Thursday marked yet another MLS Super Draft, but it was one with huge significance throughout Revs Nation: the players selected would be the first under new head coach Jay Heaps. Massive amounts of excitement were attributed to the fact that the Revs had their highest pick in almost a decade at #3, and with several holes to fill, this year's Super Draft was of utmost importance. With all of that being said, my gut reaction is that Jay Heaps, Mike Burns, and Bran Bilello did an extremely good job here. No surprises, two solid draft picks, TWO Generation Adidas picks, and both assessed a need and were the best players available in both both instances. So, without further ado, let's meet the new boys in blue, UCLA superstar Kelyn Rowe, and Creighton's defensive standout Tyler Polak!
Kelyn Rowe is going to be much more familiar to fans of the Revs (I wrote a preview piece in early December here on The Bent Musket and you can read it here) and there is certainly no shortage of accolades and acclaim for the Bruin midfielder. Recently named the Pac-12 player of the Year, Kelyn will have very little problem creating an impact on a Revs team that saw several lengthy stretches of a lack of offensive creativity last season.
Rowe has often stated that he is looking for a coach that will allow him to play with a creative freedom going forward, and if you caught coach Heaps' interview on the ESPN set this afternoon, it seems as if he's completely satisfied with creating and cultivating a much more aggressive and offensive minded philosophy on the field in 2012. With Feilhaber and Joseph already in the mix, Heaps stated that they weren't sure where he would play, but it sounded like Rowe is in his immediate plans in the Revolution midfield.
Although Rowe isn't an incredibly imposing figure (listed at 5'8"), he plays much stronger than expected, with good balance on his feet when he fights through traffic. New England absolutely lacked creativity last season, and with Rowe pairing up with Benny and Shalrie in the middle of the park, it's hard not to get too excited about the prospects of those three teaming together, and quite frankly, what two better veterans could you find to bring along a young midfielder?
The selection of Tyler Polak certainly came as a surprise to several bloggers an writers in Revs' circles, not so much for the selection, but the fact that a solid, Generation Adidas defender fell all the way to #22 in the draft. Polak was the only natural left-back in the draft at that point (a HUGE hole in the Revolution lineup) and after a standout season with Creighton in which he led the Jays to an appearance in the College Cup semifinals, this was clearly an outstanding pick for New England.
Polak is listed as 5'8" and 150 lbs. on the school's website, but after seeing him in the flesh on the draft broadcast today with Heaps and Mike Burns (he stood taller than both) I'm beginning to question the listing. Polak plays very strong on the flank, and at times has the ability to create going forward as well. Polak played almost every single minute of the Creighton Jays' season in 2011, and with the Revolution's difficulties staying healthy at times, his sturdy frame and health certainly have to be viewed as a plus.
Tyler Polak has a very attractive and seasoned pedigree with stints with the USMNT Residency program and U-17 squad, as well as the Chicago Fire Development Academy, playing for their U-23 squad in the PDL. When you add the recent success in the NCAA Tournament to his early successes on the field as well, it shows that Polak is not only a great player, but a winner, and there's no arguing that quality is needed in New England.
All in all, New England has ended up with two very solid players, that not only possess the physical qualities desired, but the will and determination to win games as well. It's far too early to call this a home run for the Revs, but when you stack up all of the positives against scarce (if any) negatives, it's certainly just fine to see that the light at the end of the tunnel is shining just a little brighter in Foxboro this afternoon.