VANCOUVER — Familiarity remains a roster-building pillar for Forge FC coach Bobby Smyrniotis.
With the first U SPORTS pick in his club’s history, Smyrniotis selected Guelph’s Jace Kotsopoulos third overall in Monday’s inaugural CPL-U SPORTS Draft.
“I’ve known Jace for the past few years watching him in U SPORTS,” Smyrniotis said. “He brings an important knack to the game that’s sometimes missing: Getting the easy goal.
“He’s always around the box, always in the play. He finishes in a variety of ways — inside the box, outside the box — and doesn’t look for the perfect goal. He’s always looking at the net — that’s important.”
Forge FC selected Montreal’s Aboubacar Sissoko 12th overall after the fourth-year midfielder from Mali emerged as a coveted pick following multiple strong performances during the Carabins’ run to a U SPORTS title.
“I did a little homework to get to know the regions outside of Ontario,” Smyrniotis explained. “He’s a player who was partially on the radar.
“Knowing some of his qualities before seeing him in the U SPORTS tournament validated some of those qualities he has shown at Montreal. I thought he was very good during the U SPORTS Championship. We’ll see how he does going forward.”
U of T’s Mark Mandekic became Forge FC’s third and final draft pick, emerging as the 17th name called during Monday’s closed-door draft.
The second-year midfielder is yet another local player Smyrniotis says he’s been following throughout this process.
“He’s an interesting player because he blends size and technical ability — which is important playing as a centreback,” Smyrniotis said.
“He also plays as a holding midfielder, showing his ball-playing abilities. That’s important to our club. Those qualities alone give us an opportunity to take a look at all three of our picks in preseason.”