Coach Jason Kreis acknowledged that Real Salt Lake picked midfielder Jarad vanSchaik of the University of Portland in the third round of the MLS SuperDraft on almost a lark, based largely on what others had told the team and a short interview before the draft.
"Everybody tells us he has the potential to be great," Kreis said. "With the 52nd pick, you can afford to take sort of a gamble."
The 6-foot-1 vanSchaik is a fast, left-footed midfielder who hails from the same Oregon high school — Tualatin, south of Portland — that produced legendary Brigham Young University running back Luke Staley.
The year after former teammate Collen Warner joined RSL from Portland, the 22-year-old vanSchaik started all 16 games for the Pilots last season, leading the team with eight goals and three assists. He was named to the All-West Coast Conference first team for the second straight season, after starting all 23 games for the Pilots as a junior alongside Warner.
The Pilots did not have as good a year last season as they did when Warner and vanSchaik were together, though, finishing 9-4-6 — vanSchaik scored the game-winner in a season-ending 1-0 victory over unbeaten Santa Clara — and failing to reach the NCAA Tournament.
The previous season, they finished 12-6-5 after losing to eventual national champion Virginia in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
It's worth noting that while the odds of vanSchaik sticking with such a deep and experienced team are fairly long, you don't have to go back to far to find another third-round draft pick who pulled it off.
Defender Chris Schuler not only made the club last season after RSL picked him out of Creighton University in the third round of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, but blossomed into one of the team's most promising young players with some standout performances before suffering a broken foot that ended his season in September.
Coach Kreis said Schuler has been recovering well from his injury, and is already back in Salt Lake City working with team trainers and doctors to be ready for the season. "Hopeful that he will be able to start training right away when we do" in a little more than a week from now.
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