Schillo Tshuma selected in MLS SuperDraft

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WASHINGTON — The Portland Timbers expected forward Schillo Tshuma to be long gone before they ever had a chance to make a pick in Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft.

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But when other teams passed over the 21-year-old University of Maryland forward, the Timbers gleefully snagged the Generation Adidas signée with the 17th overall pick.

“For me, he was one of the better young, attacking players in the draft,” Timbers coach Caleb Porter said. “We had him projected to go in the top five. To get that calibre of player with the 17th pick is fortunate.”

Tshuma was one of three players selected by the Timbers in the first two rounds of the SuperDraft. Portland also took University of Washington centre back Taylor Peay and UC Riverside midfielder Aaron Long. The Timbers will make their final three picks (Nos. 39, 71 and 73) in the SuperDraft on Tuesday, January 21, via conference call.

Tshuma has followed the Timbers closely over the last couple seasons and Portland has grown into one of his favourite teams in MLS. When he looked up on the board and realized he was being drafted by Portland, Tshuma was ecstatic.

“When my name was called, I sat in my chair a couple seconds and let it sink in,” Tshuma said. “Then I realised it was really happening. It’s one of those moments that you realize your dreams are coming true.”

Porter said earlier this week that the Timbers would be looking to snag an attacking talent in the draft and Tshuma, a very quick and creative forward, certainly fits that bill. Tshuma is a versatile player that can create chances playing out on the wing on either the left or right side, Porter said. At the University of Maryland, the five-foot-10 forward scored 16 goals over two seasons.

While Porter said the Timbers can be patient and let Tshuma develop as a player, he added that he wouldn’t be surprised if the forward makes a case for playing time this season.

“He fits into our system,” Porter said. “He’s a dynamic player. He’s very quick and very skillful. We were looking for an exciting, attacking piece and we got one.”

Tshuma grew up in Zimbabwe dreaming of one day playing professional soccer. His life changed in 2008, when he was given the opportunity to move to the suburbs of Washington DC to play soccer and pursue his education as part of a partnership between the charity Grassroot Soccer and elite boarding school Episcopal High School.

In high school and at the University of Maryland, Tshuma worked hard to become an attack-minded player with speed and a good touch. He hopes to prove he can be a scoring threat for the Timbers.

“I feel so lucky,” Tshuma said. “Portland is a great city. They play beautiful soccer. I’m excited to work with Caleb Porter because he’s a great coach. He turns players into great players.”

Generation Adidas players are often highly coveted in the MLS SuperDraft because they do not count against an MLS team’s salary budget.

The Timbers had considered taking Peay with the 17th overall pick that they used to take Tshuma. Instead, they were able to wait until the second round and draft Peay with the 26th overall pick.

—The Oregonian