The New England Revolution managed to turn four picks into six, get rid of a horrible player, and grab a 2008 pick while only giving up $125,000 in cap space in yesterday's MLS superdraft.
Coach Nicol surprised many with the fifth pick yesterday. Many observers thought the pick acquired for a portion of the Clint Dempsey allocation money was to ensure Nicol Colaluca would be playing for his local team. Instead, Wells Thompson, a player some thought was a third rounder, was the selection (Colaluca went 6th to Colorado). Thompson is a M/F out of Wake Forest. He appears to be the player the coach had his eye on. Stevie Nicol has shown in the past he could pick'em, but was the cap space worth it? I think it was if Thompson can be a serviceable substitute the first year and ready to start the second year.
There's another way I look at this. Last year, we received a partial allocation for our 13th pick. This year, we got the 5th pick and a conditional 2008 2nd round pick for the same amount. Granted, last year's draft was a disaster for the Revs, but I'm just looking at what a 5th pick is worth. There's also the point that LA also had the 10th pick. They could have traded that pick instead, but Stevie held out for the 5th.
Passing on Colaluca doesn't concern me. He's local and it would have been nice to have another Rhode Islander on the team. However, he practiced with the team last summer and the Revs knew him well. The fact they passed on him means they think Wells can offer more. If Colaluca winds up being the next Dempsey, we know where to place blame.
For our natural first round pick, we selected Amaechi Igwe out of Santa Clara. He's on the U-20 team and players LD. He played forward in his first and only semester in college and can also play LM. He's already 6'0" and has decent speed. He'll join fellow U-20 Micheal Gonzalez on the Revs.
The second round pick was another Wake player in Ryan Solle. He's a midfielder with tremendous feet and passing skills for a college senior. Some had him going in the first round. I'm very happy we got him where we did. That makes four Wake Forrest players on the roster and they were all teammates together for two years. That can't be bad for chemistry.
The third round pick was Bryan Bryne out of UC Santa Barbara. He's a native of Ireland and will turn 25 during the season. Many teams stayed away from him because he'll count as a senior international. I watched him in the College Cup and he is a maniac wide right, will run at anyone, can pass, and is an exceptional crosser. I'm looking forward to watching this character on the field.
In the last round, the Revs traded away Kyle Brown for a late pick. They took target forward Adam Cristman out of Virginia. He seems to have a chip on his shoulder with something to prove after being selected so late. The last pick for us was athletic defender Kyle Helton out of Duke.
All and all, I thought the picks were decent. The Wells Thompson pick had a lot of people scratching their heads. There's always the notion that Nicol just wanted another 1st round pick and the fifth was the cheapest one they could get.
We'll see how this pans out, but this new group looks like a fine young base on which to build the future starting XI on.
Revs Draft Grade: B
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Thursday, January 11, 2007
David Beckham, celebrity husband, has signed with the LA Galaxy for a reported $250 million over five years.
Good for the league? Yes and no.
First off, he won't be getting most of that in salary. Granted, he'll be getting paid over five times the second highest contact in MLS history with $10 million a season. However, most of the money will be coming from renewed endorsement deals and merchandising. Don't be surprised if he rakes in just $150 million over five years. Poor baby.
What he will do for the league is flywheel the mainstream media attention now that Freddymania is dead. That won't last. It's also good for the league if he attracts more big-name players to come over, within reason. AEG, the Galaxy's owner, has deep pockets. With the MLS's designated player rule, MLS will only pay the first $400,000 of his contract. AEG pays the rest of it as well as some supposed profit sharing. Less affluent need to beware. The NASL went out of business because owners tried to duplicate what the NY Cosmos did, but didn't have the backing of Warner Bros. to do so. If the Revs were to ever try this, they would be offering far less. I'm hoping a team like KC doesn't even think about it, because that would be the end of the Wiz.
His presence will also raise attendance when he travels to each stadium for the first time. Since he won't be joining LA until August, it is highly unlikely we'll see him in Foxboro until 2008. This logic lead Chivas USA to trade their DP slot to NY a month ago. They'll see higher home attendance from visiting stars while they strengthened their team with Amado Guevara. Some are expecting the Revs to follow suit.
This signing does raise some interesting questions. If an owner of an MLS team is willing to pay one player that much, why are there so many players making under $50,000 a year? I'd be upset if I were a guy like Andy Dorman who contributed so much on the field last year but is only making EITC wages.
There's also the question of AEG spending so much money for a player on LA, yet owning two other MLS teams. Will they spend even a fraction of that on a DP for those teams? Not likely.
I welcome the signing for the league. However, I have no expectations of mainstream America adopting soccer as a major sport. Only years of producing talent that can compete with the world's best can we even begin to think about competing with France's and Holland's league for quality players in their prime. There's also a lot of economic growth MLS needs before this can happen. If it does, many more players will want to come to America to both live and play soccer in a good league.
Is Beckham the first step in respectability? Maybe. Maybe not. We'll just have to wait and see.
Clint Dempsey had his work permit approved. He is now a member of Fulham Football Club of the English premiere league. I, along with Revs fans around this country, wish him well.
I'll write about my favorite of Clint in the near future.
Monday, January 08, 2007
According to the Guardian, we'll know whether or not Clint Dempsey will receive a british work permit on wednesday.
He didn't automatically qualify for one due to narrowly missing the requirement for foreign players participating in 75% of their national side's first team games over a two year period. Clint participated in about 65% of them. From what I've heard, this should be a slam dunk, but you never know with these kinds of things.
I would love to see what happens if he gets turned down. I would think he'd look for work elsewhere in Europe. However, I highly doubt he'd draw anywhere near the reported $4 million transfer fee MLS is getting from Fulham. It's also been reported that a good chuck of that fee will be performance based, so the league might not let the Revs spend some of that on players until the that money is realized.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
The New England Revolution, for better or for worse, are unlike the other cookie-cutter MLS teams. Here's what sets the Revs apart from the pack:
1. One owner to rule them all. Bob Kraft has owned the Revs since the beginning. Not many teams can claim that. He was the lone owner left when thy decided to save the league from folding who remained, yet still opted out of SUM. Although he would have made some serious bank from the last two world cup rights, Kraft has benefited from learning how to run the Revs in a cost-effective manner. The league has also benefited from this.
2. Steve Nicol. He's a legendary player for Liverpool and Scotland. However, few (if any) past greats have been able to coach american players like he has. He understands the american player and the league. He also has the right outlook. In an interview on World Soccer Daily, he was asked how odd it was that the league, not the team owned the player contracts. He responded: "It took about a fortnight to get over. After that, you realize players are players.". He also was asked about uniform ads an he shot back with a "who gives a toss". The point being he's a legend who could walk around like a peacock, look down at his players, and throw his weight around in MLS. However, he chooses to concentrate on the task at hand: coaching his players to win.
3. Sunil Gulati's ability to hold a position with the team. I've spoke about this before. The fact that the president of US Soccer is also the Head of Kraft Soccer is puzzling. What's even weirder is he live in NYC. He also holds positions on MLS committees that often screw the Revs out of everything from higher player contracts to suspended players. What other team can claim an employee like Sunil Gulati?
4. Paul Mariner. He's a former great english player. He's responsible for much of the development of Twellman, Noonan, and Dempsey over the past few years. He's also a charismatic nut. He was once spotted stocking up at the liquor store three hours prior to a home game. Did he hide it? Nope. Just a very friendly "Hey, how's it going" to the fans who recognized him. Like Nicol, he could act like a snob, but he's very down to earth and effective with the players.
5. The Morgue. Very few teams can claim to play in a huge NFL stadium and not be a financial liability to the league. Gillette Stadium is privately owned by the Krafts. That's good for Kraft, but bad for the fans. They put a tarp over one side over the lower bowl to concentrate fans. They also quarantine the lowest price ticket holders to the worst area of the stadium in regards to sight lines. This is a major pet peeve of mine and I'll be writing about this in the future.
6. We ended Chicago's season three years in a row. I may need input on this, but I'm fairly sure it's unique to have eliminated the same team in the same stadium three years straight (and counting). One thing's for sure, at least one of them balled their eyes out each year. Ahhhh, their tears sustain me.
7. Lowest season ticket prices in the league. If you take advantage of the early bird special, you can get Cat III season tickets for less than $200. No other team has an offer like that. In fact, LA is waiting to see if they can sign a big name before they overprice their tickets. So much for packing the house.
8. The Revs don't trade. A lot of MLS teams have tried to swap a ton of players and expected great results. They don't realize that it takes time for a team to gel. Alexi Lalas has decimated two of our hated rivals in the last two seasons doing this. Thanks, man. We owe ya.
9. Every Revs game has been televised. Although it allows fans to follow the team without going to the stadium, this has kept the Revs in the public eye somewhat. The team pays for that and I'm grateful to them for it. The league is now mandating this for all teams, and the Revs are way ahead of most in this regard.
10. Three MLS Cup scoreless games, followed by three loses. This sucks, but it does make us unique. Hopefully, the team can recover from personnel loses and get back for another shot.
Jeremiah White, a former second round pick of the Revs from a few years back, was recently released from his french second division side. Even though he's been meandering around with third tier euro clubs who have been playing him out of position, coach Nicol and company should make an effort to sign him.
In an interview, White said that he and his agent had already contacted MLS as well as other european clubs. He stated that he would seriously consider giving MLS a shot if they could "pay his wages".
Whether or not the Revs could manage to sign him is one thing. They have plenty of cap space and at least two full allocations after Dempsey's transfer to Fulham goes through. The real issue may be signing a player to a contract that would make him one of, if not the, highest paid players on the team without proving he can consistantly perform well at a high level.
Pay disparity was a cause of concern for Taylor Twellman for much of last summer. A few players on other teams were making 4-5 times what he made and he was the reigning league MVP. The league refused to renegotiate because he wasn't on the world cup team. Thanks again, Brucey. He was told to wait until after the season. That complicated an already tough couple of months where the world cup snub and family concerns really affected his play. What would Twellman think if White came in and was signed for a higher contract?
Now, the disparity won't be much of an issue due to the new designated player rule basically capping domestic player salaries at $400,000 a season. However, Twellman and others have to watch Garber bragging about "over a billion dollars in new investment" and wonder why the league's pay scale is so out of whack.
From what I've heard of White, he could be the perfect replacement for Dempsey. He's fast, offensive-minded, and has the ability to score. He could be our long-term replacement for Steve Ralston at wide right. Stevie can play elsewhere, including left midfield and defense. White could also partner with Twellman up front if we try to convert Noonan into a winger, a move I've been waiting to see since his performance against Japan about a year ago.
White's a player that impressed Nicol enough to draft him 23rd overall in the draft a few years ago, even though he was seriously thinking about making the move to Europe. He's also someone who can help us immediately. Taking everything into account, I think the Revs should make a serious move for him.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
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.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Before I list a few more worries I have about the upcoming season, I have to mention that the Midnight Riders are running a scarf design contest here: http://www.midnightriders.com/Scarf_Voting-2007.htm
I have two designs: the tenth one down (midnight riders with red/blue bar on the back) and the last one (The Fort). Scarves usually go for $15 to member and $20 to non-members. There's some really good designs this year so check back in a month or so to order. And don't forget to vote!
I would also like to announce that the creator of that evolution design is letting me use it in my two shops. I have buttons and stickers in the CP shop and shirts in the printfection shop(recommended over CP for shirts). I like the way they turned out. Here's how the buttons look: