While fully expected by most, the Revolution made it official today by signing the two second-round draft picks to official contracts. Both players have been with the team since being drafted in January and will look to make their mark on the squad in the upcoming 2013 season (if they don't end up spending most of it in Rochester).
Per a team press release, the New England Revolution have announced the additions of 2013 SuperDraft picks Donnie Smith and Luis Soffner to their now 28-man roster for the upcoming season. Smith, a midfielder from UNC-Charlotte, and Soffner, a goalkeeper from Indiana University, have both been with New England for the entirety of pre-season including both trips to Arizona.
"We're pleased to bring Donnie and Luis into the team," Revolution General Manager Michael Burns said. "Donnie has a unique combination of tremendous speed and wide play on the left side, while Luis was one of college soccer's top goalkeepers the last few seasons. Both players did well during preseason training and we're looking forward to seeing them develop in our system."
Smith, 22, whom the Revs drafted with the 21st overall pick of the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, appeared in six preseason games with the Revolution, recording one assist in the 3-1 win against New York Red Bulls on Feb. 16. Smith was a 2012 NSCAA Scholar All-America at UNC-Charlotte, and scored four goals and added four assists in 19 appearances (16 starts) in his 2012 senior season.
In 2011, he earned second-team All-Atlantic 10 Conference honors, scoring five goals and adding three assists in 25 appearances (10 starts). He was recognized on the 2011 NCAA College Cup all-tournament team after helping the 49ers advance to the national championship match. At the conclusion of his sophomore season, Smith earned 2010 first-team All-Atlantic 10 honors.
Soffner, 23, whom the Revs drafted with the 36th overall pick of the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, appeared in one preseason game with the Revolution, earning a win in the team's 4-1 victory over Phoenix FC (USL PRO). Soffner was a four-year starter at Indiana and backed the Hoosiers to the 2012 NCAA Championship while earning NCAA College Cup Most Outstanding Defensive Player honors.
He started 83 of 84 career matches, and, as a senior, posted a goals-against average of 0.72, with 12 shutouts. His 16 wins as a senior were the most at IU since 2004 (19). For his career, Soffner was 47-26-11 with a 0.93 GAA. His 32 career shutouts and 262 career saves both rank fourth, respectively, in IU history.
Unless you haven't followed the Revs at all this off-season, these additions should come as no surprise. Smith, in particular, showed very well in the pre-season matches he participated in. His speedy wing play provides a remedy to a Revolution attack that was diagnosed with a severe lack of width after last season. Smith, in many ways, is a lot like Chris Tierney but with more acceleration and 1-on-1 skill; both tend to hug the touch line and send in service to the box. His addition makes even more sense when you consider that Tierney may be sidelined with injury for an uncertain amount of time as of this writing.
Soffner, on the other hand, seemed to be a shoe-in from the get-go without ever playing significant minutes in pre-season. After all, the Revs needed a third keeper. With an impressive pedigree, the IU keeper will look to impress over the course of the season and may even see some game-time at some point considering how wide-open the Revolution goalie situation still seems to be.
Though they are solid options that will surely be able to contribute plenty to this still-rebuilding New England squad, both players may be faced with loan moves to the Revs' USL PRO affiliate Rochester Rhinos, who will receive a minimum of four players from the Revolution. That's not to say that they couldn't, or wouldn't, be recalled at some point in the season, but they may, at the very least, look to start off their professional careers in New York. That is, of course, still to be determined, and with a week one bye they still have time to prove to Jay Heaps and his coaching staff that they deserve to stick around in Foxboro instead.