By Kevin Koczwara
Baltimore, MD. — The New England Revolution select defender A.J. Soares from the University of California with the 5th pick in Major League Soccer’s 2011 SuperDraft. With 77 total caps for Cal, the 6 ft. defender gives the Revolution another center back to work with to improve one of the worst defenses in the MLS.
Soares hadn’t been contacted by the Revs before the selection, but he had a feeling that Steve Nicol and the Revolution would come calling when the fifth pick came up.
“My gut told me there is where I’d get picked. I didn’t speak to the staff until just now, but I kind of had a feeling they’d pick me there,” says Soares. “I think they have confidence in me and I have confidence in the staff.”
Soares should feel comfortable playing for Nicol and the Revolution. Nicol, a former Liverpool FC defender during the club’s best days, has helped develop and nurture some top defending talent. The former Surf Club player will have an opportunity to learn from Nicol and the rest of New England’s staff.
“I’m going to learn from him [Steve Nicol] and the rest of the staff, and even the players. They have so many great players on that team, and it’s definitely a place I’m going to get much better,” said Soares.
Soares didn’t move into the center back role until his first game at Cal. He was tossed in before his first game with the Golden Bears despite playing as an attacking midfielder up until that point.
“I was always an attacking midfielder, which has helped me as a center back in terms of skill and all that and being comfortable on the ball,” says Soares.
The youngest of six, Soares is excited to be playing in New England because of the great sporting culture that surrounds the area.
“It’s a great sporting region. You got great teams there,” says Soares. “It’s a place you want to be an athlete.”
Kevin Koczwara can be reached at Kevin.Koczwara@thesoccerguysonline.com.