After a 2011 campaign that saw its attack shut out 10 times and its defense victimized for 58 goals, the Revolution addressed two obvious needs by selecting UCLA midfielder Kelyn Rowe (third overall) and Creighton defender Tyler Polak (second round, 22nd overall) in Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft.
Rowe is a technically-talented 20-year-old creative midfielder whose six goals and 10 assists helped steer the Bruins to a semifinal run during last year’s NCAA tournament. During his two seasons at UCLA, the 5-8, 150 lbs. playmaker totaled 13 goals and 20 assists and was named Pac-12 Conference Player of the Year in 2011.
Polak is a 19-year-old left back who also helped his team to a semifinal run in last year’s NCAA tournament. The 5-8, 150 lbs. defender, who scored a goal and added five assists for the Bluejays last year, was part of a Creighton back line that allowed only five goals in 24 games and kept their opponents off the board 19 times in 2011.
The addition of Rowe, a member of the 2012 Generation adidas class, should give the Revolution attack the creativity and ideas it desperately needed last season. Even with Shalrie Joseph and Benny Feilhaber on the field, the team had to rely on set pieces and route one ball to get the ball into the back of the net.
With Joseph and Feilhaber locked in as the team’s starting central midfielders, Rowe, a classic number 10-type player, will likely find the majority of his minutes out on the wings or in the withdrawn forward spot. Even so, one thing head coach Jay Heaps raved about Rowe during the draft was his first-rounder’s versatility, which will certainly earn the former Bruin more opportunities to crack the starting lineup in 2012.
Polak, another member of this year’s Generation adidas class, gives the Revolution something they lacked all last season: a true left back. After fellow Creighton left back Seth Sinovic was waived last March, the team used left-sided midfielder Chris Tierney and center back Darrius Barnes to hold down the left back spot -- with varying degrees of success.
Though the Revolution drafted Danleigh Borman in last month’s Re-Entry Draft, he remains unsigned, leaving Polak the only pure left-sided wingback on the roster. Given the Revolution’s propensity to play its rookie defenders right from the start (see: Barnes, Sinovic, Kevin Alston and A.J. Soares), it wouldn’t be a stretch to see Polak earn a spot in the First Kick starting eleven.
One of the underlying benefits of adding the Generation adidas duo is that neither player’s salary will count against the team’s salary cap, thus leaving enough room open to address another pressing need: its forward corps.
With only one pure striker on the roster (Zack Schilawski), the additions of Rowe and Polak could have been exactly what the Revolution had in mind going into Thursday’s draft: selecting two talented players who not only give the Revs depth in the back and creativity in the middle, but also leave the team requisite wiggle room to go out and sign a high-priced, internationally-based striker.