The New England Revolution came into Thursday's MLS Draft with holes in its roster, and management filled two of them admirably with the selections of Jordan McCrary and Michael Gamble.
The outside back and striker were highlighted by New England in advance, and when the craziness settled in Baltimore, both sat anxiously in the crowd when the 10th and 30th picks rolled around. With two vastly experienced seniors in hand, the front office feels they brought in a "MLS ready" player in McCrary and the "best available" at the time in Gamble.
"We're excited about it," General Manager Mike Burns said. "We know the players. We spoke to them, they seem excited and we're looking forward to getting camp started and getting them in and seeing how we do."
As far as McCrary goes, Burns and Jay Heaps both pointed out how New England was previously thin at outside back, and was surprised somewhat to see the University of North Carolina product available midway through the first round.
While Burns stressed that there won't be "too much pressure on him" to step in for the departed Kevin Alston and Jeremy Hall, Heaps was just as quick to rave about McCrary's one-on-one defending and versatility.
"He's someone that day one is going to be fighting for a spot in the lineup because he has some maturity about him," Heaps said. "He's played four years at a big school and even when you sit down and meet with him, you understand he has a good head on his shoulders and the right demeanor to make it at this level."
Equally high on their second selection, Gamble's role is a little less clear, but he still drew rave reviews at this week's MLS Combine. The Wake Forest University product also contributed 24 goals and 20 assists across four seasons, and equates to what Heaps likes to call a "slasher."
"He was someone we watched more during the early part of his career, and I think he's one of those players to come in and play a couple different roles for us across the attacking roles," Heaps said. "We're excited to see him with our group and see what he can do and see if he can carve out a niche for himself."
All things considered, Thursday's affairs revealed that the draft is still an important acquisition mechanism for the Revolution. Historically that's always been the case, as club legends such as Sharlie Joseph, Clint Dempsey and Taylor Twellman surfaced through the draft.
Those sorts of heights won't be expected of McCrary or Gamble, but the front office is nonetheless excited for what's in store for two players that thrive upon versatility.
"There's been a lot of players who have come through that have done well and hopefully these two guys can continue that tradition," Burns said. "I've said this before and I'll say it again, the draft is something we take very seriously and we'll continue to do so."