Thursday, January 04, 2007

New Year, New Needs

The MLS combine just got underway in South Florida. 60+ players who desire to enter the MLS draft next week are about to endure 4-5 days of physical tests, scimmages, and interviews in an attempt to impress MLS coaches and GM's. Most of the players are coming from college with a few youth players seeing if they can handle playing with more physical competition.

Excuse me for not being that excited. Don't get me wrong, I'm watching this draft class closer than the previous few. The thing is, the Revs need to add quality players in the offseason outside of the draft if we are to be a contender in all competitions. I want the Revs to compete for the supporters shield. That's unlikely with the current lineup. One injury and we'll be in the duldrums like last summer. However, this doesn't diminish the importantance of the draft.

The Revs need to make their first two picks good ones. Losing Clint Dempsey and Avery John leaves a hole. If we lose Shalrie Joseph, it will leave a canyon. We may need to fill as many as eight roster spots. Including the supplemental draft, we only have seven picks. We need to draft at least one midfielder with the potential to start at some point in the season in case Willie Simms and Arsene Oka aren't ready to step up.

We probably wouldn't have this problem is we had picked Sturgis and Altidore with the 11th and 13th pick in the '06 draft. Last year's first pick was injured going into the year and lasted only a few weeks before being dumped without ever kicking a ball. Willie Simms wasn't ready to contribute to the playoff push last year and saw sparse playing time. Altidore made a splash late and will be a first choice striker in NY. Strurgis saw a lot of time in the LA back line. Maybe we could have developed Reily as a midfielder if Sturgis were with us. Hindsight is 20/20, ain't it?

There are two college players who could help fill our needs and were raised localy (sorry, BC's Charlie Davies is off to europe). Nico Calaluca is an italian-american raised in Pawtucket who honed his skills playing streetball with costa rican immigrants. His family currently lives in Coventry. I'm still trying to erase all records of that fact (grrr). Anyhow, he's an offensive-minded player at UVA with great skill for a college player. He just added defense to his vocabulary which is always nice.

The other player is Duke's Mike Videira who hasn't declared for the draft. He's another attacking midfielder, but he's a bit more physical. He's from Milford, MA. Both players are under 21 and could potentially help the Revs out.

Hopefully, this year's draft is a strong one. Lord knows, we need some depth.