Well, the list of eligible players for the upcoming MLS Re-Entry Draft has finally arrived, and there is undoubtedly a slew of legitimate talent just waiting to be drafted, take a pay cut, and find new life in 2014. If you ask me (and clearly you did by clicking on this article), there's plenty of players on this list that could be serious contributors for the New England Revolution this upcoming season. So, let's get right to it, shall we?
Below I've broken down the players that I think should be on the Revs' shopping list when they prepare for the draft, which starts this upcoming Thursday with the first stage (reminder: contracts cannot be negotiated down if taken in the first stage) and concludes next Wednesday with the second stage. I've divided my wish list into sections based on what I believe are the needs for New England heading into this off-season (which is basically everywhere except for across the back line).
The eligible players' most recent salaries (per the MLS Players Union website) are listed to the right of their name and then in the parentheses after that number is a new number that I would propose is a reasonable salary to negotiate down to that makes sense for the Revs. For added fun, I included my top 5 players by putting their rank (again, in my fantasy wish list scenario) in parentheses before the players' names.
(2)Steve Zakuani $233,000 ($150,000) - Let's face it, the Revs need a winger. As things stand right now, there is no one suitable to occupy the wing opposite Diego Fagundez (at least until Saer Sene returns from injury) other than arguably Chris Tierney, I guess. Zakuani hasn't really been the same since his horrific injury (though I hear his rap game has only gotten better), but for the right price, he could really be a gamble worth taking. Given his continuous injury issues, I'd be concerned with him on Gillette's infamous turf, but if he were able to stay healthy, he could be a huge part of New England's 2014 campaign.
Bobby Convey $215,000 ($90,000) - Convey is getting up there, but at only 30 years old he's probably still got another couple seasons in the tank. He brought a degree of new life to Toronto FC in 2013 when he arrived there from Sporting Kansas City mid-season. I'm not a huge fan on Conveys, but I think he could be a serviceable back-up option. Plus he's an MLS veteran--he knows this league well.
(5)Kenny Cooper $342,500 ($200,000) - Striker is the biggest need for the Revs this off-season, with Juan Agudelo bound for Europe (one way or another), and Cooper is arguably the biggest name on this list. Cooper demands a high salary that would need to seriously come down if it were to make sense for the Revs to bring him on. That said, Cooper is a known quantity that had an incredible year with the New York Red Bulls just two seasons ago. Sure, his return to FC Dallas didn't quite work out, but in New England he could be the focal point of the attack. A bit of a risk, but if the Revs gave him the keys, I think he'd take this opportunity to ensure that he doesn't simply fade out of the MLS picture.
Justin Braun $114,700 ($60,000) - I've been a fan of Braun's ever since he was lighting it up at Chivas USA in 2011. He was a force then and I think that he could still be a force again if given the chance. Bringing him to New England wouldn't cost much. And after spending two seasons at the bottom of three different teams' depth charts, I'm sure Braun would be willing to take a significant paycut (that is unless he's fixing to try his hand at another league). It might be Blake Brettschneider 2.0, or it might just be a great fit.
(1)Fabian Espindola $150,000 ($100,000) - He was streaky last season in New York, sure, but Fabian Espindola is still a quality MLS striker. In fact, I'd like to see Espindola in New England so much that if I were in the drivers seat, I'd take him in the first round. He could play up top or out wide, which would suit the Revs' system well and give Jay Heaps a versatile option in the attack. I'd love to see New England pull the trigger on him, especially if they can't get Charlie Davies in on a permanent deal. even still, Espindola is only 28 and I think would definitely be worth the money.
(3)Yordany Alvarez $46,500 ($38,000) - Alvarez spent the last two seasons behind Kyle Beckerman on the Real Salt Lake depth chart. Even still, he made 33 appearances over those two years and was generally a reliable back-up option for the MLS Cup runners-up. Alvarez is a gritty player who isn't afraid to get his hands dirty--exactly the type of defensive midfielder that the Revs needed late in the season this past year. Alvarez could push Scott Caldwell for a spot in the starting XI and if Heaps were willing to tinker with his formation, I could see a partnership of the two in central midfield working out pretty effectively. He's another player that I would take in the first round as he doesn't command very much financially.
Danny O'Rourke $175,000 ($80,000) - O'Rourke was mainly a center-back for the Columbus Crew in 2013, but he is a defensive midfielder by trade. With Clyde Simms being shown the door, the Revs might be in the market for an older, more experienced MLS veteran who knows his way around the league. I'm not a huge fan of O'Rourke's, but I could see the Revs taking a shot at him and trying to work his salary down as low as possible.
Chris Rolfe $248,333.33 ($150,000) - His impressive 2012 campaign was followed up by a textbook stinker of a season in 2013. Rolfe's talent, however, is undeniable and we all know what he is capable of when he's on. I'd support snagging Rolfe in the Re-Entry Draft as it would allow the Revs yet another versatile attacker to plug and play as needed. Rolfe has been efficient as a striker, a withdrawn striker, an attacking midfielder, and even a winger. This would give Heaps lots of options with which to utilize Rolfe if they brought him in. At 30 years old, he'd most likely play a back-up roll with New England, but he could very well be the first player off the bench in 2014, too.
(4)Brad Knighton $68,600 ($48,000) - Another player that I would consider selecting in Thursday's first stage, Knighton could return to Foxboro and have a serious chance at the starting goalkeeper position. Although he spent 2007-2009 as Matt Reis' backup, he now would have the chance to compete with Bobby Shuttleworth to start between the sticks with Reis seemingly out of the picture. He put together a couple good seasons with the Vancouver Whitecaps, but he had stiff competition week-in and week-out from Joe Cannon and David Ousted this past season which eventually left him watching from the sidelines by year-end. I think Knighton would be a solid pick-up, and I'll bet the Revs have been thinking about him since they saw that Vancouver waived him a couple weeks ago.
Who would you like to see the Revs go after in this year's Re-Entry Draft? Let us know in the comments section below!