Adam Montague became the latest Spartan to join the increasingly prestigious MLS on Tuesday. It had been unclear whether Montague would be drafted, but the Vancouver Whitecaps vanquished any doubts when they chose the Michigan State graduate with the 58th pick of the MLS Superdraft.
The pick was acquired via a trade with D.C. United in which Vancouver sent 24 year-old Long Tan to the Capital City for a third-round pick.
The ex-Spartan striker will have to fight to survive on a squad that had five other strikers before the draft, all under the age of 24. However, none of those players secured the lone striker spot at the head of a 4-2-3-1 formation, which is why they brought in Montague and Kay Banjo, selected in the second round.
Montague is accustomed to playing as a sole striker, the only job he held in Damon Rensing’s defensive-minded system, and knows his way around the front.
Vancouver’s lack of an established scorer up front gives Montague opportunities. He is by far the biggest striker on the roster (at 6-foot-3, 187 pounds), which should give him situational time when the Whitecaps need a game-tying header or some powerful hold up play.
Montague might have had his worst season this past season in almost every statistical category, but he did not regress. In 2014, Montague had just five goals and five assists, but had to play an increased part in the build up, staying around the halfway line to do the dirty job of holding up the ball. He played his part in contributing to Michigan State’s indomitable defense.
The opening at Vancouver is the perfect role for Montague, one he can excel in. As the Whitecaps had the fourth best defense last year, they will appreciate a striker who can relieve pressure and earn them some possession, abilities that Montague has been honing for the past few years. His transition is simpler than most other players’.
Montague will join his former teammate, Jay Chapman, signed by Toronto FC, in Canada.
Fatai Alashe, a holding midfielder, was selected fourth by the San Jose Earthquakes after putting together a second team All-American performance for the Spartans in the 2014 season.
The three Spartans to extend their soccer careers from the 2014 team, will join Rauwshan McKenzie in the MLS. McKenzie started nearly every game for the Portland Timbers in 2014, and won a spot in an MLS Team of the Week.
Being drafted, especially so late, does not guarantee a roster spot, and certainly does not guarantee playing time. Montague, one of 55 players selected to the MLS combine, will face heavy competition to stay on the team, but he has all the tools it takes to make the team. The future will bear witness to what he can build with those tools.
Isaac Constans is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.
Photo: Jonathan Yales/Impact Sports