New England Soccer Today

Talking the talk

It must have been music to the ears of all Revolution fans.

After they suffered through one of the worst seasons in the club’s 15-year history, Revolution Chief Operating Officer Brian Bilello revealed to a select group of reporters Saturday that the club will be pursuing “one or more” designated players next season.

“It’s no sudden story that the team hasn’t performed the way we wanted this year,” said Bilello. “In talking with ownership, their priority wasn’t just getting better. They want to get better quickly.’’

Revolution COO says there has been a fundamental shift in the team's philosophy towards signing a DP (Photo by CHRIS ADUAMA/

And what better way to improve the club than to go out and get Cristiano Ronaldo? Not so fast, says Bilello.

‘‘In all likelihood, those players will be moderate designated players,’’ Bilello said. ‘‘We’re going to look for moderate designated players that can help the team get better regardless of their marketing impact. That’s a bit of a shift from what we’ve said in the past.’’

Translation: don’t expect a player of the Thierry Henry or David Beckham ilk. The key word in Bilello’s statement is “moderate.” So expect a player like Mista rather than Rafa Marquez in Foxboro.

Of course, a household name isn’t necessary for a designated player to help the club. See Angel, Juan Pablo. But, what’s worrisome is that the Revolution’s scouting infrastructure – the contingent that will presumably search for said designated player – currently consists of only three known quantities: Vice President of Player Personnel Mike Burns, Head Coach Steve Nicol, and, presumably, Assistant Coach Steve Myles.

“The reason we haven’t had a designated player in the past is because we’ve been looking for that guy and there aren’t that many of them out there,” said Bilello.

Wait – not many of them out there? More people play football on this planet than any other sport. Some of them play really well. And there aren’t many good players out there that could be acquired for Designated Player money?

Perhaps what Bilello means is “there are not many of them out there that can be found with our limited scouting department.” Ah, that’s better.

It is difficult to find viable international options when only three people are actively searching, two who of whom are typically busy coaching the club. And the Revolution’s track record shows that.

Before they got lucky with Marko Perovic and Ilija Stolica (who was essentially scouted by fellow his countryman, Perovic), there was Joseph Niouky, Stephen Assengue, Edgaras Jankauskas, and Jose Manuel Abundis. Oh, and let’s not forget that the Revolution told Guillermo Barros Schelotto “no, thanks” weeks before he signed with Columbus in 2007.

Needless to say, a proper scouting department is paramount to the success of finding a suitable player, designated or otherwise. The trio of Burns, Nicol, and Myles currently in place won’t cut it.

Rather, it’ll take a collection of individuals, who’s sole focus is to scour the globe to find quality players, to find the game-changer (or two) that the club desires. Without such a department, the search for a potential designated player might as well be conducted on Youtube or Big Soccer.

“Our goal would be to find a designated player before the 2011 season kicks off,” said Bilello. “But it’s hard to guarantee it because we don’t have players lined up or signed or anything like that.’’

That’s likely due to the fact Nicol and Myles are currently busy coaching the squad, and Burns is likely busy reassessing this roster for next season. Can you say “help wanted”?

It’s welcome news for the fans that the front office has finally considered using a Designated Player Allocation or two. It is. But without the necessary full-time scouts in place to locate a player worthy of DPA dollars, this proclamation is about as empty as Gillette Stadium during a mid-week SuperLiga match.


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