On Thursday, MLS club executives, coaches and staffers will meet at the Philadelphia Convention Center to select the next class of prospects.
Before the festivities get under way, Goal.com writer Justin Churchill, along with NEST writers Ryan Lanigan and Brian O’Connell, got together to discuss on how it might shake out for the New England Revolution.
1. What do you make of the Revs trading up to #4 at the expense of losing Michael Parkhurst’s rights?
Ryan Lanigan: It’s no secret that the addition to Michael Parkhurst to any MLS defense would be a huge get, but I think the Revs made the right choice with this one. They currently have the defending MLS Defender of the Year in Jose Goncalves and second-year player Andrew Farrell has been widely regarded as an eventual center back. New England also saves a good chunk of change and even got some in allocation in return. This isn’t the deepest MLS draft so moving up to the top 5 is a wise choice.
Justin Churchill: When it comes to the MLS draft, there are only so many picks that actually amount to anything. New England made a mistake in trading the rights of Parkhurst. A fringe national team player would serve the organization better, especially in a weak draft year.
Brian O’Connell: It’s the right move when you consider how the Revs have to operate. If they were a big-budget club, they could go right ahead and throw six-figures at an already strong area like center back. But they’re not. They have needs elsewhere, and whatever they would’ve paid Parky would be better used at areas of weakness, like striker, holding midfielder and outside midfielder.
2. Who do you think the Revs will take at #4 and why?
Ryan: When the Revs traded up last year, they knew exactly who they wanted and it was easy with the top pick. There’s no doubt they have their eye on someone but this year won’t be guaranteed to get them. The MLS SuperDraft isn’t exactly the best place to get a goal scorer but there certainly have been ones that have come out of it. I think the Revs are going to take a chance on one this year and go for Maryland forward Patrick Mullins. The most appealing about Mullins is obviously his goal scoring ability, scoring 19 goals in his senior season and 47 over his career as a Terp, but something you always like to see is a winner. Mullins helps Maryland to ACC championships and into the NCAA round of 16.
Justin: The Revs would do well to take the best available striker. It is going to be hard to replace Juan Agudelo and New England needs to address this soon. Patrick Mullins of Maryland looks to be versatile and could work well up front. Cyle Larin from UConn has some very good speed, but may need time to develop. The striker is only 18 years old.
Brian: I’d be dumbfounded if they drafted someone other than Patrick Mullins, if he’s still available. A consensus top-5 pick, he’s probably the prospect in the best position to help the club this year. Some are saying that GK Andre Blake, whom many pundits say is MLS-ready right now, could also be a good pick at #4, if available. That may be true, but where, oh where, are the goals going to come from, given the canyon-sized crater up top? Another international signing who’s forgotten his scoring boots back at home?
3. Which approach should the Revs adopt on with the 12th and 19th spots: draft on need or take the best available player?
Ryan: At 12, I think you’ll see the Revs address some sort of depth, whether they look for another midfielder or if they don’t take a forward at 4, then a forward then. When it comes to 19, don’t be surprised if the Revs move the pick. That being said, don’t be surprised if the Revs move any picks.
Justin: New England needs a left back, there really is no way around it. Ben Sweat from South Florida could fall for the Revs. While Sweat may not be the long term answer, his selection makes the most sense later on in the First Round.
Brian: This is a toss-up. After the first 5-6 picks, we’re really looking at a collection of bench players and camp fodder, with possible diamond in the rough or two. At 12, Revs should probably look at holding midfielder, possibly J.J. Koval, if he’s still available. At 19, it’s unlikely that we’ll see anyone who can significantly help the club this year, so taking a guy like Mamadou Diouf, or even Kyle Venter, could give the club some additional depth up top and in the rear.
4. If you’re Mike Burns, are you looking to make another trade? Why or why not?
Ryan: Absolutely. Burns told RevolutionSoccer.net’s Jeff Lemieux that there has already been interest in the fourth overall pick from other clubs and the Revs should certainly be listening. I believe the Revs are best suited to fill their attacking options with an international player or an established MLS goal scorer. There’s no guarantee they could get the later with the 4th pick, but they might be able to move it for other pieces or a future draft.
Justin: If I am Mike Burns, I look to trade two of my first round picks for an established player (LB, FWD, DM). Issues arise from the avalaiblity of those established players in the MLS, what teams will be able to part with a player of the ability that Burns is looking for? There isn’t much to choose from. The youth has served New England well this past season, but draft picks are too much of liability. There is no certain time table for Diego Fagundez staying with the team, the time for a cup run will be sooner than most think.
Brian: Why the heck not? The Revolution are a classic Moneyball team, and some of the best values can be found in the draft. They were wise to trade up on Monday, and in all likelihood, have a player in mind for that spot. But anything can happen: there is no certainty in the draft unless you own the first pick. I could very well see them move up to 1 for security, or even package the 12 and 19 picks for allocation money.
5. Assuming Andre Blake gets taken within the top 5, which New England-based prospect gets called to the podium next?
Ryan: It’s a little risky to say but I think UConn freshman Cyle Larin is going to go off the board next. He was named the top freshman by TopDrawerSoccer.com and has a real strong knack at scoring goals. He’s going to make whichever team he plays for next very happy.
Justin: UConn has a lot of products in this draft class, so look for Cyle Larin to go in the early rounds as well.
Brian: All the SuperDraft buzz seems to be coming from the direction of UConn’s Cyle Larin thanks to his impressive late-season form. Even so, I’m going to have to go with Damion Lowe from Hartford, a Generation adidas product who could very well get selected with a top-10 pick.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: According to reports, Larin has subsequently elected to stay at UConn after declining to sign a Generation adidas deal.)