Second-round picks focus on attack, goalkeeping
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The spotlight may have shined brightest on top overall pick Andrew Farrell during Thursday afternoon’s MLS SuperDraft, but hours later the New England Revolution quietly continued to build a complete squad with a trio of additional picks in the second round.
After tabbing Farrell as the first overall selection, the Revs drafted UNC-Charlotte midfielder Donnie Smith (21st overall), Xavier forward Luke Spencer (23rd overall) and Indiana goalkeeper Luis Soffner (36th overall). Soffner will compete for a spot on a goalkeeping corps which already includes veteran Matt Reis and up-and-comer Bobby Shuttleworth, while Smith and Spencer could both potentially add different elements to the attack.
“Spencer’s an out-and-out forward. We feel good that he was there at the 23rd pick,” said General Manager Michael Burns. “And at the 21st pick to get Donnie Smith, he has some versatility as well. He can play left midfield, can play wide in an attacking role. We felt fortunate that those two players were available at 21 and 23.”
Smith was one of the stars of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, claiming College Cup All-Tournament team honors after helping guide the 49ers to the national championship game. A speedy winger, the 22-year-old scored 18 goals and added 10 assists in 82 collegiate appearances.
“Donnie Smith is a little bit different in this draft,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “He’s probably one of the true wide players in the draft. For us, he’s very strong athletically. He can get by people with his left foot, down to the touchline, put crosses in. He’s someone that’s going to be more dangerous on the attack for us.”
More physically imposing is Spencer, a 6-foot-2, 192-lb forward who exploded for 14 goals and eight assists in just 22 appearances during a stellar senior season at Xavier. The Revolution thought highly enough of Spencer to invite him to the club’s own Combine, held in December at Gillette Stadium. It was at that event when New England solidified its interest in the hulking striker.
“Luke Spencer, for me, is a big strong forward who can hold up the ball pretty well,” said Heaps. “He’s someone who came to our Combine, as well, so we’ve seen him not only play at Xavier, but also up close and personal at our own Combine. That’s always good when you can get that familiarity with a player. We feel like we’ve seen him take a lot of touches, play a lot of games. That’s important when you’re deciding.”