By Ryan Fleming
To the surprise and absolute relief of New England Revolution’s supporters, the team announced today that for the first time in the club’s history it has signed a Designated Player. Milton Caraglio, an Argentine, is the man in Foxborough now – aside from Vice President of Player Personnel Mike Burns, the man the with heaviest weight on his shoulders.
Not only does Caraglio get paid DP money, he also gets all the pressure applied to a DP in the MLS. Now, it might seem like if the 22-year old would go to, say, New York, he might have more pressure on him, but give me a second to change your mind.
The Revolution are a starved franchise. Reaching the finals four times, and losing all four, in its 16 years of existence. Kinda reminds you of the Boston Red Sox pre-2004, eh? Yes. This year the Revs have one of the worst records in the MLS and until recently were perhaps the laughing stock of the league. With Shalrie Joseph, Benny Feilhaber and a hardworking defense, the Revs have performed better in the last three weeks of the season, earning five points from a total of nine, but were in position to win all three of those games. With the arrival of Caraglio, the forward will be relied on immediately to provide the Revs with a sort of firepower that the team has lacked since the retirement of Taylor Twellman.
New England is utterly desperate.
Desperate to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009 and desperate to put butts in the seats.
But, like everything Revolution related, it comes with a huge question mark. Caraglio comes with some baggage. A history of knee problems kept him from passing his trial at West Ham last year. Did I mention he has had weight issues? Sounds like a bargain, no?
I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be too pessimistic, but for the first DP in the team’s history, the Revs could and should have splashed out a bit more. I hear Joey Barton is available on a free transfer. That would have been good too.
Let’s look at the positives.
Caraglio is only 22. That gives the Revs a bunch of time to mold and sculpt him to how they want. The Revs didn’t exactly get what they wanted in ZackSchilawski in last year’s draft and they sure didn’t get the output they were looking for when they rolled the dice on Danish forward Rajko Lekic. Perhaps Burns and Nicol saw something in Caraglio that will bring all these dismayed, frustrated and sullen supporters smiles instead of frowns. Perhaps West Ham did the right thing on letting him go and just maybe Nicol and the Revolution upstairs did something right.
But for only scoring 11 goals in 49 appearances for his hometown side Rosario Central and bringing a player with a history of knee injuries to a turf-fielded Gillette Stadium, this bright news really has a dark cloud over it. It’s too bad Revolution supporters are used to that.
Ryan Fleming can be reached at Ryan.Fleming@thesoccerguysonline.com.