WASHINGTON - APRIL 3: Kevin Alston #30 of the New England Revolution passes the ball against Christian Castillo #12 of D.C. United at RFK Stadium on April 3, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Getty Images)
Believe it or not, there was a time when Kevin Alston was in the national team pool. Let that sink in for a moment. It wasn't even that long ago when he was called into Camp Cupcake in 2009 under Bob Bradley. Granted, he pulled out of the camp with a hamstring injury, but his game was reputable enough that he earned a shot.
There is no question that Alston is a talented player. He was on the U17 national team. He stood out at Indiana University, where he was named to the All-Big Ten team when he was a sophomore and junior. His repute coming out of college was so good that he was given a Generation Adidas contract, and he was expected to not only help bolster the Revolutions' back-line, but perhaps be on a quick shot to Europe.
The problem is he graduated GA after his rookie year in 2009 and has not developed as many hoped he would. Sure he can play defense, but he is an absolute liability going forward. He relies too heavily on his speed when making poor forward runs, often times leaving him way out of position in the defensive third. Yet his name seems to be permanently written for the starting eleven.
Perhaps it is because I see him week in and week out that I notice all of his imperfections; but, even I can't deny that there is definitely talent there. It leads me to wonder if a change of scenery, could, potentially, be good for both Alston and the Revs. Let's be honest, if it looked as though Alston were still on a sure-shot path to Europe, I'd want New England to keep him to reap whatever benefit a team now gets from transfer fees. But I just don't see it. I do, however, see a possibility of reaping benefits from moving Alston within MLS.
Would Alston be that much of a loss with the addition of Florian Lechner? And truthfully, at right back, is Darrius Barnes that much worse than Alston? Even further despite Alston's flaws, he is still looked upon relatively highly in many MLS circles. He was an All-Star in 2010 - selected by Bruce Arena over the (in my opinion) much more talented Sean Franklin. Alston even started that game against Manchester United. Could New England potentially fill a void by shipping off Alston, or would that possibly create another one?
Would a team like the Vancouver Whitecaps be willing to move Young-Pyo Lee to the left (a position he has played) in order to add Alston. Could New England trade Alston for someone like Omar Salgado or one of the many other attacking threats Vancouver has? Or could Alston only net allocation money? Are there even teams still interested in him?
On the other hand, New England could end up trading Alston only to watch him fulfill his potential. This would leave the Revolution looking at another Seth Sinovic-like situation.
Either way, Kevin Alston was a player who I had lots of hope for. I'm now starting to wonder if that hope was mislaid. Is it time to see what value he holds, or do we have hope that after a few years of poor development, Jay Heaps can now come in and turn Alston's career around?
I don't really know, but Alston's situation needs to be looked at carefully by Mike Burns and the Revs FO. Because maybe Alston's best value to the team, is being sent somewhere else.
What are your thoughts? Could Alston bring in better talent to New England? Is this just an overreaction to seeing him week in and week out? What do you think his value is around MLS?