Having submitted a few burning business/operations questions to Revolution COO Brian Bilello already, I figured I would continue to take up the Revolution’s generous offer and ask some of Mike Burns as well. (See the first discussion here.)
The good news is on the “soccer side” of things, I don’t know of anyone who can question the soccer specific focus or knowledge of the staff. Steve Nicol is nearly sainted in these parts, and Michael Burns (if not everyone’s idol) certainly seems worthy of respect.
I’ll caveat this blog with the understanding that I only have public information. Luckily, that includes a decent review of salary information from the MLS Player’s Union and statistics from websites near and far.
I do not, however, know all the intricacies of contracts and the detail of some MLS transfer and personnel rules. Some of this is easy to find, some not. If my assumptions are off base, I’d love to understand more by those who know it.
Question: I’m sure this is a question that will be posed time and time again, but can you describe the roles of both Steve Nicol and yourself when scouting, drafting and acquiring players?
Why I ask: To be fair, when player additions turn out well, fans praise Steve Nicol. When player signings appear to go poorly, fans blame Mike Burns. Perhaps everyone has it all wrong?
Question: I would imagine that it helps to have a specific “style” of soccer in mind when scouting players. I wondered, is there a “shared vision” of how the New England Revolution believe soccer should be played? What is it? Does it affect the choice of players we sign? Does this vision extend to your burgeoning efforts in youth development?
Why I ask: If the Revolution has a chosen style of soccer, I want to be the first to hear it defined. I would humbly suggest – especially now that the team has been mandated into the youth development world – that such a vision should be created if it does not already exist.
If the team strives to be something special, why not start with a view how soccer should be played in a Revolution jersey? This instills a sense of direction, player pride, fan appreciation and consistency of purpose that spans management personnel and the ups and downs of any particular season.
Question: Have any creative options been discussed internally or with the league about the ongoing uncertainty of Taylor Twellman’s recuperation and what it means to the Revolution roster?
Why I ask: Taylor Twellman is a great goal-scorer. If possible, Revolution fans would start him in the next game all foreseeable games after that. I also don’t know of any fans that have any doubt if Taylor could be playing, that he would be playing.
That said, Taylor is not playing. In fact, he played only twice last year and not at all this year. Nobody has complained that he’s still with the team. Nobody has mentioned the (contractually obligated?) raise of nearly forty thousand dollars he got in 2010.
But there comes a point in a salary capped league, when a star player simply cannot play that a team must make some hard calls. And that is why I ask about creative options, and I certainly hope my team has smart people thinking more shrewdly than their peers at other teams.
With that backdrop, help me see why this couldn’t have worked… I see the potential for Taylor to have “retired” from active playing and be “hired” as an Assistant Coach. (“Striker’s Coach”)
He could still get paid a nice salary, not be counted against the salary cap and have been able to train with the team every day, just like now. And when he’s healthy? Oh, I imagine there would be some players could be moved. For instance, some other expensive ($240,000?) strikers that haven’t played the equivalence of two full MLS games this year.
What MLS rules would that have broken?
Question: Continuing on the theme of being creative… my understanding of the newly updated Designated Player rule is that each DP now costs less to a team in overall salary cap money. If there are no plans to add a Designated Player soon, wouldn’t you immediately take Taylor Twellman and Shalrie Joseph and make them DP’s? This would save us money under the cap, which could (of course) be reinvested in other roster slots as raises or, dare I say, upgrades.
Why I ask: Again, my understanding of MLS rules might be all wrong – there is not much specificity in the Regulations here. (Happy to learn more.)
Or the Revolution might be about to sign two big-name Designated Players. (Happy to hear it.)
However, I’d hate to think that nobody is thinking far enough outside the box to come up with this stuff if it does make sense.
Question: Do you think Designated Players, if/when brought in, should have both soccer and marketing value associated with them?
Why I ask: I suspect there could be some fan disagreement with this, but I certainly do.
Do you want Ronaldinho more than a younger, also-talented, non-Brazilian to fill the stadium? I say yes.
Do you consider Deco (who’s currently out of the picture at Chelsea) because he’s a creative player that might excel in front of Shalrie Joseph and is used to fast and physical play, or because he has generates interest to both the Brazilian and Portuguese fans in the area? I say both.
Question: It’s great to have Steve Ralston back. (Well, sorta back – enough already with the injuries.) Nobody discounts his desire to help his home town, but if there was a quick and easy contract discussion at the end of last season, would we really ever had to have said goodbye?
Why I ask: I have written about Steve Ralston’s return before. (See blog here.) But I know of very few people who believe that Steve, without provocation, decided to leave to help start A.C. St. Louis simply because of a desire to get soccer moving in his old home town.
I think most fans understand the pressures under the salary cap, but even under a quick glimpse at Niouky and Khano Smith alone I see about $100,000 ready to cover a good chunk of Steve’s salary. And yes, I think the fans would take a two-for-one deal on that one. (Note – yes, I realize that some other low-salary players would take up roster space in their place… I’m just making a point.)
Question: Over the last few years, what would you say has been your biggest success area related to bringing new players on board, and what has been the area that has troubled the team the most?
Why I ask: Most fans see the Revolution as having had great success in the MLS draft, but mediocre value from its (often much more expensive) international signings. This could be based on a limited scouting network outside the US, considered a “fact of life” for bringing in international players, or something else. I’d be curious how management sees it.
Well, there are many more questions that could be asked, but Father’s Day has turned over into a work day, and I best get some sleep.
Thanks again, Revolution, for this offer of submitting questions. My edited list from above will be on your blog shortly.
Tag, you’re it.