PHILADELPHIA – There’s little question that the dynamics of the MLS SuperDraft have changed in recent years. With each passing season, more and more top-level talent rises through the Homegrown program to sign directly with local clubs and forego the draft process. It’s a trend which will continue well into the future.
The result, of course, is a slightly diluted draft field as Homegrown players who would’ve been attractive to many clubs – take for instance, Scott Caldwell – are no longer available. By design, this move towards a far-reaching youth system has put an emphasis on developing local talent from a young age.
But contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t mean the MLS SuperDraft is no longer relevant.
“I think the draft will always be relevant to a certain level,” said Revolution General Manager Michael Burns. “I absolutely agree that it has changed a little bit over the last few years with the number of Homegrown player signings. I think that trend will continue. But I do also feel that the draft is relevant and will continue to have relevancy.”
Burns pointed to the case of Andrew Farrell, who the Revs snapped up with the first overall pick at last year’s SuperDraft. After a standout three-year career at the University of Louisville, Farrell was an immediate contributor at right back in his rookie year with the Revolution, starting every game for which he was available through both the regular season and the playoffs. The 21-year-old garnered rookie of the year consideration and was considered by some a snub for Jurgen Klinsmann’s current U.S. Men’s National Team camp.
“He’s not a Homegrown player, wasn’t a Homegrown player, and had a very good rookie year for us,” Burns said. “That will continue. You will always have players, in my opinion, that come through the Combine and draft that are going to make impacts at the MLS level.”
While Burns cautioned against putting too many expectations on rookies, Homegrown or otherwise – “It’s hard to look at any college player as coming in and being a 34-game starter and playing every minute of every game (immediately),” he said – other recent examples bolster the point. Four players who started both of the Revolution’s playoff matches last season – Farrell, Darrius Barnes, Kelyn Rowe and A.J. Soares – were selected by the Revs in recent SuperDrafts.
This year’s SuperDraft will take place in two parts; the first and second rounds will take place on Thursday afternoon at the Philadelphia Convention Center, while the third and fourth rounds will take place via conference call next Tuesday. Currently the Revs hold three first-round picks (fourth, 12th and 19th overall), plus additional selections in the second (31st overall) and third (50th overall) rounds.
Only the future will reveal if the Revs find a contributor. But there’s no question, there’s talent to be found.