Orlando City’s off-season is in full swing. Head Coach Jason Kreis is traveling all over the world scouting players to bring in for next year’s squad. Meanwhile, there are still talents domestically that will be coming out of college in just a few weeks.
The 2017 MLS SuperDraft is set to take place on Jan. 13 out in Los Angeles and, currently, Orlando City has the eighth pick overall. Most likely, the teams focus in drafting players will be directed towards the defense and midfield. There are quite a few solid options in this year’s draft, but here at The Mane Land, we’ll be breaking down a few players that have caught our eyes and could be very good fits for the Lions for 2017.
The first player that we’ll look at is one that is currently in his redshirt senior year at the University of North Carolina, Walker Hume.
Who is Walker Hume?
Hailing from San Angelo, TX, Walker — a defender — and his twin brother, Tucker — a forward — graduated from Westlake High School in 2012. While looking for colleges to go to, the brothers wanted to go to a school where they could both play soccer together. One of their family friends, former Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath, pointed them to Rollins College, where his friend Keith Buckley has been plying his trade for 26 years.
Walker and Tucker began starting for the Division-II school and through two years, they were thriving. With that success, bigger schools came calling. UNC offered both brothers a spot on its roster and so the two decided to transfer.
Since then, Walker and Tucker have continued to find success. Tucker has been the leading goal scorer for the Tar Heels for the last two seasons. Walker, after sitting out the 2015 season with injury, played 15 games in 2014, has started every single game this year, and is projected to be a first-round pick in the upcoming MLS SuperDraft.
Buckley was asked about Hume and his time at Rollins and said, “Walker and his brother Tucker had a massive impact on the (Rollins) program for two years. Walker is an excellent center half and is a very potent threat from set pieces. I am sure he will have a very successful professional career in soccer.”
What the Numbers Say
Over the course of his collegiate career, Hume has started 74 games combined between Rollins and UNC, scoring 20 goals, notching 10 assists, and logging the most minutes played on the team in the process. Through this season, Hume’s defense has helped the Tar Heels record 13 shutouts and they are currently in the College Cup semifinals and set to play the defending champion, Stanford, on Friday.
The Tar Heels defense, with Hume manning the back line, has been rock solid this year. Hume and the back line have only allowed 10 goals on the season. They hold the best shutout percentage in the NCAA and are tied for second in shutouts.
Height and Footwork
Hume stands at a very commanding 6-foot-5, dwarfing most of the players around him. Being that tall, he is easily able to win aerial battles from most attackers and can out-jump most of them as well.
Despite being so tall, Hume has excellent footwork. At Rollins, he was utilized as a sweeping center back, covering most of the back line in order to provide more attacking going forward. He was also good at distributing the ball into good attacking positions, often putting long balls forward into dangerous spots.
Hume is also confident with the ball at his feet. Often times center backs aren’t poised in controlling the ball, but Hume is one who can go in for a tackle, win the ball, and dribble out of danger and into a counter attack.
Obviously, being a 6-foot-5 center half has its advantages on set pieces. Now, as Orlando goes into 2017 without Seb Hines, the Lions’ only true set-piece threat, it makes sense to bring in someone who can thrive in those situations.
What sets Hume apart from other players at his position is that he attacks the ball in the air. He is aggressive when it comes to corners and has good positional awareness to know where he can put the ball. His head is a dangerous weapon, but he also has an adept right foot that can strike the ball with pace.
Where Does He Fit?
Obviously, Orlando needs depth defensively. Currently, Orlando has Tommy Redding, David Mateos, Conor Donovan, and possibly José Aja (pending contract purchase after loan). Hume is a player that has loads of potential and intangibles. If picked by Orlando City, I could see him starting out at OCB and becoming an occasional MLS starter by the end of the season.
For reference, here is a highlight reel showcasing his talents from the 2014 season. (He wears No. 37 in the video)