On Thursday, the club executives, coaches and staffers will meet at the Indiana Convention Center to select the next class of MLS prospects.
Before the festivities get under way, Goal.com writer Justin Churchill and Brian O’Connell convened on how it might shake out for the New England Revolution.
1. Which approach should the Revs adopt on Thursday: draft on need or take the best available player?
Justin: New England must draft on need throughout the entire draft. The process of rebuilding has been a long one and this year the organization will need instant results. Last year the first round draft pick of Kelyn Rowe did actually work out pretty well, but that has not always been the story for the Revs.
Brian: I’m usually a firm believer that you don’t say no to talent just because you’ve got a backlog of numbers at his position. But, when it comes to this year’s draft – it would make no sense to draft another midfielder. They need depth in the rear, first and foremost. And that’s where the focus should be on Thursday.
2. Who’s the best fit for the Revs at the 4th spot and why?
Justin: Defensive issue’s need to be addressed early this season. Chris Tierney has done a decent job at left back, but he is really a midfielder. A player like Jimmy Nealis (Georgetown) or Taylor Kemp (Maryland) could work out well. With such an early pick it may be worth the risk to pick up a good hold up striker like Ryan Finley (Notre Dame) and then wait it out for a left back.
Brian: Hands down, it has to be Eriq Zavaleta (Indiana). He has the size (6-1) and smarts to anchor a backline, plus the skill and ability to play up top. To me, he’s not only one of the most complete players available, but also one of the most versatile. Some have compared him to last year’s first pick, Andrew Wenger. But he reminds me a lot more of young Geoff Cameron – who, incidentally, was taken right after the Revolution selected Brown’s Matthew Britner in the third round of the 2008 draft.
3. Who do you think the Revs take at 4 (regardless of your answer for the above question)?
Justin: I think the Revs will take forward Eriq Zavaleta (Indiana) due to the teams tendency to take offensive players.This may be the best decision with the potential for the team to be thin attacking this season. I think a hold up player like Finley would be a better choice though.
Brian: For all that Zavaleta brings to the table, I’d actually be shocked if they took him. Aside from the fact that Toronto may take him at 3, I think the Revs look at natural defender. Although Zavaleta has obvious talent, I think the braintrust leans toward Walker Zimmerman (Furman) if Andrew Farrell (Louisville) gets taken with the first overall pick. Zimmerman may be young (20), but he’s got the size (6-3), not mention a reputation for scoring (11 goals total in his freshman and sophomore years) off set pieces, to succeed in MLS.
4. If you’re Mike Burns, do you even consider trading dealing the 4th pick?
Justin: Yes, but I highly doubt there would a decent offer given for just a first round pick. I think there would have to be a multiple player deal for anything even to happen.
Brian: Yes, although realistically, the trading partners might not be there. Not to knock this year’s crop of prospects, but the Revs don’t need to get any younger. I’m not saying trade all four picks away and call it a day. But I do think that whomever they take won’t be an immediate starter. So why not trade the pick for a veteran defender or allocation money to buy down potential transfer target’s salary? Or Hunter Freeman’s asking price, for that matter?
5. Which New England-based prospect gets called to the podium first?
Justin: MF Carlos Alvarez (UConn) is arguably the best prospect in this draft. He is likely headed to Chivas with the second pick, but Toronto should really consider picking this kid first. Lots of talent and a great attacking midfielder.
Brian: It looks very much like UConn’s Carlos Alvarez is getting the call from Chivas USA at # 2. But after him, I think BC’s Kyle Bekker finds himself taken as a top 10 pick, especially coming off a strong Combine.