New England Soccer Today

A Look Back at the Revs’ 1st Draft

Photo credit: Boston College Athletics

Photo credit: Boston College Athletics

What a difference two decades can make.

On Thursday, the Revolution will select their next crop of college prospects at the 2016 MLS SuperDraft in Baltimore, Md. The occasion will mark the 21st time the club – one of the league’s original 10 – will dip into the NCAA talent pool to bolster their roster.

Before Commissioner Don Garber announces the first pick at this year’s draft, we look back at the first time the Revolution turned its attention to the college game – the 1996 MLS College Draft.

Going into the proceedings, the Revolution had already boasted decent collection of players through allocations and what was deemed the “inaugural draft.” With a foundation already in place, the club was issued the sixth overall pick in the league’s first college draft, which took place on Mar. 4, 1996 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

With plenty of business to attend to before the very first First Kick, head coach Frank Stapleton and assistant Ron McEachen decided to go the local route by selecting Boston College forward Paul Keegan with the club’s first college pick.

Keegan was quite the collegiate talent. The Irish international amassed 31 goals and 21 assists in 69 matches for the Eagles between 1992 and 1995. In an Oct. 2015 article from Boston College’s official site, Keegan recalled the influence that longtime Eagles men’s soccer coach Ed Kelly had on his foray into pro soccer.

“I’m a striker, and strikers are greedier than other players,” Keegan said. “But Ed wanted the beautiful game. That’s how he taught me. I had to look around and not be selfish. He instilled that in me, and that’s what prepared me for MLS.”

Revolution 96 Home Paul Keegan, Crew Brian Blliss

To his credit, Keegan put together a respectable career in New England. He scored four goals and added three assists during his rookie season, and stayed with the local XI through the 2000 season.

After they tabbed Keegan in the first round, Stapleton and McEachen stayed in the Big East Conference when they picked Clemson attacking midfielder Imad Baba in the second round. Baba was a vaunted talent who was part of the U.S. Olympic pool at the time, and after scoring 21 goals and collecting 32 assists in three seasons with the Tigers, he decided to forgo his senior year to turn pro.


The selection of Baba turned out to be fruitful for the Revolution as well. After a debut season in which he scored two goals and added two assists in 11 matches, the former Tiger remained in Foxboro for an additional four seasons, his best coming in 2000 when he scored nine goals and collected eight assists.

In the third and final round of the college draft – which preceded the supplemental draft that was curiously held later in the day – the Revolution turned its attention back to the region with the selection of Rhode Island midfielder Paulo Dos Santos. The Rams’ best playmaker between 1993 and 1995, Dos Santos scored 22 goals and collected 17 assists while on campus.


Unlike Keegan and Baba, Dos Santos’ time with the Revolution wasn’t quite as productive. He failed to step on the field for the Revolution during his rookie season, and was subsequently waived after it concluded. After spells with the Connecticut Wolves and Rhode Island Stingrays, he briefly resurfaced with the Revolution in 1999, a year in which he appeared in 16 games before he was subsequently loaned to a collection of lower division sides.

There’s no doubt that 1996 was a heady time for the Revolution, and by extension, the league itself. Few knew what to expect during the league’s inaugural year, and even fewer had any steadfast plan going in those first 32 games. Credit the likes of Stapleton, McEachen and even then-Revolution Chief Operating Officer Brian O’Donovan for performing their due diligence during a wild first few pages of chapter 1 of MLS history.

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