FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It’s been 10 years since the New England Revolution selected as high as third overall in Major League Soccer’s college draft. Back in 2002, the Revs held the second overall selection and scooped up a player named Taylor Twellman, and all he did was go on to score a club-record 101 goals in 174 regular-season appearances.
The Revs also grabbed current club captain and Designated Player Shalrie Joseph in the second round (14th overall) of that draft, so they did alright.
With the 2012 MLS SuperDraft set to take place in just a few days on Thursday, Jan. 12 at the Kansas City Convention Center, anticipation is mounting as the Revs hold the third overall selection. As speculation runs rampant as to which player the Revolution should grab with the third pick, let’s take a look back at all the previous third overall picks in MLS history …
Brandon Pollard (Dallas Burn)
The first-ever third overall pick in MLS college draft history, Pollard was selected after Matt McKeon (Kansas City Wiz) and Eddie Pope (D.C. United), two players who went on to have memorable MLS careers. Pollard appeared to be on a similar path as the rugged defender made more than 100 appearances for Dallas from 1996-2000 and was a member of the U.S. side at the 1996 Olympics, but a crushing tackle from the Chicago Fire’s Dema Kovalenko during a 1999 playoff game resulted in a severely broken leg. Unfortunately, Pollard was never able to regain his pre-injury form and retired prior to the 2001 season.
Rob Jachym (Columbus Crew)
Revolution fans might recognize Jachym from his brief spell in New England from 1997-98, although in truth the former third overall pick spent most of that spell on loan and made just six appearances with the Revs. Originally drafted by Columbus, Jachym made only three appearances with the Crew before being released and subsequently signed by the Revs, and the Poland native spent the latter years of his career in the lower divisions and retired in 2004.
Ben Parry (San Jose Clash)
Undoubtedly the least successful of all third overall picks, Parry spent most of his time in San Jose nursing an injury and was waived in June, just four months after being drafted out of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Parry had brief spells in the lower divisions with the Charleston Battery, Raleigh Capital Express and Charlotte Eagles before ending his playing career in 2001.
Richard Mulrooney (San Jose Clash)
After missing badly with the Parry pick in 1998, the Clash struck gold the following year with the selection of Mulrooney. The former Creighton Bluejay started 25 games his rookie year and eventually made more than 170 appearances in San Jose before finishing his career with stints at FC Dallas (2005-06), Toronto FC (2007) and Houston Dynamo (2007-10). All told, Mulrooney made almost 300 appearances in Major League Soccer, won three MLS Cups and earned 14 caps with the U.S. National Team.
Adin Brown (Colorado Rapids)
Another name which will be familiar to Revolution fans, Brown helped guide New England to its first MLS Cup appearance in 2002 and made more than 50 appearances for the Revs from 2002-04. But Brown was originally drafted by the Colorado Rapids and spent a brief spell in Tampa Bay before making his way to Foxborough. After a five-year stint in Norway with Aalesund, Brown returned to MLS with the Portland Timbers in 2011 but made just two appearances and subsequently had his option declined.
Mark Lisi (D.C. United)
A standout at Clemson University, Lisi was drafted by D.C. United with the third overall pick in 2001 and made 31 appearances for the club from 2001-02 before being traded to the MetroStars. It was in New York that Lisi established himself as a steady contributor, making 89 appearances from 2002-06 before retiring as a result of recurring injuries.
Brad Davis (MetroStars)
An MVP finalist after leading the league with 16 assists in 2011, Davis has been one of the top left-sided midfielders in Major League Soccer for the past decade. Drafted third overall by the MetroStars in 2002, Davis was a finalist for rookie of the year after scoring four goals in 24 appearances, but was subsequently traded to the Dallas Burn for the fourth overall pick in the 2003 draft. Davis spent two years in Dallas and was named the club’s MVP in 2003, but he was sent to the Earthquakes prior to the 2005 season. The rest is history, as Davis moved with the club from San Jose to Houston in 2006 and won a pair of MLS Cups in 2006 and 2007.
Nate Jaqua (Chicago Fire)
Currently in negotiations with the Revolution after the club selected him in Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Process this past December, Jaqua has scored 41 goals and added 29 assists in 197 MLS appearances with the Chicago Fire (2003-06), LA Galaxy (2007), Houston Dynamo (2007-08) and Seattle Sounders FC (2009-11). An All-Star in 2006 when the MLS side defeated Barclays Premier League giant Chelsea FC, 1-0, Jaqua has won one MLS Cup and five U.S. Open Cup titles, including three straight with Seattle the past three seasons.
Joseph Ngwenya (LA Galaxy)
Most notable in New England for the goal he scored for the Houston Dynamo against the Revs in MLS Cup 2007, Ngwenya was a third overall pick with the LA Galaxy in 2004. The Zimbabwean scored four goals in 40 appearances with LA from 2004-06 and has had subsequent spells in Columbus (2006-07), Houston (2007; 2010) and D.C. (2011), while he also spent time in Austria and Turkey. After failing to score in 16 appearances with D.C. in 2011, Ngwenya had his contract option declined.
Chad Barrett (Chicago Fire)
An MLS Cup winner in 2011 with the LA Galaxy – although he missed the final after suffering a dislocated ankle while training in the buildup – Barrett has scored 41 goals in 174 appearances with the Fire (2005-08), Toronto FC (2008-10) and Galaxy (2011). Drafted when he was just 19 years old, Barrett is still only 26, and will be best known to Revs fans for his time with the rival Fire, which came to an end in 2008 when he was traded to TFC as part of the deal which landed Brian McBride in Chicago.
Jason Garey (Columbus Crew)
After scoring a remarkable 22 goals in 25 games his senior year at the University of Maryland, Garey won the MAC Hermann Trophy and was subsequently selected third overall by the Crew in 2006. Primarily used in a substitute’s role in Columbus, Garey scored 15 goals in 83 appearances and was part of the Crew’s MLS Cup winning side in 2008. He was traded to the Houston Dynamo prior to the 2011 season and made 10 appearances for the MLS Cup finalists before having his contract option declined following the season.
Michael Harrington (Kansas City Wizards)
A contributor since day one after arriving in Kansas City, Harrington was a finalist for MLS rookie of the year after making 29 appearances (27 starts) and scoring three goals in 2007. Harrington has made more than 20 appearances in each year of his career, including starting all 30 games for Kansas City in 2008 and 29 games in 2010. Overall, Harrington has made 138 appearances for the recently rebranded Sporting KC and figures to be a key player again in 2012.
Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake)
Slightly undersized (5-foot-8) for a defender, Beltran played a career-high 1,860 minutes in 2009 as Real Salt Lake claimed its first-ever MLS Cup title. The former St. John’s University and UCLA standout has made 78 appearances (67 starts) in the first four years of his MLS career and made highlight reels around the globe in the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs against Seattle Sounders FC with a remarkable goal-line clearance on Jeff Parke’s volley. (Watch Beltran’s amazing save HERE.)
Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy)
Although recently set back by a torn ACL suffered while on loan at German Bundesliga side 1. FC Nuremberg, Gonzalez is undoubtedly one of the best players to come out of the draft in recent years. Picked after Steve Zakuani (Seattle Sounders FC) and Sam Cronin (Toronto FC), Gonzalez was the league’s rookie of the year in 2009, an All-Star in 2010 and MLS defender of the year in 2011, while also garnering MLS Best XI honors the past two years. An MLS Cup champion last season, Gonzalez projects to be one of the future center backs for the U.S. National Team.
Ike Opara (San Jose Earthquakes)
Beset by injuries throughout his first two years in the league, Opara has made just 19 appearances with San Jose since being drafted third overall out of Wake Forest University, but has managed to score three goals from his defensive position. Despite limited action in 2010 and 2011, Opara is still viewed as one of the top young defenders in the league should he overcome lingering injury issues.
Perry Kitchen (D.C. United)
While too difficult to judge entirely following just one season in the league, Kitchen was viewed as the steal of the draft when he slipped to D.C. United at third overall last year. Many had projected Kitchen as the top overall pick upon leaving Akron after just one season, but Omar Salgado (Vancouver Whitecaps FC) and Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers) were selected first and second, respectively, allowing United to grab him third. A finalist for the league’s rookie of the year award, Kitchen became the first rookie in D.C. history to lead the team in minutes played (2,726) and looks to be a surefire starter for years to come.