The New England Revolution surprised a few pundits when they took Georgetown midfielder Steve Neumann with the fourth overall pick of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, but their strategy proved perhaps a masterstroke when the club still managed to grab Maryland forward Patrick Mullins – a player they were widely expected to take fourth – by trading up for the 11th pick of the draft. The Revolution then addressed a need at defensive midfield in the second round by selecting University of California product Alec Sundly.
“Coming into this draft, we were looking to strengthen a couple areas, with the attacking third being our primary focus,” General Manager Michael Burns said in a club release. “We feel pretty good about coming out of today with both Steve (Neumann) and Patrick (Mullins). We’re looking forward to getting them both in to camp next week, and then seeing how they adjust to MLS and our group.”
New England, who acquired the fourth overall pick from the Columbus Crew in exchange for the rights to Michael Parkhurst on Monday, opted to take Neumann, an attacking midfielder at that spot. Neumann, who many mock drafts had landing with his hometown Philadelphia Union at the sixth pick, was considered by many to be the most creative player in the draft. College coaches told MLSSoccer.com that the 22-year-old Neumann is a two-footed player capable of creating chances for himself and others. The 6-foot-0 Neumann finished his college career with 41 goals – including 14 game winners – and 34 assists in 86 appearances for Georgetown.
With Saer Sene likely out for much of the start of the season due to a broken leg suffered in October, Neumann could potentially step right into the starting line-up in his place. Neumann is also a capable set piece taker who could help the Revolution address that area of weakness as the club has finished near the bottom in each of the last two seasons in goals from set pieces.
“I know the Revs had a lot of young guys producing on the field this past year and that’s something that I’m aspiring to, to come in and make an impact right away and I think it’s going to be fun to play alongside (Diego) Fagundez and (Kelyn) Rowe and all those guys and I think the attack will definitely get better with me and Pat (Mullins) joining the front line,” Neumann said in a conference call. “I’m just excited to get going and work as hard as I possibly can to make the lineups and then start producing for the Revs.”
While many expected New England to take Patrick Mullins – the two-time Hermann Trophy winner – who was lauded as the most MLS-ready striker before the draft, at four, the Revolution still managed to get him with the 11th overall pick after they traded the 12th and 19th overall picks to Colorado for that selection. Named the top college soccer player in the country both his junior and senior year, Mullins tallied an impressive 24 goals and 10 assists in his senior season (including postseason play), while leading Maryland to the NCAA College Cup championship game. Mullins also tallied 17 goals and 10 assists in 24 games as a junior, taking the team to the national championship semifinals that year.
“Every team prepares their draft boards and when we looked at ours, I don’t think we envisioned both Steve and Patrick being available to us when we just held the number 12 pick. But when they ended up being available, we thought it was too good of an opportunity to pass up and drafted them,” Burns said.
The 21-year-old 6-foot-1 striker should compete right away for a starting spot with forwards Jerry Bengtson, Charlie Davies and Dimitry Imbongo after the club lost starting striker Juan Agudelo this offseason. Mullins finished his college career with 47 goals and 35 assists in 92 matches.
“I think, like Steve was saying, we’re bringing some attacking players and we’re both creative players,” said Mullins in a conference call. “And more for me, I think that I’m a player that when I’m in the box, I know how to get the ball in the goal so I think that’s probably the best attribute to my game. I think that will translate to the next level and I believe that it will.”
In the second round, with the 31st overall pick, the Revolution selected California defensive midfielder Alec Sundly. The 21-year-old team captain registered nine goals and two assists in 21 games for Cal this season. He finished his college career with 13 goals and 3 assists in 73 matches.
“In second round with Alec (Sundly), we feel like we had a little bit of a steal there,” Burns said. “He wasn’t at the MLS Combine, which probably hurt him a little bit, but we’ve seen him play and heard a lot of good things about him, so we’re looking forward to getting him into camp, too.”
Sundly will likely add depth behind Andy Dorman and Scott Caldwell as a defensive midfielder.
The third and fourth rounds of the SuperDraft will take place on Tuesday. The Revolution hold the 12th pick in the third round (50th overall pick), but traded away their fourth round pick for the rights to Charlie Davies last summer.