New England Soccer Today

Realistically speaking

While it might be tempting to pencil A.J. Soares and Stephen McCarthy into the New England Revolution’s starting XI based upon their standout collegiate careers and impressive MLS Combine performances, Head Coach Steve Nicol and Vice President of Player Personnel Mike Burns aren’t quite ready to anoint them starters just yet.

Stephen McCarthy will have to earn it if he's going to start in 2011. (Photo courtesy

Though Nicol and Burns expressed moderate satisfaction with their selections during Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft, the coach and VP of Player Personnel were unequivocal in the sense that considerable work needs to be done before the start of the regular season. With three international roster spots vacant, the pair are hopeful the recent signing of Didier Domi will not be the team’s last international acquisition this offseason.

“We were certainly looking for a central defender, we’re looking for a central midfielder, and we’re looking for a forward as well,” said Burns. “We think in this draft we addressed a lot of our needs, obviously, from a domestic player standpoint, but this is just another step in the process. We’re still looking to acquire a couple international players as well.”

Should the club find themselves unsuccessful in filling those positions with seasoned internationals, the Revolution can take some measure of solace in the shrewd selections made on Thursday.

On paper, Soares looks a perfect acquisition to fill the central defender role, while the 6’4” McCarthy has the potential to develop a successful partnership with Shalrie Joseph in central midfield. Third round selections Steven Perry, Ryan Kinne, and Alan Koger will all have a shot to make the team as a striker.

Of course, there is no way of knowing how well any of the five will perform at the pro level until they actually step on the field.

“I think it’s normal when everyone leaves the draft [that] they always feel pretty good about who they’ve drafted,” said Burns. “Really, the true test will [be] once we get preseason and get everyone acclimated and get them into the locker room and we start training. On paper, we feel pretty decent about what transpired today for us.”

Though neither Burns nor Nicol were ready to hand out starting assignments a full two months prior to First Kick, the two were clearly impressed with what they saw in Soares and McCarthy and felt both prospects could’ve realistically been taken earlier in SuperDraft than they were.

In Soares, a University of California product, the team saw a defender who reads the game well and can help coordinate the defense from the center, not to mention score a few goals (five in 2010) when needed.

“He looks real mature,” said Nicol. “When you’re in the back, defensively, you need someone who is organizing and who is taking care of what’s going on behind the people in front of him. That’s something he’ll definitely be able to do.”

McCarthy, who was brought in to compete with the likes of Pat Phelan and Jason Griffiths for a spot in the center of the midfield, was a dynamic player the Revs scouted at ACC powerhouse University of North Carolina.

“He’s definitely an imposing, physical player, that’s hopefully going to have an additional presence in our midfield,” said Burns. “Our coaches had seen him a lot…and knowing he was a signed player with the league, it was all positives with us. He’s a big, physical strong player, but we feel he also is fairly technical as well. He could hopefully develop into an imposing central midfield player for us.”

Overall, the Revs’ coaching staff is bullish about their SuperDraft selections going into the 2011 season.  Should the club fill their remaining international roster vacancies, and Soares and McCarthy play to their billing, the Revs will undoubtedly head into the new season with a much brighter outlook after a disappointing 2010.

“I think with the group that we got [Thursday] certainly one of them maybe two, but you never know, maybe three [could eventually end up starting], so we’re more than happy,” said Nicol.

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