THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO — Canadian Kyle Bekker has pledged his immediate soccer future to MLS.
The midfield playmaker from Boston College has signed an MLS contract, ahead of the league’s combine and SuperDraft.
For Major League Soccer, it’s a chance to secure a hot prospect. For the 22-year-old from Oakville, Ont., it’s an opportunity to start a pro career without going through the red tape of a work permit overseas.
"I’m happy to get it done and sorted and go to the combine and draft and see where I’m going to end up," Bekker said Sunday.
The MLS combine, which features more than 50 seniors and a handful of elite Generation Adidas underclassmen, opens Friday in Florida. The SuperDraft is set for Jan. 17 in Indianapolis, with Toronto FC holding the first and third overall picks.
Bekker, who has trained with the Seattle Sounders, Montreal Impact and Toronto FC in the past, ranks seventh all-time at Boston College in assists (18), 10th in points (50) and 11th in goals (16).
"We’re talking about a very intelligent player," said Costa Smyrniotis, managing director of Sigma FC in Mississauga, Ont., Bekker’s club side since 2006.
"He can hit the ball from outside with both feet. He’s excellent at set pieces which has caused a lot of issues for goalkeepers and defenders over the years," he added. "So he’s got all the nice tools."
It’s been a good month for Bekker, who grew up idolizing former Dutch star Dennis Bergkamp. The five-foot-10 165-pounder, who played for the Canadian Olympic team in 2012, has been summoned by the Canadian national team for January friendlies with Denmark and the U.S.
As for his MLS future, Bekker says his only preference is to go to a team that’s a good fit.
"First and foremost for me, just a team that plays a good brand of soccer that fits with the type of player I am," he said. "Somewhere where I can be put into a position where I’m going to do well."
While he has played a deeper midfield role with the Canadian Olympic team, his preference is a more attacking role.
"Playing in the middle of the park and getting on the ball and controlling the game is what I like to do," he said.
Bekker’s talents drew other suitors. He has already had a tryout at English Championship side Crystal Palace.
Other Canadians invited to the MLS combine include Emery Welshman, a club teammate of Bekker’s at Sigma FC, and Kofi Opare.
Welshman, a forward from Mississauga, scored 10 goals and had four assists for Oregon State in 2012 when he was a First Team All-Pac-12 selection.
After the combine, he is due to head to Europe for a trial with Hungary’s Ferencvaros.
Opare, a defender from Niagara Falls, Ont., helped anchor a Michigan defence that allowed just 1.15 goals per match in 2012. He also had a career-high three goals in 17 matches as a senior.