PHILADELPHIA (CP) — As Lucas Stauffer prepared to pose for photos with Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson at the MLS SuperDraft, the 22-year-old Creighton defender leaned in and told his new boss: ”I’m going to prove you right.”
Robinson, a feisty former Welsh international with no shortage of swagger, liked what he heard.
“I said ‘You know what, you should use that motto as you start your footballing career now. Because it’s beginning now.’”
The Whitecaps opted for depth at the draft Friday, taking University of Washington fullback Justin Fiddes in the first round (17th overall) and Stauffer in the second (26th overall).
Robinson hopes they follow in the footsteps of former draft picks Tim Parker and Jake Nerwinski. Vancouver, which has gone through more than a few fullbacks, started Canadian international Marcel de Jong and Nerwinski there in last season’s playoffs.
Fiddes (pronounced fit-iss) can play left and right fullback and is very quick. He led all players at the MLS Combine in the 30-metre dash with a time of 3.84 seconds.
“He’s got a good footballing brain. He’s comfortable on the ball. He can cross the ball,” said Robinson. “Modern fullbacks are built like him. We’re excited.”
Fiddes started 62 of his 70 appearances in four years with the Huskies, collecting one goal and 10 assists. As a senior, the San Diego native won USC (United Soccer Coaches) Second Team All Far-West Region and Honourable Mention All-Pacific 12 Conference honours.
Whitecaps captain Kendall Waston welcomed Fiddes to the fold, posing for photos with the new recruit.
“It’s unbelievable,” said a wide-eyed Fiddes. “I’m so happy to be picked up by Vancouver … This is a dream come true.”
The San Diego native is already a walking advertisement for Vancouver.
“I love that area. I love the rain. And I love Vancouver the city.”
The five-foot-11 160-pound Fiddes say his preference is left back but he is “very comfortable” on both sides.
Stauffer is also a versatile defender, able to play fullback or either side of a back three. With a big personality to boot.
Robinson loved his interview with Stauffer.
“I think sometimes when you do the interview process, people tell you want you want to hear. He didn’t. He was open and honest. And he explained what he was good at and what his weakness were.”
At five foot six and 168 pounds, Stauffer has had to fight for everything he’s got. Creighton was the only school that recruited him and he hasn’t shed the chip on his shoulder.
“I’m not very big but I do have good technique and I have a soccer brain,” Stauffer said. “And I have a mentality that won’t let me not succeed.”
Prior to college, Stauffer graduated from Shattuck-St. Mary’s Academy and played for Denmark’s Vejle Boldklub at the under-19 and reserve level.
He had nine goals and 12 assists in 86 career appearances for Creighton and twice won All-Big East Conference First Team honours. The native of Owensboro, Ky., is also the youngest player to play on the U.S. men’s national futsal team at 16.
“I’m a soccer junkie. I try to never stop learning,” said Stauffer. “And this is just the first step.”