“I think we made a strong statement,” Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin told the Philadelphia Inquirer after completely giving up on the 2019 MLS SuperDraft. “There’s still going to be a few kids this year that get selected that go on to have great careers, and that’s one pathway that can be successful still. We believe, though, that our kids — 17, 18 years old — [have] much more years and room for growth and development under our own pipeline. … That is a different pathway than maybe some other clubs, but at the same time I think our actions spoke loudly.”
Philly ahead of that draft traded away all of their 2019 MLS SuperDraft picks in a move that was a clear punt on the entire collegiate draft process. How about 2020? They passed on all three of their available picks. So how did this bold and rather half-baked strategy pan out on Tuesday night against a New England Revolution team that has looked at all avenues to improve their roster?
Tajon Buchanan, Henry Kessler, Andrew Farrell, and DeJuan Jones all came through the MLS SuperDraft while Matt Turner was an undrafted collegiate player. Buchanan, Kessler, and Jones all came through the draft in the past two seasons. And all four of those players were in the Starting XI in a 2-0 win over Jim Curtin’s anti-collegiate Union team. Turner, Kessler, and Farrell were big reasons why the Revs earned their first post-season clean sheet since 2008. While Buchanan blasted an insurance goal over the head of Andre Blake.
New England to their credit have gotten great value out of the MLS SuperDraft and have drafted players in recent years that have been able to make an immediate impact on the team. Just this year alone the Revs took Kessler in the first round. The University of Virginia product immediately earned a starting centerback spot next to Farrell. The 22-year-old appeared in 22 matches with 19 starts in 2020 and has started both playoff matches. Kessler earned the team’s Defender of the Year award and led all 2020 selections in appearances, starts, and minutes played. For those wondering Kessler also ranked second in games and minutes played for all rookies (take that Curtin).
Photo Credit: Ben Solomon
Revolution Roster Diverse As Team Doesn’t Give Up On Collegiate Players
The Revolution isn’t just a SuperDraft team, however. Their match-day roster included two homegrown players in Justin Rennicks and Scott Caldwell, three Designated Players in Adam Buksa, Gustavo Bou, and Carles Gil, MLS free agents in Kelyn Rowe and Seth Sinovic, trades for Tommy McNamara, Lee Nguyen, and Kekuta Manneh, and international signings like Michael Mancienne. New England to get to this point has looked at all player acquisition avenues to bring in talent and it has paid off.
Many fans and teams across the league have taken this Anti-Superdraft thought process. I would suggest other teams start to pay attention and dedicate scouting resources to the collegiate game. Or not and punt on the entire process like Curtin’s Union which are now at home golfing.
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