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Revolution's first picks about offense, creativity

Posted by Julian Cardillo  January 16, 2014 04:33 PM

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(Revolution Communiciations)

Last season, the Revolution developed the identity of a young, creative team that was fun to watch in the attack. On Thursday at the 2014 MLS Superdraft in Philadelphia, Head Coach Jay Heaps built upon his team’s new identity by snapping up three of the best offensive and midfield college products in Steve Neumann, Patrick Mullins, and Alec Sundly.

“Every team prepares their draft boards and when we looked at ours, I don’t think we envisioned both [Neumann] and [Mullins] being available to us when we just held the number 12 pick,” said Revolution General Manager Mike Burns. “But when they ended up being available, we thought it was too good of an opportunity to pass up and drafted them,” Burns said.

The Revolution drafted Steve Neumann, who can play at either midfield or forward, with the fourth overall pick out of Georgetown University. Neumann, 22, was the most creative offensive players available at the draft. He is expected to pair well with one of the youngest, but most exceptionally talented attacking cores in the country.

“With guys like Kelyn Rowe and [Diego] Fagundez, I know they like to play soccer,” Neumann told reporters via conference call. “I think it’s going to be a joy to join them.”
The draft began with Philadelphia trading DC United for the number one pick.

Philadelphia selected Andre Blake, the best goalkeeper available, out of the University of Connecticut. DC followed up by selecting defender Steve Birnbaum (California) followed by Vancouver, who selected Christian Dean (California) with the third pick.

Next came Neumann, who immediately remembered his positive interview with Heaps and the Revolution coaching staff when his name was called. When scouting new players, Heaps places a great deal of consideration on their behavior and character. He wants to get to know their skill on the field as well as their tendencies off the field in order to judge whether or not they will have a good impact on team chemistry.

Neumann appears to fit the bill for the Revolution. With Juan Agudelo and Chad Barrett gone and a midfield that needs deepening, Neumann’s skills as a playmaker make him a potential perfect fit with the Revolution. Though the New Hope, Penn. native told numerous outlets in Philadelphia that he would love to be drafted by his hometown Union, he has no qualms about moving to New England.

“I know the Revs had a lot of young guys producing on the field this past year and that’s something that I’m aspiring to, to come in and make an impact right away and I think it’s going to be fun to play alongside (Diego) Fagundez and (Kelyn) Rowe and all those guys and I think the attack will definitely get better with me and Pat (Mullins) joining the front line,” Neumann said via conference call.

“I’m just excited to get going and work as hard as I possibly can to make the lineups and then start producing for the Revs.”

Though the Revolution drafted a capable player in Neumann with their first pick, it was a move few expected. Almost all the soccer pundits were expecting Patrick Mullins to be a top-five pick; most of them thought he would go to the Revolution with the fourth overall pick.

The Revolution had to trade their natural 12th overall pick and their 19th overall pick to Colorado for their 11th overall pick to draft Mullins. By that point in the draft, it was unexpected that Mullins would still be available.

"I think my motivation going into camp is to just be the best player I can be for the Revolution," said Mullins when asked whether or not he'd have a chip on his shoulder from not being drafted earlier.

"Crazy things happen on draft day and you can’t control what happens. You just want to land in the best fit possible and I think I really did that by coming to New England and I’m just excited to get to work like Steve is."

That’s because Mullins seems to be one of the few collegiate players that looks MLS-ready. He is a two-time Hermann Trophy winner out of the University of Maryland (the same alma mater of Revolution all-time leading scorer Taylor Twellman). Needless to say, the Revolution are aware that quality players can come out of Maryland. And Mullins looks quality. In 2013, he notched 19 goals and eight assists.

While those numbers probably won’t translate to MLS, the fact that the Revolution have signed a pure goal scorer is key. He is a sniper in the penalty area and with the right service and midfield play, which the Revolution ought to have down pat once the season begins on March 8, he’ll be another weapon in Heaps’ arsenal.

"They’re both players that we followed and we’ve had an eye on for not just one year but a couple years," said Heaps. "I’ve seen them play live a lot and I think they’re very different players. I think Patrick has shown he’s someone that can score a lot of goals and plays a little higher up the field. I think Steve is more of an underneath guy and a little more versatile as to where we can play him in our midfield."

The Revolution’s third and final pick on Thursday came in the second round (31st overall) which they used to snatch Alec Sundly, a defensive midfielder, from the University of California-Berkeley. If Sundly sticks to his position in MLS, he will contend for starting minutes with Scott Caldwell and Andy Dorman. But unlike Dorman and Caldwell, Sundly seems confident when joining the attack. He posted nine goals and two assists last season with Cal.

“In second round with [Sundly], we feel like we had a little bit of a steal there,” Burns said. “He wasn’t at the MLS Combine, which probably hurt him a little bit, but we’ve seen him play and heard a lot of good things about him, so we’re looking forward to getting him into camp, too.”

Other players who got drafted out of New England colleges include Damien Lowe (Hartford) and Mamadou Diouf (Connecticut).

The Revolution will have one pick in round three (50th overall). Round three will take place next Tuesday.

If you want to reach Julian email him at julianccardillo@gmail.com and follow him on twitter @juliancardillo

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About Corner Kicks: Julian Cardillo offers insight and analysis about the New England Revolution as well as European and international soccer.

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