Prioritizing New England's Off Season Player Search

Jared Wickerham

Going into the off season, New England needs to figure out not only what positions need the most help, but which of the several player acquisition methods (SuperDraft, Re-Entry Draft, Supplemental Draft, international signing, etc.) would be best used for filling those roles.

With the option on Florian Lechner being declined and Andy Dorman being re-signed, the New England Revolution's offseason is upon us. Looking ahead, the front office needs to prioritize where this team needs the most help and what method they should look at for attaining said help.

1. Defense

Even before the front office declined the option of Florian Lechner, this position was by far the most clearly in need of an upgrade. Last year's preferred back four, which was seemingly Chris Tierney, Kevin Alston, Stephen McCarthy, and A.J. Soares, was woefully inexperienced. Depth-wise, it was also lacking. Darrius Barnes did well in spots and may even be able to challenge for a starting spot, but rookie Tyler Polak saw only 30 minutes for the season. New England needs an upgrade who has experience and leadership, preferably at center-back.

Where to look: This spot needs an instant starter, so while using a SuperDraft pick on someone like Indiana's Eriq Zavaleta - who will most likely be a Generation Adidas player - might be kinder on the salary, it is probably better to look towards an international. The other possibility could be to trade for a proven MLS-caliber center back. If only we had a marketable, sought-after former US international midfielder, who is seemingly unhappy and not getting minutes that we could trade...

2. Goalkeeper

Depending on whom you ask, Bobby Shuttleworth is either good enough to be an MLS starter now, decent enough to be an MLS backup, or should be waived immediately. Adding in the apparently impending re-signing of Matt Reis, the Revs have made the situation, and their opinion on Shuttleworth, that much murkier. Is Bobby still the heir apparent and they want to give Reis a sendoff? Will Reis be signed in a Pat Onstad-style player-coach role? Is Reis going to serve as a backup? Reis, starter or not, probably will only have one year left, and Shuttleworth's future still seems unclear.

Where to look: With the unknown status on Shuttleworth in the eyes of the FO and Reis most likely signing for at least another season, it might be worth taking a risk on UConn's Andre Blake here. Blake will undoubtedly be a Generation Adidas player if he decides to leave Connecticut, so if he had to sit behind Reis or Shuttleworth for a year or two it might be a good choice.

3. Forward

Jerry Bengtson, Saer Sene, and probably Dimitry Imbongo will all be back next year. That is a decent core of strikers. Add in Diego Fagundez, who will hopefully see more time in the midfield in 2013, and New England probably does not need to go all in at the forward position. However, with Bengtson most definitely missing games for World Cup qualifying, and the uncertainty of how Sene will come back after injury, a player or two needs to be brought in.

Where to look: If someone who is an absolute sure-shot stud is available in the SuperDraft with the fourth pick, you take him even if Blake is available. Nevertheless, there will most likely be someone left when the Supplemental and Re-Entry drafts come around, the Revs could come up good with one of their plethora of second round SuperDraft picks (if for nothing else than a warm body for the Reserve Squad), they could even bundle some second round picks for a decent player, and then there is always the international market for someone who could potentially do well in MLS.

4. Midfield

Lee Nguyen, Blair Gavin, Clyde Simms (most likely), Juan Toja (maybe) and even Benny Feilhaber (probably). Yeah, the Revs are pretty set here. Ironically, they just re-signed Andy Dorman (yay!), but as far as places that need improvement and roster spots to fill, they are pretty set here.

Where to look: Nowhere? Anywhere? Everywhere? If they can bring in someone of real quality, do it. If not, I'm perfectly happy with how the midfield looks going into the new season. No point spending unnecessarily to bring in someone who may end up struggling for minutes.

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