After bowing out of the MLS Cup playoffs in the knockout round, the Revolution head into the off-season with more questions than answers. Come January, the club will look to answer some of these questions during the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, where it holds one pick in each of the first three rounds: 10th overall, 30th overall and 51st overall.
We take a way-too-early look at the draft board—and provide a little optimism ahead of the 2015 off-season. Whose name might the Revs call on draft day?
1. Jonathan Campbell, Defender, North Carolina
Accolades: Capital One Academic All-America First Team (2014), Second Team All-ACC (2013), All-South Region Third Team (2013)
After A.J. Soares elected to test his luck in Europe, Jay Heaps slotted former No. 1 pick Andrew Farrell into the center back spot. Heaps struggled to find a replacement for Farrell, however, cycling through a host of defenders: Darrius Barnes, Kevin Alston, London Woodberry, Jeremy Hall. Ahead of the 2016 season, the Revs need an MLS-ready defender—and Campbell just about fits the bill. The North Carolina native joined the Sounders U23 squad this summer and drew praise from scouts, who recognized his athleticism, strength and skill over the ball. A natural center back, Campbell would allow Farrell to move back into the right-back spot, should Heaps be willing to re-convert the converted outside back.
2. Brandon Vincent, Defender, Stanford
Accolades: MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List (2015), NSCAA/Continental Tire First Team All-American (2014), Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year (2014)
Vincent, a surefire first-round pick, offers the versatility to play centrally or on the left side. The California native anchored Stanford's back line as a freshman center back in 2012 and 2013 before switching to left back in 2014, where he developed into one of the top defenders in college soccer. Scouts have complimented his 1v1 defending, decision making and finishing ability (the left back has scored four goals thus far in 2015). Assuming Chris Tierney returns to the Revs in 2016, Vincent, a left-footed player, would likely play center back in Jay Heaps' system, again pushing Farrell out wide.
3. Patrick Hodan, Midfielder, Notre Dame
Accolades: MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List (2015), ACC Offensive Player of the Year (2014), Capital One Academic All-America First Team (2014)
Sometimes, you just have to pick the best player on the board. If Hodan happens to slip to number ten, the Revs could be enticed to opt for talent instead of need. Of course, if one (or several) of the club's attacking midfielders does not return in 2016, Hodan could easily fall into the "need" category. He offers the versatility to tuck underneath the target striker or play out wide, and, with 29 career goals and 18 career assists, has shown the ability to both score and create. Scouts have marveled at his growth during each of his collegiate seasons—meaning he seems far from his professional ceiling.
4. Neco Brett, Forward, Robert Morris
Accolades: MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List (2015), NSCAA All-Northeast Region First Team (2014), Northeast Conference Player of the Year (2014)
During his sophomore and junior seasons at Robert Morris, Brett scored 29 goals in 39 appearances. His pace seemed unsustainable. But in 16 matches this season, the Jamaican forward has scored 12 goals and contributed five assists, flashing top-tier speed and a consistent finishing ability. While the Revs don't necessarily need a forward—at least not at the moment—the opportunity to have Brett mature under Juan Agudelo and Charlie Davies presents obvious upside. Plus, this team could use a burner off the bench.
5. Zach Carroll, Defender, Michigan State
Accolades: Second-Team NSCAA All-Region (2014), ACC All-Tournament Team (2013), Starting center back at the U-17 World Cup (2011)
Though lacking some of the physical traits MLS scouts seek in a defender, Carroll could become a value pick in the latter stages of the draft. He started 22 matches at center back with Virgina (2012-2013)—recovering from an injury to guide the Cavaliers to the NCAA College Cup Semifinals—before transferring to Michigan State ahead of the 2014 season. Carroll hit the ground running with MSU, starting all 23 matches while showing strength over the ball, a nose for the goal and a knack for arriving on the end of set pieces. He doesn't appear as MLS-ready as the other defenders on our list, but has the potential to develop into a weekly contributor.
6. Joshua Yaro, Defender, Georgetown
Accolades: MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List (2015), MAC Hermann Trophy Semifinalist (2014), TopDrawerSoccer.com Player of the Year (2014)
Yaro will enter the 2016 SuperDraft as the most talented player on the board. The Revolution would need to move up in the draft to snag him (as they did with Andrew Farrell in 2013), though his skillset undeniably fits Heaps' system. According to scouts, he closes gaps quicker than any defender in college soccer, rarely makes mistakes and plays bigger than his 5-11 frame. And, to sweeten the deal, Yaro enters the draft as one of the most versatile players available, with the ability to feature as a center back, outside back or holding midfielder. Lose Jermaine Jones, and plug him into the midfield; slot Farrell wide, and drop him in front of Shuttleworth. Regardless of where he plays, Yaro would likely join the Starting XI on day one.
The 2016 MLS SuperDraft will be held January 14–16, 2016 in Baltimore, Md.