By Kevin Koczwara
The New England Revolution has been quiet for a large portion of the Major League Soccer offseason. The team has been doing more cutting than adding since the end to the dismal 2011 season. But ahead of this week’s MLS 2012 SuperDraft, the Revolution went out and made a surprise move. A move that should help the team in the upcoming draft.
On Tuesday, January 9, the Revolution announced the signing of two Colombian players from América de Cali. The signing of defender John Lozano, 27, and attacking player Fernando Cárdenas, 23, came quickly and quietly, flying under the radar as most of the media attention was focused on Thierry Henry, Landon Donovan, and Robbie Keane’s loan moves. The move also came at the right time for the Revolution: just before the MLS SuperDraft.
The Revolution hold the third pick in the draft this year, and with a good selection of attacking players available, the Revolution have options to try and kick start its floundering attack. But rookies aren’t the kind of players you want to try and build around. They should be integral parts to the team who come into a side and add something extra. So, instead of relying on the draft to solve any problems, New England secured an attacking player before the draft with experience and flexibility. The signing of Cárdenas gives the team the option to move the pick out of the first three and get something in return — maybe another pick, some allocation money, another international roster spot, or a proven MLS player — because no longer is it forced into using the pick to make an instant impact type of player. The pick is still of great importance, but no longer are the Revolution pigeonholed into drafting one of the highly touted attacking players.
New England has the luxury of knowing it made a move before the draft for a young, versatile, and proven professional. Cárdenas may not have a lot of goals to his name or a lot of transfer speculation, but he has played 84 games professionally in a top-division. That is 84 more games than any of the Generation Adidas players available. The signing gives the Revolution some assurance that ahead of the draft they have one player they should be able to count on.
The signing of Lozano gives the Revolution another center back on the depth chart — A.J. Soares and Darrius Barnes are the other two. Lozano played 68 times in Colombia for his club. He adds some competition for the center back spot and another proven body to the team’s roster.
Lozano provides the Revs some wiggle room ahead of the draft short on highly touted defenders. No longer are the Revolution thin at every defensive position. Instead, the Revolution are looking for a left back — something just about every team is looking for — and a player who can back up Kevin Alston at right back.
By making the moves ahead of the draft, the Revolution put other teams on notice that it wasn’t sitting around waiting for things to happen. Instead, New England is out hunting for pieces to add to a messy puzzle. Yes, the team still needs a proven forward. Yes, the Revolution still have question marks all over the roster. But, by doing business the week of the draft, and by filling two desperate needs, the Revolution set a precedent and made space for the team to explore other options. Now, if the Revolution have to hope they make another solid move like last year when it drafted A.J. Soares with the sixth pick in the draft.
Kevin Koczwara can be reached at email@example.com.