FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Monday morning’s trade with the Columbus Crew which brought the fourth overall pick in this week’s MLS SuperDraft and an undisclosed amount of allocation money to the New England Revolution in exchange for the rights to defender Michael Parkhurst was the result of thoughtful and careful analysis.
Parkhurst’s potential return to MLS – after five years in Europe – was brought to the Revolution’s attention about one month ago in mid-December. Because Parkhurst had joined Danish club FC Nordsjælland on a free transfer upon leaving the Revs in 2008, they held his right of first refusal within the league.
New England’s technical staff carefully weighed the possibility of adding the versatile defender, but ultimately decided his hefty compensation would’ve created a strain on the club’s salary budget as the Revolution focuses on making key additions in the attacking third of the field.
“It was not a decision that was made lightly. There was a lot of discussion internally,” said General Manager Michael Burns, currently attending the MLS Player Combine in Lauderhill, Fla. “Had Michael returned to New England now, with the current roster composition of our team as it stands today, it would’ve significantly impacted our ability to do anything moving forward, certainly this year and probably for next year, as well.”
Burns said the Revs value Parkhurst highly for his contributions to the club during a stint in New England from 2005-08, but noted that the timing of his return to MLS played a factor in the decision to deal his rights. In 2014 the Revs will return the bulk of their defensive corps, which boasted the third-best goals against average in the league last season and established a club record with 14 shutouts. That group includes 2013 MLS Defender of the Year Jose Goncalves, secured on a permanent deal in November.
Meanwhile, the Revs are working to improve an attack which scored the third-most goals in the Eastern Conference last season, but lost influential young striker Juan Agudelo as he pursues a future in Europe. Early-season cover for the injured Saer Sene (broken left fibula/dislocated left ankle) is also a factor as the Frenchman continues his recovery into preseason.
“We’ve already said we’re trying to go out and add some attacking pieces and look in some other areas of the field,” said Burns. “With our ability to retain all of our defenders from last year, we feel it allowed us to make this move to hopefully strengthen the team in some other areas, as well.”
The allocation money acquired from Columbus will prove valuable as the Revolution aims to bolster its attack, with Burns noting that the Revs will have multiple international players joining them for training during their first preseason trip to Bradenton, Fla.
The fourth overall SuperDraft pick, meanwhile, could hold a different type of value. New England now holds three first-round picks (fourth, 12th and 19th overall) and the club has already had inquiries about the fourth overall selection, putting the Revs in position to weigh the value of selecting a player or dealing the pick.
“We’ve been in discussions already; there’s been some interest in [the fourth overall pick], so there’s no guarantee we’re going to keep it,” said Burns. “But if we do, we certainly feel that there’s enough quality here at the Combine. Any year you can have a high draft pick, you feel like it’s certainly advantageous to you.”