Who exactly is Tsubasa Endoh? Here is a look at who Toronto FC’s ninth overall pick is, where he’s from and if he was a smart pickup.
With all the confusion that was the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, it was an exiting day. The way the Philadelphia Union managed to get three top six picks is incredible. Also the Chicago Fire made some nice moves at picks one, four and 12.
Moving past the Union and the Fire, TFC had the ninth overall pick, and decided to kind of move off the board with their selection. Tim Bezbatchenko, Greg Vanney and Bill Manning, along with the rest of the Toronto FC staff, decided that University of Maryland winger Tsubasa Endoh was the best available player at number nine.
Some can argue that there were other options, but I for one am glad that they decided to draft a winger, since that’s an area we are weak in. Endoh has spent the last four years at Maryland after moving to America from Japan. Endoh is a product of the JFA Academy in Fukushima. He has represented Japan in all youth levels.
Endoh didn’t put the absolute best numbers up in the NCAA, but had a decent career with the Terps. In total he managed 12 goals and 16 assists in 85 games, not the worst stats. He was also named the Most Valuable Offensive Player in the Big Ten. According to SBI’s final mock draft predictions, they listed Endoh as a mid second rounder. Before that, he was projected as a mid-third rounder. Others like Matthew Doyle of mlssoccer.com said that Endoh was also a second round pick that could have been selected in the first round.
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Endoh put in a very impressive combine, showing his clever footwork and skill on the wing. Which is why TFC elected to draft him. When asked by Sportsnet’s John Molinaro, head coach Greg Vanney mentioned that, “With the group that we’re looking at, we’re going to look for the best player who best fits how we want to play the game.” Meaning Endoh was seen as the best player in the eyes of the TFC management team, since many consider him to have had one of the more consistent performances in the combine. His passing will need work, but that can be taught.
Vanney went on to say that, “A lot of guys [available in the draft] are going to need a touch of time to become difference-makers in MLS or become guys you can rely on.” It is very likely to say that Endoh will be sent on loan to TFC II during the season so he can become more comfortable in a professional North American atmosphere, something he wasn’t use to in the NCAA.
Was picking Endoh at number nine a good pick? I think it was since Endoh proved to be one of the best in the combine and pushed his stock up. He addresses an area in which the team needs help and even though he’s not the fastest winger, he looks to make up for that with smart plays and decisions.