Andrew Farrell, #1 overall pick, 2013. Brandon Bye, #8 overall pick, 2018. Tajon Buchanan, #9 overall pick, 2019. DeJuan Jones, #11 overall pick, 2019. Henry Kessler, #6 overall pick, 2020.
That’s a good list of defenders who made starts last year for the Revolution, all of them in front of undrafted United States international goalkeeper Matt Turner, who was passed by EVERYONE in MULTIPLE rounds of drafting before the Revs scooped him up to be their third keeper and we know the rest of that story.
Normally this is where I would continue my years long rant that the New England Revolution really need to go with a centerback at the top of the first round of the MLS SuperDraft. That’s because AJ Soares is still not walking through that door and it took the Revs like 6 years to replace him via the draft. But I digress, because the Revs did take a centerback last year and to the surprise of no one, and least of all me, it went really well. Surely the Revs don’t need to do it again? Do they?
Before we highlight three areas of need for the Revolution in today’s draft (first round live stream on MLSSoccer.com at 2pm), first let us pour one out for the SB Nation MLS Mock Draft which did not happen again this year. The SuperDraft has usually been the true start to the offseason for New England, except under Bruce Arena who goes out and signs players in December.
Here’s a few links to some mock drafts and position guides to browse before the draft this afternoon:
TopDrawerSoccer’s Final 2021 Mock Draft
Travis Clark’s MLSSoccer.com 2021 Mock Draft
Matt Doyle’s MLSSoccer.com Positional Big Board Draft Guide
Both Mock Drafts have the the Revs picking Virginia Tech forward Kristofer Strickler, which I find odd for a few reasons. First, he’s only listed at 5’10’’ and doesn’t fill what I think is a more important need for a more target/lone striker type. Secondly, Bruce Arena is a proud Virginia Cavalier and there’s no way he’s drafting a VA Tech Hokie.
Overall, the Revs roster and depth chart right now is really, really solid. Which makes sense for a team coming off an MLS Eastern Conference Final appearance. But there are a few areas where the Revs could improve still and the draft is a solid place to fill out the roster.
The New England Revolution have all three of their natural selections and will pick 24th overall (first round), 51st overall (second round), and 78th overall (third round). Here are what I think are the areas of greatest “need” going into the draft.
Ball-Winning/Aerial Centerback or Holding Midfielder
Okay, so the Revs don’t exactly need another centerback or another holding center mid. But, they are absolutely dreadful at defending set pieces and corners and having a young big defender type to throw in late to help relieve the pressure from crosses and balls into the box could be helpful. If Henry Kessler or reserve Collin Verfurth are the only really tall options for the middle of the backline, so if there is a need, that would be it.
I’m only going to highlight one potential draftee in this column, and that is Wake Forest centerback Michael DeShields. I mention him in particular because this is a Revs II player from 2020 and you’re going to see a few players drafted from the USL ranks this year. Because the coronavirus wrecked a lot of college schedules, a handful of players gave up their eligibility to go pro and get some USL minutes last year prior to the draft...but they still need to have their collegiate rights selected today because reasons I guess. If the Revs really like DeShields (Doyle has him ranked as the 6th CB, and going in the late first/second round in his column) don’t be surprised to see them use some Garber Bucks to move up in either the first or second round to secure his rights.
Box-to-Box Outside Midfielder
New England has a lot of central midfielders of all kinds, but not a lot of box-to-box two way players in the mold of what Teal Bunbury has done in recent seasons. Sure, Ema Boateng, Gustavo Bou or even Carles Gil can play out wide but there are times when you need your outside wide players to play defense too to close out games. The Revs have a lot of ways to deploy their center mids/wingers but an old school, two-way box to box midfielder or two could go a long way even it means a lot of minutes at Revs II in the near future.
Okay, this is kind of a stretch and any attacker taken in this SuperDraft is absolutely only going to get mintues at Revs II this year, but hear me out. The Revs have a lot of good options at striker but only Adam Buksa is a true target man up top, particularly when he’s deployed alone. I’d like to see the Revs deploy more two-man strike partnerships up top to take advantage of Justin Rennicks’ skill set in particular. The Revs don’t likely need an attacker, but if they were to draft someone it should someone comfortable playing up top by themselves in the classic back to goal target #9 role.