Alston & Barnes Back in Town

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Photo credit: Kari Heistad/capturedimages.biz

The New England Revolution didn’t wait long to attend to their post-Christmas shopping list.

The club re-signed veteran defenders Kevin Alston and Darrius Barnes, and brought back third-string keeper Luis Soffner on Thursday.

“We’re pleased that we have been able to bring Kevin, Darrius, and Luis back to the Revolution,” Revolution general manager Michael Burns said in a team release on Thursday. “Each player could have chosen a different path but wanted to return, which was important to us.”

Alston, who was named 2013 MLS Comeback Player of the Year last month, played in 121 career games for the club after it selected him in the first round of the 2009 SuperDraft. A mainstay in rear during his first four seasons, Alston’s career took an unexpected detour in April after he was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), a rare, but treatable disease.

He took a leave of absence from the team to undergo treatment, but returned to training in late-June. He made his first appearance after the diagnosis on Jul. 27 at D.C. United, where many friends and family members watched the Washington, D.C. native officially make it back from the disease. He was out of contract before the club re-signed him on Thursday, presumably at a lower figure than the $194,000 he earned in 2013.

Barnes was taken in the same draft as Alston, but had to wait until the third round to hear his name called. But that didn’t stop him from making an immediate impact.

Like Alston, Barnes was a First Kick starter in 2009, and regularly started at center back during his first two seasons. He later shifted to the left, where he’s since seen much of his playing time over the last three years. All told, the former Duke defender played in a total of 98 appearance during his five years in Foxborough before his contract – which netted him approximately $72,700 in 2013 – expired this month.

“Both Kevin and Darrius have been valuable members of this Club for the past five seasons and are reliable, proven veterans,” Burns said. “They are both professional in the way they conduct themselves both on and off the field.”

Soffner, who was selected in the second round of the 2013 SuperDraft, served as the third-string keeper during the bulk of his rookie season and did not see action with the first team. He was one of three players waived by the club last month, and was earned the rookie minimum of $35,125 last season.

“We believe he has the potential to become a solid goalkeeper in MLS and look forward to his continued development,” Burns said.

With the additions of Alston, Barnes and Soffner, the Revolution are currently carrying 20 players on its roster. All three signings provide depth in the defending third, where the club was particularly deep last year for the first time in recent memory.

However, it has not yet made any signings to address the concerns at defensive midfielder or striker. The club’s possession rate dipped into the 30 percent range toward the end of the season, while the departure of Juan Agudelo has left a gaping hope up top.

The club will open preseason camp on Jan. 25.

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About Brian O'Connell

Brian O'Connell serves as editor and staff writer at New England Soccer Today. He's also the Revolution beat writer for ESPNBoston.com, and is Officer at Large for the North American Soccer Reporters. He regularly contributes to The Associated Press, and has been featured on MLSSoccer.com & RevsNet.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BrianOConnell21 or contact him via e-mail at BOConnell21@aol.com