FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Don’t blink or you might miss it.
After a full week of buildup rife with speculation, Stage 2 of the 2011 MLS Re-Entry Process came and went in a matter of minutes on Monday afternoon, with a total of 12 players selected in the rapid-fire draft. That figure includes two players – the LA Galaxy duo of Frankie Hejduk and Dasan Robinson – who were selected by their own team at the conclusion of the process.
For the second straight year, the Revs made a pair of selections in Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Process, picking up the rights to forward Nate Jaqua (second overall) and midfielder Clyde Simms (21st overall). Both players will be extended genuine contract offers by the league within seven days, and the players can choose to either accept or decline those offers.
Should the Revolution be unable to reach an agreement with either player, the club will maintain the right of first refusal for that player in MLS. Of course, the overriding hope is that both Jaqua and Simms will be suiting up for the Revs in 2012.
“Assuming [the contract negotiation] goes well and they decide that they want to sign with MLS and play for New England, we believe we’ve added two guys that will help us on the field, which is first and foremost,” said General Manager Michael Burns. “Both have a lot of experience in MLS.
“Both players have very good reputations as being good pros,” added Burns, who has consistently emphasized the significance of a player’s off-field attitude in addition to the on-field contribution. “That’s important to us. That’s important that we have good pros in our locker room.”
Jaqua spent the past three seasons in the Pacific Northwest with Seattle Sounders FC after previous stints with the Chicago Fire (2003-06), LA Galaxy (2007) and Houston Dynamo (2007-08). The 30-year-old target man stands at 6-foot-3 and would provide a physical presence at the forward position not seen in Foxborough in recent years.
“He certainly adds a dimension that we don’t feel we’ve had in a long time,” Burns said of Jaqua, who has 41 goals and 29 assists in 197 career MLS appearances. “He’s a big, strong target guy who can play well with his back to goal, hold people off and hopefully get other people involved in the game. And, at the end of the day, you always want your forwards to score.”
Like Jaqua, the 29-year-old Simms brings a wealth of experience following a largely successful seven-year stint with D.C. United. Primarily used as a defensive midfielder, Simms was a stalwart in the middle of the field at RFK Stadium, making 182 appearances and guiding United to Supporters Shields in 2006 and 2007.
“In the case of Clyde, he’s played a lot of games during the last four years for D.C. and we think he’s going to be a guy who could certainly fight for a starting role,” said Burns. “We do have Shalrie (Joseph) and we do have Stephen (McCarthy, both central midfielders), but with the departure of Pat (Phelan), we feel like we’ve addressed that need.”
The selections of Jaqua and Simms come one week after the Revolution nabbed versatile left-sided player Danleigh Borman in Stage 1 of the Re-Entry Process. Borman is currently weighing the Bona Fide Offer extended by the league.
With seven players having departed since the end of the 2011 campaign, the Revs have begun the process of reshaping their roster with the selections of Borman, Jaqua and Simms. But as noted by Burns, picking up the rights to the experienced trio is simply the first step, albeit an important one.
“During the next few weeks we’ll follow up on all and try to get these guys signed,” said Burns. “We obviously drafted them hoping that they were going to play for us. Now we have to see if we can get the deals done.
“[Head coach Jay Heaps] and I went into this with a mindset that we were hoping that some players we liked were going to be available,” Burns added. “We feel pretty good about being able to select three players. We think that’s a step in the right direction. The next step is obviously to try to get all three of these guys signed. But we’re pleased with our three selections, for sure.”