New England Soccer Today

Five keys to SuperDraft

With the SuperDraft quickly approaching, the New England Revolution has plenty of holes they will be looking to fill. While it’s hard to imagine the Revs grabbing an instant starter with anything other than their first-round pick (6th overall), the team should be able to add needed depth in some key areas.

Looking across the roster, making a list of what the team doesn’t need may be easier than the list of what they do need. With that in mind, here are five key points Steve Nicol and the rest of the Revs staff at the SuperDraft should keep in mind on draft day.

Aim high with pick #6: While every team would love to have the luxury of grabbing the players with the most promise and helping them develop over the years, the Revs are not currently in a position to do that. Instead, they need to aim for someone who from day one can make the team better. The positions that most glaringly need upgrades include center back, center midfielder, and striker. Based on the combine, finding a center back or possibly striker seems the most feasible.

Up until the signing of Didier Domi, the Revs were lacking experience and leadership on the backline. But, the addition of the French veteran on Tuesday, should allow the Revs to flush out the defense with some options in the draft.

If the Revs can find a center back to compete with Emmanuel Osei and Ryan Cochrane to play next to Darrius Barnes or, better yet, one who can anchor a three-man backline the way Michael Parkhurst did, that may be the best bet with their first pick. California’s A.J. Soares has been compared to Parkhurst, but the Revs may be better off with UNC’s Jalil Anibaba, who impressed at the MLS Combine. Even if the pick doesn’t start right away, they will likely see plenty of playing time behind three center backs that all missed a significant portion of 2010 with injuries.

Striker Corey Hertzog could be a option for the Revs with the 6th pick. (Photo courtesy

If they look for a striker, they’ll need someone who can combine well with Ilija Stolica.  Penn’s Corey Hertzog and Indiana’s Will Bruin look like solid choices, while Ecuadorian Victor Estupinan had an impressive combine and could be a decent option. Finding a striker would allow the Revs to push Marko Perovic in a left midfield role or as an attacking midfielder in a 3-5-2.

Don’t stock up on forwards: While the Revs could use an upgrade at forward, they need to avoid drafting too many. If the Revs opt not to select a forward at number six, it seems unlikely there is enough depth in the draft to provide them with an upgrade to back-ups Zack Schilawski, Kheli Dube, or Kenny Mansally.  If they fail to get a striker early, the team would be better off looking elsewhere to acquire a proven striker and use the draft to find players in areas where depth is more of an issue.

Shore up the right side: Two areas where depth is a huge issue is right back and right midfield. The Revs have no natural right back behind Kevin Alston, who can’t be counted on to play a full season with his nagging hamstring injuries. Moving Osei and Chris Tierney away from their natural positions is not a good solution and the Revs need a right back who knows the position and can be counted on for a long stretch if necessary. A versatile player such as Brown’s Jon Okafor could potentially provide good coverage at right back and in the center of the midfield and may be available for the taking as a late-round flier.

With Roberto Linck and Zak Boggs heading into the preseason unsigned, the Revs have no right midfielder under contract behind Sainey Nyassi. With international call-ups and potential injuries, the Revs need another option for his spot. Perovic was adequate in the role, but is stronger in the left midfielder and withdrawn forward roles.  A veteran to help Nyassi in his development would be ideal, but a draft pick could at least be an improvement over the current situation.

Avoid taking a goalkeeper too early: One area the Revs do not have a desperate need is goalkeeper. Veteran Matt Reis should be healthy to start the season and Bobby Shuttleworth proved to be a solid enough back-up to earn a spot on the senior roster. A collegiate keeper would likely compete with Tim Murray for the role as third keeper on the roster and, as such, is not an area crucial enough to be considered until the Supplemental Draft on January 18th.

Keep an ear to ground: Draft day isn’t just a time to pick up young players. The SuperDraft provides a rare opportunity where all the coaches and key front office executives are together and can meet face-to-face with other teams. Thursday is an ideal time for teams to make trades within the league. The Revs should actively look for opportunities to bring solid veterans into the club in exchange for draft picks or surplus youngsters. Adding experience to the midfield via trade may prove more valuable than any can’t-miss prospect come Thursday.

New England Soccer Today is your home for coverage of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. Starting at 11:45AM on Thursday, we’ll be hosting a live blog from Baltimore covering the draft and welcoming comments and questions throughout. We’ll also have post draft coverage of the Revolution’s picks and where the local New England players end up. If that’s not enough, come back Friday for an hour-long Revolution Recap podcast covering the draft and featuring pre-recorded commentary from players and coaches at the draft.


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