New England Soccer Today

Grading the Draft

Tyler Polak could fill the Revs need at left back. (Photo Credit: Andy Mead /

With the 2012 MLS SuperDraft now in the books, the writers at New England Soccer Today handed out their grades for the New England Revolution’s 2012 draft performance. The Revs selected UCLA midfielder Kelyn Rowe with the third overall pick and Creighton defender Tyler Polak with the 22nd overall pick.

Julian Cardillo

Grade: B

First of all, the signing of Tyler Polak was huge. Not only does it give the Revolution a left back, which they haven’t had in a few years, but it also gives them more salary cap freedom since he is Generation Adidas. I certainly didn’t expect to see Polak available at number 22, which makes him a steal for the Revolution. On the other side of things, the Revolution still don’t have a goal scorer. Yes, Kelyn Rowe is a great offensive talent but he isn’t the player that is going to bring this team 10-15 goal seasons.

Should Rajko Lekic and Nate Jaqua choose not to sign, the Revolution will be in deep trouble when it comes to offensive depth. Not selecting Chandler Hoffman, Sam Garza, or Casey Townsend may come back to haunt them. But nevertheless, Rowe deserved to be a top five pick going into the draft. He has played for UCLA, the largest producer of MLS players, trialed with FC Koin of the Bundesliga, and played in the U.S. youth national team systems. He may be the next Steve Ralston or Benny Feilhaber. All in all, two solid picks, though it would be nice to have a forward that can make the combined efforts of Rowe, Benny Feilhaber, and Shalrie Joseph count.

Sean Donahue

Grade: A

Quick: name a striker who scored ten goals in MLS last season that was a product of ANY SuperDraft. Struggling? That would be because – if we discount Brek Shea for being a midfielder – of the 14 forwards who scored 10+ goals in 2011, only one joined the league via the SuperDraft: Dominic Oduro. Oduro was a second round pick in 2008 and has already bounced around four different teams. He had never scored more than five goals before last season.

Why start with that reminder? Because many have expressed disappointment that the Revs didn’t address their obvious current deficiency at striker in the draft. The problem is the odds of finding a good MLS goal scorer in the drafts these days, even with a top three pick, is almost nonexistent. With such an early pick, the strategy has to be to take the best available player. The Revs did that with Rowe and in doing so added so much needed creativity to a midfield that is lacking in offensive weapons. With the 22nd pick they addressed an immediate need at left back with Polak who may just turn out to be a steal so late. At the very least they provided needed competition for Danleigh Borman if he signs. Add in that the two players are Generation Adidas, don’t count against the cap and both are 20 or younger and it’s hard to see how the Revs could’ve done much better.

Ryan Lanigan

Grade: B+

The Revolution was able to draft two, high-quality players in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft. With the third selection, the Revs took UCLA and Generation Adidas player Kelyn Rowe. Rowe, who is only 20, is a very solid midfielder who plays well with or without the ball. While he isn’t the biggest player on the field, he can cause damage as seen from his time at UCLA and at the national team level. The 5’8 midfielder will most likely get the majority of his minutes on the outside but should make an immediate impact.

In the second round, the Revs snagged another Generation Adidas player in Creighton’s Tyler Polak. Polak is going to fill one of the major holes in the Revs at left back. The former Bluejay is a great fit for Heaps, who has previously stated he wants his outside backs to attack more, something Polak is good at. The reason this grade isn’t an A is because they didn’t get a pure goal scorer. The good news is that the Revolution drafted on the idea of “best player available” and came away with two solid players who won’t count against the salary cap.

Brian O’Connell

Grade: B+

The Revs get a B+ for a multitude of reasons. The positives: that the picks themselves addressed two major needs, with Rowe adding creativity to a predictable attack and Polak giving the squad a legitimate left back. Plus, the Revs don’t have to pay either a dime, opening cap room to possibly re-sign Rajko Lekic and/or Monsef Zerka. Oh, and they didn’t fall into the trap of drafting a striker, a position that historically yields many more misses than hits in the SuperDraft. So on these fronts, the Revs were particularly shrewd.

The only negative: they passed on Enzo Martinez, a playmaker who many felt has the talent to be a First Kick starter, in favor of Rowe, who may need some polishing before he’s a starting caliber talent. The third pick should deliver an immediate contributor rather than a “wait and see” playmaker, even if the latter has tremendous upside. On the whole, the Revs did well, but time will tell whether the Rowe-over-Martinez move comes back to bite them.


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