It may have been a bit slow in starting, but the New England Revolution offseason transformation (we hope it will eventually be qualified as such) has begun. Today’s announcement that the team has waived Emmanuel Osei follows a week player movement and news.
The changes started with the addition of Didier Domi, an experienced, left-sided, French fullback that has played in many of the top European leagues. We can talk about Domi’s addition, questioning everything from his age (we are replacing Gibbs, a 31 year old American left back, for Domi, a 31 year old French left back), his cost (not yet known) and his current playing level (the Greek league isn’t the EPL now is it?)… but he clearly has some pedigree if there is still gas in the tank and the right mentality to come in and compete.
Roster changes, however, must be thought of holistically since small rosters and tight salary caps mean every change causes ripples throughout a team.
With the addition of Domi there are some interesting roster implications that were highlighted the very next day when the Revolution announced the re-signing of Chris Tierney. Tierney is most frequently used on the left side at both defense and midfield and we should suspect these two to battle for playing time, unless Tierney can make the left midfield slot his own.
These moves also suggest that Seth Sinovic, who Nicol seemed to lose faith in toward season’s end, is happy that there is a larger senior roster in 2011.
When it comes to the draft, I love hearing (fellow?) pundits grade how the Revs made out. These grades are typically based on such little information that they are hard to take too seriously. I don’t believe that I am prone lathering undo affection on Mr. Burns or Mr. Nicol, but I’m not about to launch a stinging critique when I’ve not seen a single minute of soccer played by anyone we drafted.
And I doubt most of the graders have seen more than snippets either.
By the end of the 2010 campaign, it became fairly clear that the Revs needed help across quite a few positions. There were too few threats at forward and too many worries in defense. While midfield may not have been concern number one, a bit of offensive spark and a less predictable attack would be nice.
And since none of us know what prospects Nicol and Burns are chasing outside of the draft – and to keep Revs fans from going completely crazy, there better be some more news there – saying they picked too many or too few of any one position is a bit crass.
What I like about the Revolution draft strategy is that they led with a central defender. Why? It was clearly a need, and if there’s one position that Burns and Nicol should be able to both scout and grow, it’s that of a defender. Nicol is a defensive legend, and say what you will about Burns but he played at the highest levels the USA has to offer. And that’s more than anything we have on our back line today.
The Revolution certainly CAN succeed at drafting for other positions (see Clint Dempsey as the most obvious example of a non-defensive success), but I suspect those players are harder to find, and harder for our current leadership to nurture. Maybe it is safer to go for experience there?
Some other quick thoughts on the recent moves…
- Cleary we drafted for SuperLiga fights… I mean games. Or for the Chicago jihad… I mean rivalry. Four of the five players are six foot plus. I wonder if they will be paid in rolls of pennies…
- With a name like Stephen McCarthy, could he really have gone anywhere BUT New England?
- If Steven Perry ends up making the roster, the Revolution will finally have someone to inherit the dusty hair product left behind by Darren Sawatzky. Oh, c’mon… Perry… Sawatzky.
- Speaking of the Stevens… The Revolution have Steve Nicol, Stephen Myles, Stephen McCarthy and (potentially) Steven Perry playing or coaching. Phew, with Steve Ralston’s departure I was afraid the team was running low on Steve’s.
- Emmanuel Osei showed moments of real promise in terms of athleticism and skill, but each of those moments seemed more than balanced out by mistakes that frustrated and confounded coaches, fans and teammates alike. (Even Brad Feldman had trouble explaining some of them away.) In the end, there’s new blood coming in with Ryan Cochrane and A.J. Soares, and the lapses are too big of a liability be balanced out by a low salary.
- The idea that the Revolution helped arrange for supporters to be at the draft and support the team is a very positive sign. It suggests that 2011 might not be business as usual for the team front-office. We’ll see…
So the Revolution has started the offseason changes and more are promised. It’s hard for me to complain about any of these moves, as they all seem directionally positive.
But, the fans who heard the front-office whispers about a Designated Player hunt are all still waiting for something a bit bigger… not just taller.