KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Thursday afternoon was a whirlwind for Tyler Polak, who was selected by the New England Revolution with the 22nd overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft. Within minutes of hearing his name called over the Kansas City Convention Center sound system, the 19-year-old was introduced to a throng of Revolution employees and thrust in front of bright lights and cameras for his first interviews as a professional soccer player.
The next few days are unlikely to provide much of a respite as Polak has this weekend to figure out the logistics of his move to Foxborough, where he’ll start preseason camp with the Revs on Monday.
“Monday comes quick and I’m excited to start,” said Polak. “It’s all pretty crazy; happening pretty fast. Not a whole lot of time to adjust, but I’m definitely ready. It should be a lot of fun. I’m ready to make the next step to the next level.”
Polak excelled at the previous level, twice earning NSCAA All-Midwest honors – in both his freshman and sophomore seasons – while starting 44 games at left back for Creighton University. In 2011, Polak was a critical part of the record-setting Bluejays backline which conceded just five goals all season en route to an appearance in the NCAA College Cup.
With left back a position the Revs had identified as an area of need this offseason, it was an easy decision for New England to scoop up Polak – a projected first-round pick in many circles – early in the second round.
“For Tyler, without putting too much expectation on him, he fills a need,” said Revolution General Manager Michael Burns. “Whether he’s starting or provides cover, we definitely feel like that’s going to help us and we’re excited about how today went.”
Polak was attractive to the Revs for a number of reasons, most notably his versatility as a two-way outside back and his status – like New England’s first-round pick, Kelyn Rowe – as a member of Generation adidas. The designation means both Polak and Rowe are automatically added to the Revolution’s roster and will not count against the club’s salary budget until they graduate from the program.
“Tyler had a great season at Creighton,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “He knows how to get forward, he knows how to defend and he’s good on the ball. We want players to keep the ball. We want good soccer players. We don’t want just one-dimensional players.”
“If we try to look at it somewhat objectively – and obviously I look at it more from a Revolution standpoint – but to have nine Generation adidas players signed and for us to get two of them in the top 22, we feel like it was a decent day,” added Burns.
While the starting left back job is up for grabs this preseason after both Darrius Barnes (center back) and Chris Tierney (left midfielder) played out of position to fill the spot in 2011, Polak understands it’s a job he’ll have to win with steady performances in the coming weeks, not one which will simply be handed to him on opening day.
“I’m going to work as hard as I can and if coach thinks I’m ready for the position, then I’m definitely going to step up and take it,” Polak said. “But I guess it’s up to the coach and my playing in preseason.”