FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Expansion Drafts have not been kind to the New England Revolution in recent years.
In 2014, New York City FC snapped up both Patrick Mullins and Tony Taylor just days after the Revs had appeared in MLS Cup. On Tuesday, promising forward Femi Hollinger-Janzen was selected by Minnesota United FC after becoming a Revolution fan favorite with an energetic rookie season.
In all three instances the Revs lost a talented young attacking piece, and while General Manager Michael Burns understands the importance of expansion for the growth of the league, he can’t help but feel a bit of frustration as New England’s depth has been continuously raided.
“Our job is to try to continue to build a roster, and with expansion, that makes it a little more challenging, a little more difficult, because we continually lose people in the Expansion Draft who we otherwise wouldn’t want (to lose),” Burns said. “But that’s the reality of the league we’re in right now with expansion.”
New England’s loss of three players in the last two rounds of expansion – the maximum allowed by league rules – highlights the depth of the roster the Revs have built.
When the Portland Timbers (2011), Vancouver Whitecaps (2011) and Montreal Impact (2012) came into the league as expansion sides, the Revs had zero players selected. But as the roster has developed around a core of contributors, New England’s depth has become more attractive to competitors.
“The last two rounds of expansion, I think we’ve felt that,” Burns said. “The last go-round was Patrick and Tony and this time it’s Femi. And we’ll be going through it again next year (when Los Angeles FC enter the league ahead of the 2018 season).
“You’re trying to continually build as deep and as talented a roster as you can, knowing in the back of your mind that you’re going to potentially lose players. It makes it challenging, but it is what it is.”
With the Expansion Draft complete, the Revs must now continue to focus on improving their roster with 2017 preseason set to kick off in less than six weeks. Recent trips to Europe, South America and the Middle East have kept New England’s technical staff busy, and the Re-Entry Draft offers another player acquisition mechanism with Stage 1 (Friday, Dec. 16) and Stage 2 (Thursday, Dec. 22) upcoming.
Meanwhile, Femi will look to settle into his new home in Minnesota after breaking onto the professional scene with a memorable rookie season in New England.
“We have tough decisions to make on our roster in terms of expansion and protection, but we wish him well,” Burns said. “He’s a good person, a good player, and he served our team well.”