Looking ahead to the 2010 MLS SuperDraft this Thursday in Philadelphia, one would think that the Revs would go for a top notch striker in the first round, right?
After watching the New England Revolution over the last two seasons, it has become increasingly obvious to even the casual fan that the team needs help up front. And with your top two goal scorers from 2008 starting 2009 on the injured list, you would think that the Revolution would have added some support to the forward line during the off season last year. Well they didn't and they were forced to move Shalrie Joseph into a more attacking role, a move which paid off in terms of goals scored (he led the team with 9) but the midfield suffered as a result.
So you would think that the Revs, learning from the experience of last season, that they need to pick up a goal scorer in the draft, right? Once bitten,twice shy?
Nope. Here's why.
As discussed in depth and ad nauseum on the latest episode of The Midnight Ride Podcast, the Revolution have big gaping holes on the roster, and not just at forward. At Goalkeeper, they have lost Brad Knighton in the expansion draft to the Philadelphia Union, and Matt Reis has undergone rotator cuff surgery. In the back line they have lost a key defenseman in veteran Jay Heaps who has decided to retire. Another cause for concern will be the absence of regular starting midfielders Jeff Larentowicz, who is probably going to leave the team as his contract is up, and Steve Ralston, who is recovering from an ACL injury. Twellman's injury status is still questionable -and when you consider the lack of goals scored by the forwards (10 goals total - not including Twellman's 100th and 101st- a contibution of less than 33% of the team's total), and the likelihood that forward Edgaras Jankauskas is not returning to the team, you have to wonder where the goals are going to come from (the Revs scored only 33 goals last year - second to last in the league).
And while the last point is probably the most critical toward the team's success, it is also the chief reason why the Revolution should NOT draft a forward/striker in the first round this Thursday.
The chief reason is this: The Revs need instant offense. New England can not afford to wait for a goal scorer to develop the way that other teams with deeper forward lines can. And while there is undeniable talent available in the draft at the forward position, history has shown that Forwards taken in the draft have not paid instant dividends and in some cases have not paid off at all.
If you look at last years draft, there were three forwards taken in the first round. Zakuani (4 goals) was taken first by Seattle, a team that had depth at the forward position with Montero and Jaqua. Marosevic (0 goals) was taken by Dallas who started the season with Cooper and Cunningham. O'Brian White (2 Goals) taken by Toronto FC who although they struggled to score goals, on paper they were very deep at Forward. So from the top three picks at the forward position, a grand total of 6 goals over the course of the season.
The prior drafts were not much better. Patrick Nyarko, who appears to be coming into his own with the Chicago Fire, has still only scored 5 goals in his career - 4 of them in his second year. The two forwards picked in first round in 2007 draft are not even in the league. The only forward from the draft that has found success in the league is outlier Robbie Findley, who as a second round pick has 26 goals in three seasons.
So the point I am making in a rather round about way is the best way for the Revs to get offense is to look outside the draft; either by trade, or by free agent acquisition. If they were to pick up someone like Ryan Johnson (11 goals with San Jose), they would be providing Kheli Dube or Twellman (if he's healthy) with a formidable striking partner up front. The Revolution still have a designated player spot available to them as well, which they could use to attract a big name, perhaps from South America or Central America, which could also help fill the seats.
And most importantly, by looking outside the draft for help at forward, The Revs could then focus on other areas of the team where the draft has proven successful for them: Namely, Defense (See Barnes, Alston) and Midfield (Dempsey, Dorman).