With the USL Pro 2013 regular season set to kick off in just a few weeks, the New England Revolution and the Rochester Rhinos have reached a consensus on which four players to send to upstate New York pursuant to their affiliation agreement. Bilal Duckett, Matt Horth, Gabe Latigue, and Tyler Polak will play for the Rhinos for the foreseeable future, in an effort to get them consistent playing time.
"Bilal, Matt, Gabe and Tyler are young players who should benefit from consistent playing time," Revolution General Manager Michael Burns said. "We have a very deep roster this year, and having these four players get time in Rochester will benefit their professional development, as well as our club's depth."
The Revs have the option of swapping other players on their current roster with these loanees, or sending more players on loan. However, the Revs have previously stated an intent to leave their four loaned players with Rochester for the entire season if possible, barring extenuating circumstances, to give them a full season of competitive soccer.
The names listed here aren't all that surprising, but we'll go through them one by one.
Polak is a Generation Adidas player and former USA U-20 stand-out who is currently buried on the defensive depth chart. In the little bit of regular season and preseason time that he's received, he's looked very good, but he is a great example of a player that needs to be getting pitch time every week to progress, or he'll end up a waste of potential. In any case, Polak was probably always going to be loaned this season.
Latigue is the feel-good Cinderella story on the Revs roster right now, their final pick in the Supplemental Draft who no one expected to make the team. He possesses some speed, some good one-on-one skills, and excellent crossing/set-piece capabilities. If Latigue has any hope of making an impression on the team in the future, and not going the way of previous draft picks who were cut without making any meaningful contributions to the squad, he needs to have a good season in Rochester. He, too, was probably a lock for the loan move.
Duckett is something of an interesting case. He was obviously signed to provide back line depth, and his ability to play at any defensive position was surely a key part of that decision. It does seem a bit strange to sign him from a USL team and then loan him right back to another one, but currently he's behind Goncalves, Soares, Barnes, McCarthy, Alston, and Farrell on the depth chart, and with Barnes able to play either fullback spot as well, he's probably a necessary sacrifice.
Horth must feel a little hard done, too. He was signed from the NASL's Atlanta Silverbacks, finally making the leap to the top tier of American soccer, only to be loaned down to the third tier. However, Horth currently sits behind Bengtson, Sene, Fagundez, Imbongo, and Barrett on the depth chart, with Ryan Guy also apparently seen as a possibility at forward. There's just no room for him in the first team right now, and a full season of consistent development in Rochester could be exactly what he needs to push him over the top for 2014, or even late 2013.
There were a few other players who may have benefited from the loan move, and in my opinion, none more than Sainey Nyassi. Now that he hasn't been sent down, I'm not sure where he fits into this squad barring an injury crisis. Without the chance to get consistent, meaningful minutes with Rochester, we might be seeing the end of Nyassi's time in New England.