New England Soccer Today

Grading the 2013 Draft

With the 2013 MLS SuperDraft now in the books, the writers at New England Soccer Today handed out their grades for the New England Revolution’s 2013 draft performance. The Revs selected Louisville defender Andrew Farrell with the first overall pick, UNC-Charlotte midfielder Donnie Smith with the 21st overall pick, Xavier forward Luke Spencer with the 23rd overall pick, and Indiana goalkeeper Luis Soffner with the 36th overall pick.

 

Brian O’Connell

Grade: A-

It was encouraging the Revs put on the daddy pants for this year’s draft. They saw Andrew Farrell (who first came on to their radar a year ago) and made a bold move to ensure they’d get him. It was an extension of the Jay Heaps credo – “we’re going to attack.” And they did that. They not only got the best available player, but they addressed their most obvious weakness: defense. There’s no reason to think that the addition of Farrell won’t make them better.

Donnie Smith was a curious pick considering their growing collection of midfielders. It looks like he could be converted to left back, which doesn’t sound like an especially strong endorsement of last year’s second round pick, Tyler Polak. The selection of Luke Spencer is, believe it or not, my favorite pick. Yes, he might’ve stuck around the Supplemental Draft. But he brings a great mix of size and finishing ability that should make him an intriguing option when Jerry Bengtson’s busy with World Cup Qualifying. Taking Luis Soffner was a bit of a head scratcher. I get the explanation – “goalkeeping depth.” But taking a third-string keeper at SuperDraft? It just might end up biting them in the rear.

 

Carl Setterlund

Grade: A-

Whether it was purely a stroke of inspiration from Mike Burns, or if someone, perhaps Jay Heaps, was prodding him to make a move for Andrew Farrell, it certainly was the kind of big thinking and shrewd investment that will help the Revs in their turnaround. Farrell may have been the consensus top player in this draft class, but there is something to be said for not screwing up a huge decision like this, so bravo to front office brass for not pulling Simon Borg’s finger and taking Carlos Alvarez. New England has several needs, but improving the center of the defense should provide a huge boost, especially if it helps the Revs keep from squandering points late in games. Farrell and A.J. Soares, while undersized as a unit, should be a top five center back pairing, and I like the idea of easing the pressure off of Stephen McCarthy and letting him be a versatile super-sub.

While I applaud the diversity amongst the second-round picks, I look at those as a couple of fliers and New England will be happy if one or two of them stick as cheap depth. Of the three, I’d guess that Donnie Smith will be the likeliest to make any sort of impact, but part of that is just that I think the opportunity might be there as a wide midfielder. Goalie Luis Soffner is intriguing just based on his big game experience, but he’ll ultimately be third on the depth chart for a while.

Overall, this draft basically comes down to the Farrell pick and we probably won’t know exactly what they gave up in allocation money, but it was obviously worth it to New England to upgrade over another option like Walker Zimmerman. It would be an A+ for me based on the idea of adding certain impact and a player who has a great chance of becoming an MLS All-Star. My only gripe is that I felt the value early in the second round was probably better on the defensive side.

 

Sean Donahue

Grade: B+

It would be hard to fault the Revolution for taking a defender in Louisville’s Andrew Farrell who could be a key part of this team for many years to come with the first pick. With New England already signing Portuguese center back José Gonçalves, however, the move to trade up to take a center back does ask some questions: Is Jay Heaps not sold on A.J. Soares after a bit of a disappointing second season following his stellar rookie year? Is the Stephen McCarthy experiment at center back – one that seemed to prove pretty successful and ended with him winning the team’s Defender of the year award – over? Or, perhaps more likely, is Heaps planning to use Gonçalves or Farrell at fullback, which would seem a bit of a waste of the physical attributes of the former and of the skillset of the latter? With the personnel the Revolution now have, it’s conceivable Heaps is building his team for another experiment with a 3-5-2, which would go a long way to explaining the decisions made in this draft.

Second round pick Donnie Smith, out of UNC-Charlotte, has drawn some criticism due to the Revolution’s glut of midfielders, but the selection makes perfect sense. The Revolution have plenty of coverage in the center of midfield, but outside of Lee Nguyen, there are a lot of question marks on the wings. Kelyn Rowe showed plenty of promise in his rookie year, but it’s still unclear whether he’s better served in the center or on the right and there were enough lapses in his play last year to question whether he’s really ready to be a full time right midfielder on a playoff team. Competition and depth on the wings is needed, plus quality left midfielders are hard to find in MLS. If a 3-5-2 is the idea, this move makes even more sense.

Forward Luke Spencer was taken earlier than many expected, but he could provide some needed depth up top and certainly has the physical tools to succeed in MLS. Luis Soffner has the promise to be the Revolution’s goalkeeper of the future.

 

Ryan Lanigan

Grade: A

I’m grading the Revolution’s draft based on their pick, not the moves that led up to that pick. I first questioned the move up to the top spot because from the outside looking in, it didn’t appear there was a star player waiting to be picked. With that said, since the Revs did move up to the top spot, they made the best choice possible in Andrew Farrell. Farrell was deemed the most MLS-ready player coming out of the draft. New England clearly felt Farrell was the best fit and since it didn’t cost the Revs too much to move up, it was a smart get for them.

Their three second round picks have little affect on this grade. By the end of the year, we’ll know more about these players. Look at last year’s pick – everyone, including myself, was praising the Revs for drafting Polak, but then the outside back from Creighton didn’t see much first team action at all. Of all three of them, I’m most intrigued by Xavier striker Luke Spencer. Spencer stands at 6’2 and weighs in just under 200lbs, something that the Revs could use in a substitute striker. He seems to have a strong control of the ball, especially with his back to the goal, which could help the Revs possession game. Donnie Smith – the 21st pick – could factor in some late game subs in a role similar to Fernando Cardenas while the Revs last pick, goalie Luis Soffner, will fill the ‘void’ left by Tim Murray. That’s not to say Soffner won’t compete, but I think it’d be surprising to see him above Shuttleworth and Reis in the near future.

4 Comments

  1. Chris B

    January 21, 2013 at 11:58 am

    We got depth (and maybe even a starter with Farrell) at every area of the field. So I don’t see how the grade can be less than A-. I don’t get why some are surprised the Revs’ picked Soffner. A) We have a GK spot open and B) Soffner is supposedly one of, if not the best, GK in this draft class. We still have the Supplemental Draft to get additional strikers and defenders.

  2. Mat

    January 21, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Sean, I love the 3-5-2 idea you mentioned. I’ve been hoping for this and I hope that Heaps is thinking along those lines as well. I admit I know very little about college soccer players (except for whatever you guys and the bent musket write up on them), but I like the sound of all of these picks.

    Like Ryan, I like this forward we drafted. Not too sure if we will see much of him or the other picks we have.

    I don’t mind the goalkeeper pick (seriously, if we had picked anyone else would they even be someone we would keep for the future? chances are slim and this GK sounds like he was the best GK available for the draft).

  3. Brian

    January 21, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    Thank you as always for the great analysis and article! I am wondering, and perhaps it is obvious or simply premature to ask, how do you interpret the offseason signings and draft relative to the potential style of play? Can anything be gleamed at this point? I am really concerned it is leaning more towards the end of the 2012 rather than the beginning but perhaps I am too worried based upon what I know form watching Dorman and League one in the case of Cisse which might not be fair. Perhaps this makes me a bad fan I am not sure how long I can continue to do so if it means more of the style of soccer like the last month or so of the season.

  4. Robert

    January 22, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Great draft. We selected the consensus best player in the draft; Smith Spencer, and Soffner also had good scouting reports. And let’s not forget about Scott Caldwell who may have been a top 10 or 15 draft pick if available. I mentioned it an another article , but two interesting names for the Supplemental Draft are Eric Schoenle (reportedly could’ve signed a Generation Adidas deal last year), and Kevin Durr from Air Force.

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