfo: Yeah, we thought he was a player that would go. He’s a player that played in the ACC, which is talked about as the most difficult conference in the United States and he played at the Final Four which gets a lot of exposure, but we knew that people knew about him - but often when you don’t get in the combine you get forgotten a little bit. Hopefully he is a diamond in the rough for us, and we’ll see how he does.
Q: How do you feel about giving up the first round draft pick versus bringing back Troy Perkins?
Onalfo: At the end of the day priority number one for us was to get an excellent goalkeeper, and Troy Perkins is that. He’s a guy that was goalkeeper of the year in our league and had great seasons here at D.C. United, and for the last three years the team has had some inconsistency at that position. For us, going into the season knowing that Josh Wicks is injured, that [acquiring a keeper] for us was priority number one. Now we have other issues to address as a team, we gave up 44 goals last year, and we want to make that better. The less goals you give away the more games you win, and getting Troy Perkins was an important stepping stone – a great step in the right direction.
Q: How important is versatility back there in an ever-changing position just to know you have one guy you can count on?
Onalfo: Absolutely, and not to mention losing Ben Olsen you are losing leadership, so that [leadership] is something Troy will bring to the team as well. He’s certainly somebody we are happy to have back with D.C. United, and it’s a great step forward in getting this team back on track.
Q: How does trading away Fred affect the attacking evolution of the team?
Onalfo: Fred is a player that we like and unfortunately we had to move on, but that’s part of this business. Unfortunately he struggled last season and even a little bit the season before, and you also have to look at the cost-effective players. The players making high salaries have to be putting up big numbers, and that was not the case [with Fred]. We feel very comfortable with our decision-making process and we are comfortable with the players that we have with this group, and the players we are going to be bringing to this group this season.