Just over two hours into the 2021 MLS Super Draft the New England Revolution were on the clock with the 24th overall pick. New England took a timeout at the end of their allotted time and then came back with a surprising announcement. With former defender Chris Tierney announcing the pick the team selected Pittsburgh Forward Edward Kizza.
A native of Kampala, Uganda, Kizza will occupy an International Roster spot which for an MLS SuperDraft pick in the ’20s is a big give-up. This speaks to the team’s confidence in his ability to come in and compete for minutes right off the bat. Many MLS teams likely stayed away from Kizza due to his departure from Pitt in October. That being said some were very high on Kizza. Coming into the 2021 MLS SuperDraft SBI Soccers’ Ives Valarcep had Kizza as the sixth-best player available in the draft.
“He’s in good standing here,” Pitt soccer coach Jay Vidovich told Craig Meyer of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in October. “He didn’t desert the program or anything like that. He’s just dealing with other responsibilities.”
“No,” said Revs Sporting Director and Head Coach Bruce Arena on if there were any concerns on Kizza leaving Pitt early. “We did background work with his coach who I have known for 20 years. Jay Vidovich, one of the outstanding people in college soccer and an excellent coach. I trust his word. And, I checked with other coaches and the player (Kizza) came out with good grades. He is a very good player and we feel very fortunate that we got him as late as we did in the first round. So I think we got a little bit of luck with this draft pick. He graduated from Pitt in December. So he is going to come in and be ready for preseason.”
In 2019 he started 20 matches for Pitt scoring 12 goals and tallying four assists. In three collegiate seasons, he appeared in 53 matches, 52 starts, and bagged 31 goals, and tallied 7 assists. Accolades were bountiful for Kizza at Pittsburgh with two All-ACC First Team nods coming in 2018 and 2019. Kizza is a physical striker who was able to consistently score goals in college. Look for him to provide the Revolution depth up top behind Adam Buksa and give them a true back-up striker option. This was an area of weakness for the team during the 2020 MLS season.
Revolution Take Revs II Signee At Pick 51
The second round brought pace to the MLS SuperDraft. With the Revs quickly up at pick 51 the club selected Francois Dulysse. Dulysse, a 21-year-old defender, signed a USL League One contract with Revs II back on December 9th.
He started his collegiate career with the University of Central Florida but has spent the last two years at Manhattan College. In three collegiate seasons, he logged 30 games including 15 in his junior year where he logged over 1,000 minutes. In his junior season, he helped Manhattan earn a MAAC Tournament berth. Dulysse is currently apart of the U-23 player pool for Hati. With Manhattan College not playing last season, the Revs were able to scout the centerback during his time with the Haitian National Team.
With the selection, the Revs now own his MLS rights for two seasons while he can play and develop in USL League One.
Photo Credit: Manhattan College
Revolution Draft As A Whole
New England did have a third pick in the draft at No 78 but they elected to pass which is common with what other MLS teams tend to do in the later stages of the draft.
In his post-draft press conference Bruce Arena noted that this year is a lot different than last year. Only 25ish DI programs actually held seasons for soccer this past year and the team couldn’t scout players in person. This meant the technical staff going thru video, making phone calls, and doing all the leg work remotely to ensure they were educated properly on each player.
Another change that is specifically Revolution related is their roster build ahead of the draft itself. New England’s overall roster is in a better spot than 2020 with depth covered at the majority of key positions. In terms of the club’s thought process on the 2021 SuperDraft. The best talent available versus positional needs. The Revolution looked at things from a positional needs perspective, taking Kizza with their first pick added depth at the striker position. And then later on bolstering the center back position with Dulysse.
“Certainly positional needs,” said Arena when asked about the club’s approach to the draft. “We have a roster that we feel good about. We have good depth at most positions. We think we needed a little bit of help in the number nine position as well as center-back. We were able to address that in the draft. Hopefully, these players can come in and show us that they have potential.
Two Revs II Signees Drafted By Other Teams
There were four players in the MLS SuperDraft player pool that had signed USL League One contracts with Revs II. One of those players, Michael DeShields, was selected with the fifth overall pick by D.C. United out of Wake Forest.
Essentially the way this works is if DeShields is offered a contract (he will be) from D.C. his USL League One contract will be voided. But if he isn’t offered a contract D.C. would hold his MLS rights for two seasons and could still play with Revs II. As an example, last year the San Jose Earthquakes drafted defender Jonathan Bell in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft. Bell was not offered an MLS contract and ended up signing with Revs II where he spent the 2020 season. This past off-season the Revs then traded for Bell’s MLS rights in order to potentially sign him to a first-team contract.
In total there were three Revs II signees in the MLS SuperDraft player pool with Francois Dulysse and Sean O’Hearn being the other two. O’Hearn like DeShields was drafted by another MLS team. The Georgetown defender was taken by Minnesota United with the 38th overall pick in the draft.
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