FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Last year’s deep playoff run to the Eastern Conference Final meant the New England Revolution were spectators for the first two hours of Thursday afternoon’s SuperDraft presented by adidas, waiting until the 24th pick before making their first selection. But when they finally made that selection, they snagged a talent projected by many to go much earlier in Round One.
Edward Kizza, who bagged a remarkable 31 goals in a three-year career at the University of Pittsburgh – including 27 goals in 38 appearances over his final two seasons – was widely considered one of the best attacking talents in the draft class, so the Revs were thrilled to see him still on the board at pick No. 24.
“He’s a very good player,” Revolution sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena said of Kizza, who graduated this past December and will join the Revs for preseason. “We feel very fortunate that we got him as late as we did in the first round, so I think maybe we got a little bit of luck with this draft pick.”
In addition to being “a proven goal scorer at the collegiate level,” Arena said that Kizza – who registers at 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds – is a strong player who plays as a number nine.
“He has a history of scoring goals, and we think that’s an area where we could use some help, for sure,” said Arena. “As does any team.”
Arena noted that New England entered the day hoping to add depth at both forward and center back, and after addressing the former with Kizza, they hit the latter with their Round Two pick, selecting Manhattan College center back Francois Dulysse at 51st overall.
Dulysse, a dual citizen and member of the U-23 Haitian Olympic Team player pool who Arena called “a very athletic center back,” signed a USL League One contract with Revolution II back on December 9, meaning Thursday’s selection keeps him in the Revolution organization and secures his MLS rights.
“We were able to scout him earlier in the year, and he got high marks,” Arena said. “Unfortunately his school did not participate this Fall, so he did not play, but we saw him in training with his Haitian team and we feel that he has potential, and certainly we look forward to having him into preseason, as well.”
While it’s increasingly rare for SuperDraft picks to make an immediate impact at the MLS level, New England need only point to last year’s selection of Henry Kessler – who made 26 appearances as a rookie and is currently in camp with the USYNT U-23s – for evidence that it can be done.
“I think when we drafted last year, we didn’t anticipate that our draft picks would offer immediate help to our team, and Henry Kessler surprised us,” Arena said. “I wouldn’t rule that out this year. We think our two picks are good fits for our roster.”
The Revs opted to pass with their Round Three selection (78th overall) on Thursday, but that doesn’t mean they’re done building their roster. Prior to the SuperDraft the Revs had already made five additions to the 2021 squad – Emmanuel Boateng, A.J. DeLaGarza, Earl Edwards Jr., Wilfrid Kaptoum, and Christian Mafla – and Arena said they believe one more will be on the way prior to the season.
“I’m hopeful that we did a good job [scouting for talent],” said Arena, noting the difficult circumstances presented by the pandemic. “We think that Kaptoum and Mafla are going to be real good additions to our roster. We also think that we’ll probably sign another player before we start the regular season, and we have a complement of domestic players in DeLaGarza, Boateng, and Edwards that we’ve added to our roster.
“The other part that I find to be pretty exciting is now we enter – it’s kind of year three with this coaching staff, but it’s really we’re entering the second year. The first year was pretty short when we came in late. We fully know our players, they know us. They should be getting better. Our team should be growing. We played a lot of young players in 2020, and we think when they step on the field in 2021, they should be better players. So we’re optimistic that we have a stronger roster this year, and hopefully that means that we’re going to get better results.”