Edmonton striker Jordan Ongaro looks forward to camp with the Montreal Impact | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Edmonton striker Jordan Ongaro looks forward to camp with the Montreal Impact

January 22, 2014 - 2:06 PM

It has been a week to remember for 22-year-old Edmonton forward Jordan Ongaro.

After being taken in the MLS SuperDraft in the fourth round (67th overall), Ongaro is preparing for the jump from the college ranks to the Montreal Impact training camp.

While the Impact thought enough of Ongaro to draft him, they apparently aren't quite ready to talk about the six-foot 175-pounder from San Diego State. A club spokesman said Wednesday "our staff would prefer seeing him in action at (training) camp first."

Others believe Ongaro is a skilled target-man who has the goods to succeed in the right circumstances.

"This is a prototype (No.) 9 of old," said San Diego State head coach Lev Kirshner, "where he pins himself into centre-backs, he has a great understanding of what his trade is as a No. 9.

"The timing of his runs and getting behind the (defensive) line, especially and specifically in the final third, is phenomenal."

Jordan led San Diego State in goals (10) and points (21) this season, while winning all-Pac-12 first-team honours. He was second in the conference in points and goals per match (0.53) and third in points per match (1.11).

He was the first player to score at least 10 goals in a season during Kirshner's 14-year tenure with the Aztecs.

"He's a special kid who had a very special season for our program," said Kirshner.

While not a large specimen, Ongaro plays bigger because of the strength in his core and legs, according to Kirshner.

A nervous Ongaro said he was just hoping to be picked Tuesday when the MLS draft resumed with the third and fourth rounds.

"Being able to get this chance is amazing," he said.

Ongaro, who has been involved with both the Canadian under-17 and under-20 programs, has had a great soccer sounding board growing up in his uncle Ross Ongaro.

A former player and coach for the Edmonton Drillers, Ross Ongaro played for the Canadian under-20 and Olympic team outdoors. A former Canadian national futsal team coach, he recently helped China to a beach soccer silver medal at the Asian Beach Games.

"Jordan is the type of player who can play at the next level," said Ross.

"He times things very well," he added. "And his (ball) lay-offs are at another level, they're professional one-touch lay-offs.

Ross has seen a 15-year-old Jordan excel among 18-year-olds in England and a 17-year-old Jordan more than hold his own with under-20 talent at Parma in Italy.

"Jordan is a target-man forward who finishes chances," he said. "He doesn't score empty-net goals, tap-in goals off rebounds."

Jordan's arsenal is well-stocked with goals coming from all distances and assorted body parts, according to Ross.

"I'm confident with what he can do. He's got a lot of learning to do but at least he has that opportunity now," said Ross.

MLS roster rules makes Canadian players more attractive to Canadian clubs, whose domestic roster slots can be filled by either Americans or Canadians.

Plus the three clubs north of the border must have a minimum of three Canadian domestic players on their rosters.

American clubs treat Canadians as internationals. The definition of domestic player south of the border involves U.S. citizens, permanent residents (green card holder) or other special status (such as refugee or asylum status).

The Impact called Kirshner in advance of their selection to pick his brain.

"Jordan gave me a bunch of ammunition to speak well about him, not only as a player but training habits, intangibles, personality and things like that," the Aztecs coach said.

"If they're looking for a target-type kid that can score goals inside he box and if their team is able to provide the service and possession, there's no doubt that Jordan can make it," he added.

Ongaro is the first Aztec to be drafted by the MLS since both Daniel Steres and Justin Davies were selected in 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft (which is now part of the SuperDraft).

San Diego State has had a player drafted in seven of the last nine years.

With the Impact set to hold their first training session Monday, Ongaro admits to both nerves and excitement. He says just being alongside star striker Marco Di Vaio will be "truly an honour."

But he is realistic.

"I just know I've got to earn my spot on the field and in the locker-room now."

The Impact took Creighton defender Eric Miller in the first round, Caly Poly midfielder George Malki in the second and University of Maryland, Baltimore County, forward Pete Caringi in the third.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2014
The Canadian Press

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