Now four weeks into the MLS offseason, the Revolution have perfected the “slow” component of a “slow-and-steady” approach to player acquisitions. As of January 6, the club had yet to acquire a player from outside the organization, only re-signing 33-year-old midfielder Daigo Kobayashi.
But on January 13, when the 2017 MLS SuperDraft kicks off, the Revs will finally get the ball rolling on its roster rebuild. The club currently owns the 20th, 31st, and 75th overall picks in the draft.
Who should the club target with its first pick? Here are four candidates:
1. Walker Hume, Center Back, North Carolina
Accolades: Earned NSCAA Divison II All-America honors while playing for Rollins College (2013), won a PDL National Championship with the Austin Aztex (2013)
Drafting Hume would certainly raise eyebrows in Foxboro, as Jordan McCrary—a fellow UNC defender drafted 10th overall by the Revolution in 2016—fizzled out before making a regular-season appearance. But the center back-starved Revs would be wise to give Hume a look anyway. His 6-foot-5, 203-pound frame would provide added cover on crosses and set pieces, a deficiency that plagued the undersized Revolution defense in 2016. If he can use his body to win aerial duels and replicate the grit he reportedly showed at UNC, Hume would fill a major hole along Jay Heaps’ back line.
2. Francis de Vries, Center Back, Saint Francis
Accolades: Earned NSCAA All-America honors three times (2014-2016), named Northeast Conference Defender of the Year (2015)
De Vries, a native of Christchurch, New Zealand, offers plenty of intrigue ahead of the draft. During his four-year career at tiny Saint Francis University (Pa.), he built one of the most impressive college resumes of any player invited to the combine, earning All-America honors three times. But this small school background could hurt de Vries’ draft stock, which already takes a hit because of his international status.
If De Vries’ stock does slide, he would represent a strong value pick for the Revolution. The club will enter the draft with several expendable international roster spots. And de Vries’ successful run with the Michigan Bucks (PDL) should help Jay Heaps & Co. overlook his small school past.
3. Christian Thierjung, Forward/Winger, California
Accolades: Nominated as an All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention (2014), scored five goals in a single match (2016)
Though acquiring a center back serves as a top priority for the Revolution, the club could be swayed by a versatile forward like Thierjung. The California native would likely offer the most value as a winger, providing the Revs with an attacking presence who could stay wide and combine with Kei Kamara from the flank. With Thierjung on the bench, the Revs would also benefit from a player who could feature at virtually every attacking position. He’s not a center back—but he could replace Femi Hollinger-Janzen as the Revs’ attacking firestarter.
4. Brian Nana-Sinkam, Center Back, Stanford
Accolades: Named to All-Pac-12 First Team (2016), won back-to-back NCAA Division I National Championships (2015-2016), served as Standford captain (2016)
In 2016, Nana-Sinkam captained a Stanford side that did not concede a playoff goal en route to a second consecutive National Championship. A proven winner, he would provide the Revolution with Je-Vaughn Watson-like versatility, offering the ability to play all three defensive positions. At pick 20, where few players enter the league as proven commodities, that versatility could go a long way for a club in desperate need of defensive depth.
Who would you select with the 20th pick in the MLS SuperDraft? Share your top prospects below.