Most draft picks are lost for words when they’re selected, when their lifelong dream is finally realized.
For Brian Wright, the New England Revolution’s first round pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, that was hardly the case. Rather, the 21-year-old forward out of the University of Vermont spoke at great length about what this moment means to him.
“It’s still surreal to me and very exciting at this point,” Wright said in an exclusive interview with The Bent Musket. “Ever since I was a little kid, I told my myself, I told my family that I wanted to be a professional soccer player. To hear my name get called is an amazing feeling, and proves all the hard work is starting to pay off. I still have a lot of work ahead of me to have a long career.”
While Wright oozed humility, one could understand if he carried himself with some swagger and confidence. In playing for the Catamounts, one of the America East conference’s premier squads, he banged home 39 goals and handed out 25 assists across four seasons.
In his senior campaign, the native of Ajax, Ontario was electric, earning NSCAA Second Team All-American honors and being named a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy. Perhaps most of all, Wright said he spent those four years learning what it would take to become a professional.
That attitude caught the eye of Jay Heaps, his new head coach.
“We’re excited about Brian and not just his goalscoring presence, but also his ability to create, his ability to hold the ball,” Heaps said. “We feel like he’s a forward that can come in and compete for minutes.”
Should the 6-foot-1, 192-pound striker earn those minutes, he won’t have to travel far for the start of his professional career.
In fact, the trip from his adopted home – Vermont’s campus – to Gillette Stadium is just shy of 250 miles.
“I definitely consider Vermont and Burlington to be home to me now, and the fact I’ll still be close to Burlington is an amazing feeling to me,” Wright said. “I can have my coaches come visit me, friends come visit me. It’s close for my family, so if they ever want to make a trip it’s all very convenient.”
Above all, Wright was overjoyed that New England called his name in Los Angeles, California. Given the proximity to Burlington, he’d often watch Revs games on TV, and now he’ll be donning the red, white and blue.
Plus, New England has long had a fruitful history with selecting strikers high up the board at the SuperDraft – in 2002 it picked Taylor Twellman, in 2004 Clint Dempsey, in 2014 Patrick Mullins and in 2016 Femi Hollinger-Janzen.
Wright certainly has a long ways to go until he reaches those heights, but he’s merely thankful for the opportunity New England tossed his way.
“I’m just excited to be in a club like the Revs with the passionate fans that they have,” Wright said.
Furthermore, here’s a brief question and answer section so Revs fans can get a better sense of Wright as a player and person.
TBM: Are there any professional players you try to emulate?
Wright: “My coaches always compared me to [Didier] Drogba in terms of having a big frame and holding up the ball. I can also get behind the line and help this team defensively on set pieces and what not.”
TBM: What early MLS memories do you have? Your generation grew up with the league.
Wright: “Being a Toronto native, seeing how the club developed and how the city took to it, was special. Soccer is definitely growing in North America, it’s so big up in Toronto and the kids are starting to get more and more into soccer up north. Then seeing the league grow over the years. I know at the beginning not many people were watching, and now it’s grown. You can watch games in over 130-something countries, and now I’m coming into the league at this time.”
TBM: When you were at the MLS Combine, did you have any conversations with Jay Heaps or Mike Burns?
Wright: “They’re one of the teams that I met well with at the combine. They seemed to be interested when we had the meeting, they seemed to be looking forward to it. They asked me questions straight up about me and I gave them the truth. They seemed to like me as a person as well as my game.”
TBM: What goes through your head when you think of playing alongside the likes of Lee Nguyen, Juan Agudelo and Kei Kamara in attack?
Wright: “It’s exciting to hear of the players that I’ll play alongside in preseason and get to know. I’ll look to learn while I’m here, keep developing and look to make my impression when I get there.”
TBM: Any favorite clubs that you grew up supporting?
Wright: “Chelsea. I’ve always supported Chelsea, and then later on when I was at UVM my coaches started comparing me to Drogba.”