BALTIMORE, Md. – With the 2011 MLS SuperDraft set to commence in less than 24 hours at the Baltimore Convention Center, speculation continues to swirl regarding where the top prospects will be selected on Thursday afternoon.
Revolution beat writer Kyle McCarthy was in attendance at the recently-completed MLS Player Combine in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and he joined me on Wednesday afternoon upon his arrival in Baltimore to discuss the Revs’ areas of need ahead of the draft.
Like the Revolution's technical staff, you came to Baltimore directly from the 2011 MLS Player Combine in Ft. Lauderdale. Having seen many of the top prospects play for the past few days, what are your overall impressions of this year's draft class as a whole?
It's a fairly strong class. This particular crop probably doesn't have the top end talent we've seen in past years, but there are two very good players – the Akron duo of Perry Kitchen and Darlington Nagbe – to headline it. After Kitchen and Nagbe, there's a decently sized group of players with fairly similar talent levels. It's certainly deep enough for teams in the first half of the first round to feel comfortable about getting a decent prospect no matter how things unfold.
The Combine is only part of the equation for college players who've been establishing themselves for the last three or four years, but with that said, which college players might've raised their stock in the last few days?
Jalil Anibaba (North Carolina) stands out to me as the one player who really helped his cause. It's hard to say where he might have gone before the Combine, but his assured performances at the back bolstered his stock considerably. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him come off the board in the top five after the past weekend.
While the Combine is only part of the equation for college players, it was pretty much the whole equation for the international players who are mostly unknown. There were some intriguing players in the bunch - did anyone in particular impress?
This group of international players represents a fairly large step forward from previous attempts to infuse the SuperDraft with a bit of external flavor. Lanky forward Victor Estupinan is probably the best prospect, but the likes of Paolo Cardozo, Joao Plata and John Rooney also showed well. It wouldn't be a surprise to see all of those guys come off the board by the end of the second round.
As a beat writer for the Revs you have a keen knowledge not only of the club's needs heading into the 2011 season, but also the types of players who usually fit into Steve Nicol's system. Who are some of the players you believe could be attractive to the Revs with the sixth overall pick?
It's a really tough call because the three teams in front of the Revs – D.C. United, Chivas USA and the Philadelphia Union – will play a large role in dictating the available selection pool. Anibaba would offer another option in central defense, while perhaps a midfielder like Michael Farfan (North Carolina) or a forward like Corey Hertzog (Penn State) could also enter the reckoning.
Beyond that sixth overall pick, the Revs have four more selections in rounds two and three of the SuperDraft, plus three more rounds in next week's Supplemental Draft. While teams rarely find instant contributors in the latter rounds, what areas of need might the Revolution look to fill beyond the first round?
It's all about finding quality depth and landing the best available at this point in the draft. Cover on the right side of the field – both at fullback behind Kevin Alston and on the flank behind Sainey Nyassi – would make a lot of sense. If there's a decent attacking option available, another striker could come off the board.