Parents Sherwyn and Margaret Welshman were more excited than their son Emery, who Toronto FC selected 16th in the 2013 Major League Soccer (MLS) SuperDraft last week.
Aware that the striker stood a good chance of being picked in the first round, the Mississauga residents made the trip to Indianapolis for the annual draft that allow MLS teams to select college graduates.
“We definitely wanted to be part of the event, but we just could not believe it when Toronto picked him,” said his father. “We were on cloud nine. We will see all of his home games and he has many friends, family and supporters who will get the opportunity to come out and see him play professionally at BMO Field.”
Prior to selecting Welshman, Toronto FC acquired the 10th overall pick in the draft along with allocation money in exchange for the fourth pick. The city team then sent the 10th pick to Seattle Sounders FC for the 16th pick and allocation money.
Toronto FC’s new president and general manager, Kevin Payne, said Welshman is a superior athlete with a great deal of potential.
“He’s strong and fast and has the ability to support the team out wide or up front,” said Payne.
Welshman’s parents, who migrated from Guyana in 1988, said their son has always been a Toronto FC fan.
“He has a few friends on the team, including Ashtone Morgan whose mother is Guyanese-born,” said Welshman’s dad. “He’s in an environment where he should be comfortable.”
The youngest of three children, Welshman has been playing the sport since age five. He spent three seasons with Erin Mills Soccer Club and six years with Brampton East before joining the Sigma Elite Training Centre program.
A 2009 graduate of Loyola Catholic Secondary School, where he was the team’s Most Valuable Player in his junior and senior seasons and the Student Athlete of the Year in his final year, Welshman split the last four years at Siena College and Oregon State University.
“Emery went to Siena because it was closer to home among other things,” said Sherwyn Welshman. “However, he left because he felt they are not in a strong conference and it did not attract a lot of scouts. Oregon has a bigger profile and they had also offered him a scholarship when he came out of high school.”
The 21-year-old striker appeared in 35 games for the Oregon State Beavers, scoring 13 goals and adding 11 assists. He was named to the First Team All-Pac side in 2011 and 2012 and led the Pac-12 Conference in goals scored last year.
The exciting young forward also turned out 35 times for Siena College, netting 19 goals and six assists. Three seasons ago, he was the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year and leading goal scorer.
Welshman, whose uncle, Frank Bispham, is a retired Guyana Defence Force colonel and founding member of Pele Soccer Club, admitted he was a bit anxious during the draft.
“It was one of those twilight moments when everything slowed down for a little bit,” he said. “It did dawn on me that it would just make complete sense if Toronto was to pick me. My mom was telling me she had a feeling that Toronto would have done it at #10, but then they traded it off. I had a bit more of a feeling when they traded it off that it could be to see if I would fall to them.”
Toronto FC used its third overall pick to select Oakville midfield player, Kyle Bekker.
Jamaican striker, Jason Johnson, was picked 13th by two-time MLS Cup champions, Houston Dynamo. The 22-year-old, who made his international debut for the Caribbean island two years ago, is one of four Jamaicans on the Dynamo roster.
He joins 2011 All-Star striker, Omar Cummings, who was drafted in the third round by Colorado Rapids six years ago, defender Jermaine Taylor who has represented Jamaica 53 times and midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson.
BY RON FANFAIR