VANCOUVER — University scouts regarded UBC’s Tommy Gardner as a potential top pick entering Monday’s CPL-U SPORTS Draft.
Pacific FC assistant coach James Merriman went one step further this week upon evaluating his club’s first round choice.
“I think he’s the best player in U SPORTS because of his technical ability and his intelligence,” Merriman said of the first-year midfielder. “He’s able to come out of difficult situations under control and composed.
“Tommy already knows where he wants to go next before he receives it. He shows high intelligence that’s complimented by his technical ability. I see a lot of potential in him.”
And, it seems, some of Gardner’s teammates.
Sitting alongside head coach Michael Silberbauer and CEO Rob Friend during Monday’s closed-door draft, Merriman explained why PFC went with a pair of Gardner’s teammates — Nick Fussell and Zach Verhoven — in Rounds 2 and 3.
“We’re familiar with these players. I’ve worked with them and watched them progress,” Merriman said. “There were a few other very interesting players in the draft but we’re happy with the players we got.
“They connect with what we want to do at Pacific FC — which is build a west coast club that connects with our communities.”
Pacific FC selected third-year attacking midfielder Zach Verhoven with the 9th overall pick, adding a wide player who’s capable of cutting inside and threatening goal.
“He’s a right-footed wide forward who comes in from the left,” Merriman added. “He has scored some excellent goals. He can be shifty with the ball and quick with the ball. He could be an interesting one in the future.”
Pacific FC added Fussell, a first-year midfielder, with the 20th pick, making it 3-for-3 from UBC.
“He’s one of the more intelligent players,” Merriman said. “He’s unassuming and might not catch your eye right away, but the more you watch him the more you appreciate the way he plays.
“He takes up great spaces between the lines and, as a central midfielder, he likes to get in behind. He can pull your shape all over the place. I think he could be a good fit for us in the future.”