Is Bilal Duckett going to be the next Revolution player? - Jeff Vinnick
News broke that the New England Revolution and Chad Barrett are very, very close to a deal (as we predicted), but that doesn't necessarily mean the Revs are done for the immediate future. Mike Burns indicated that there was another player on the way in when he spoke at the Supporters' Summit, and the smart money looks to be on Bilal Duckett.
According to MLSSoccer.com, the Chad Barrett deal is just a few formalities away from being done after the veteran striker posted as much to (apparently) his Facebook page. What Barrett brings to the New England Revolution has already been discussed on this blog, and apart from reporting the news that the deal is pretty close to done, that's as much as I plan on talking about him today.
On the other hand, another announcement that came out of Monday's Supporters' Summit was that the Revs will be making another player signing, probably this week. Now, obviously the first place anyone's mind is going to go is Barrett. However, Mike Burns made that announcement while explaining why Hunter Freeman probably wasn't going to be a member of the Revolution squad, and that explanation was based mostly on the new proliferation of defensive depth in Foxboro. Essentially, Burns made it sound like another defender was coming in.
Furthermore, Burns also hinted that the team's final international roster spot would (or could) be spent on a forward. That further narrows the list. What we're looking at is a domestic defender not named Hunter Freeman who has probably been in camp with the team already, since the latter is a usual characteristic of their signings.
Enter The Bent Musket's consensus best-guess: Bilal Duckett.
Duckett is a defender with the versatility to play fullback and center-back, who won't take up an international slot. He's also been with the team for months now, as he joined up and trained with them for the end of last season, too. Most of all, he's probably really cheap. He washed out in Vancouver at the end of the 2011 season, but spent 2012 with the Harrisburg City Islanders in the USL Pro, best known for knocking the Revs out of the Open Cup last season. Duckett played in that match.
He may not be eye-catching, and he may not have the pedigree of a Hunter Freeman, but it's the move that probably makes the most sense. At this point, unless there was another big-splash opportunity, the Revs are likely seeking depth in defense rather than impact. You don't spend six figures on depth, and Duckett is highly unlikely to command anything other than a minimum salary.
In case people are upset at the prospect of Duckett being the next move, let's review what the defense looks like with him in it. You have Goncalves (CB), Soares (CB), Macca (CB), Alston (LB/RB), Farrell (RB/CB), Polak (LB), and Barnes (CB/LB/RB) as straight-up defenders right now, with Tierney also providing cover at left back. Add Duckett (CB/LB/RB) to that mix and you're looking at possibly the deepest defensive corps that the Revolution has had in years.
Apart from Duckett, a cursory look at the now-shortened preseason roster reveals that there isn't much left for defensive depth. That doesn't necessarily mean anything - last season Jeremiah White didn't go back to Foxboro with the team but then rejoined them in Tucson and signed - but it can be taken as an indication that those players no longer on the list may not be in the team's current plans. Gabe Latigue, Luis Soffner, and Donnie Smith are the remaining preseason players without contracts, and while any one of them could be joining the team eventually (especially Latigue and Smith, who would offer the width the Revs are lacking right now), none of the three are defenders.
The dark horse here might actually be Quinton Griffith, who was in Casa Grande with the team a few weeks ago. Griffith saw most of his time at fullback, where the depth issues are at their worst, so his signing would make sense in that regard.
However, what little we saw of Griffith wasn't promising. The man has plenty of speed, but he still seemed to get burned a bit and found himself well out of position in a couple of the highlights from the two preseason games. Furthermore, Griffith would more than likely take up an international spot as a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda, and there was already the indication that the Revs' last slot was going to a forward.
Apart from Griffith, there's maybe Supplemental Draft pick Alex DeJohn, who practiced in Foxboro but is now absent from the roster. Frankly, I can't imagine that bodes well for him, and I wouldn't put my money on it.
So, perhaps by the end of the day tomorrow or next week, we'll get an announcement that Bilal Duckett is a Revolution player. Or perhaps I'm a fool. Who knows?
What do you guys think? Duckett a good move? Happy that the Barrett deal appears about done? Let us know in the comments!