During the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, the Revolution front office looked beyond its glaring defensive needs and chose to bolster its attack, drafting forward Brian Wright (20th overall) and midfielder Napo Matsoso (31st).
Both picks offer intrigue, as Wright’s senior season at Vermont ended in a bid for the MAC Hermann Trophy and Matsoso, a decorated player in his own right, assisted 20 career goals at Kentucky.
Do either of these moves make sense for the Revolution? Our staff weighs in—and dishes out draft grades for the team’s first two picks.
Grades for the Revs’ Draft Performance
The SuperDraft isn't the same source of talent that it once was. Sure, the top five picks are always going to be valuable and there are certainly gems to be unearthed in the later rounds if teams do their homework (or have luck on their side). But overall, the draft has dwindled in importance and the Revs should be commended for recognizing this fact.
Heading into Friday, most pundits believed that the Revs would go after a defender or two. It was a logical assumption given the current state of the roster, but also an incorrect one. By the time it got to the Revs' 20th overall pick, there were few defenders left that were guaranteed to be successful. Instead of picking a defender just for the sake of it, they went for players that they have more confidence in.
Wright should be a valuable spark off the bench while Matsoso has been recognized as a draft-day sleeper. Might one—or both—turn out to be flops? Sure, but the Revs obviously scouted them and see potential. Selecting two players with upside, while remaining focused on the international market, earns the Revs a B.
The Revolution have desperate needs at center back, needs that could not be filled at the MLS SuperDraft without pulling off a massive trade to get into the top five to draft Miles Robinson. Either that trade was deemed to be too expensive or the Revs front office are close to international deals to help shore up the backline.
With that being said, what the Revs did in the SuperDraft was very logical. With the losses of Femi Hollinger-Janzen to the expansion draft and Steve Neumann to retirement, New England did find replacements for two prior draft picks in this years draft. And there's nothing wrong with that, except for the small problem that New England only has five true defenders on its current roster. This draft grade could rise and fall depending on what the team does to fix their depth on the backline in the coming weeks. Currently, I'll give them a minimum passing grade, an average number for a team that I think usually gets more from its draft picks than most teams in MLS.
Also, players like Brandon Aubrey fell to Toronto at No. 21 and Hume and Schmidt were selected in the second round, so there were defenders available for the Revs to take despite the fact they didn't move up in the draft. Both Wright and Matsoso could be contributors on this Revs team in 2017 but that could be all for naught if the defense doesn't get sorted out in the next few weeks.
In any given year, the draft only features a handful of "slam dunk" picks. Syracuse center back Miles Robinson, who went second overall to Atlanta United, seemingly represented one of those picks.
The Revs entertained the idea of trading up for Robinson, but ultimately stayed put and selected Wright at pick 20. Wright consistently showed a nose for the goal while at the University of Vermont and figures to compete for minutes off the bench in 2017.
But here's the issue: while Wright should develop into an important attacking piece, he only meets a secondary need. Robinson could’ve started out of the gate had the Revs paid the (high) price to trade up. And any number of center backs still on the board at pick 20—Brandon Aubrey, Brian Nana-Sinkam, Justin Schmidt—would have provided immediate depth at the Revs' weakest position.
With pick 31, the Revs again drafted for attacking depth by taking Matsoso instead of grabbing first-round defensive prospects Michael Amick or Walker Hume.
If the club signs a pair of veteran center backs in the coming days, these draft-day decisions will make more sense; both Wright and Matsoso have the potential to grow into regular contributors. But for the time being, it appears the Revs missed opportunities to add both quality and depth to its back line.
Cumulative Draft Grade: C+