It wasn't the draft pick FC Dallas fans expected but at the end of the day it was one that Schellas Hyndman and his staff could just not pass up. FC Dallas did the right thing in drafting arguably the best player available in center back Walker Zimmerman.
The Furman center back and Generation adidas signee was expected to go as high as No. 1 in the draft on Thursday, but once New England selected Andrew Ferrell from the University of Louisville, Zimmerman began to slide. Most figured he was a target of the Colorado Rapids but once the Rapids selected Deshorn Brown, it was evident that all bets were off for FC Dallas.
For the forth straight year in the SuperDraft Hyndman takes a defender. This also marks the second straight second that he took a pure center back.
Now Zimmerman is a big guy, a six-foot-three, 185 pound beast of a 19-year old (he'll be 20 in May). He is a very athletic guy for his size and is a big prospect for the future. But what probably stood out to Hyndman were his leadership qualities. One scout told me he was a big time leader at Furman even as a 19-year old. He'll knock you down but help you right back to your feet. He is that kind of a stand-up guy. Character guy as Hyndman would put it.
The few times I was able to watch him this past year he showed me how intelligent he was on and off the ball. Strikers can press him but he is quick to read the game and track back fast enough when he is beaten.
He is also in the youth national team spotlight. He captained Under-18 national team at the 2011 Milk Cup and is in the running to be a starting center back for the U20 team this year in the World Cup (FC Dallas has another center back in their youth ranks that make start with him in Boyd Okwuonu).
Zimmerman missed the Combine this past week with what doctors originally diagnosed as a groin strain at the tail end of the college season last fall, and he admitted Thursday (to MLSSoccer.com) that he could miss the first few weeks of FC Dallas preseason training with inflammation of the pubic bone and pelvis.
Was he a gamble? Sure, but I look at this as a move that Hyndman and the staff had to make. Zimmerman is young and does go against the ol' "we don't want young players" mode that we heard so often out of Hyndman - but when you get a potential national team prospect like this to fall into your lap you have to take it.
For more on Zimmerman, here is MLS's piece about him: