Kick Off: Farrell goes to Revs as SuperDraft steals show
So where do we start?
OK, let’s all take a deep breath as we sift through what was likely the busiest day of the year so far in US domestic soccer.
The No. 1 draft pick at the 2013 MLS SuperDraft went to defender Andrew Farrell, with New England trading up to grab their manearlier in the week.
And Farrell was understandably delighted to go first.
“You never know until they call your name,” Farrell said. “I’m grateful for that. Obviously, there are a lot of top guys that are here. You just never know, so I’m excited for the opportunity to be in New England.”
The No. 1 pick was the first in Revs’ history as Jay Heaps snagged the towering defender from Louisville, who was touted as the top pick early on in proceedings.
“He carried that pressure well, and I think those are important things. Then he also backed it up with a solid Combine," Heaps told reporters. "When you’re asked to perform at the level he’s had to perform in the spotlight, I think that also shows a little bit of character.”
After Farrell, another Big East player went second, as the worst kept secret in MLS was out as Chivas USA selected playmaker Carlos Alvarez.
“El Chelís” had already let the cat of the bag during the Combine, and the UConn product Alvarez was overjoyed to be heading home to LA.
Next up at No. 3 came the MVP from the MLS Combine, Canadian Kyle Bekker, who also went to his hometown side Toronto FC. Out of Boston College, Bekker had a storming combine in the center of midfield and is pleased to be playing in Canada: “It’s an exciting time, it’s great to be home and I’m looking forward to playing in front of those great fans in Toronto.”
Meanwhile, Vancouver traded up in the draft to grab the No. 4 and No. 5 picks, opting for two of the quickest forward players available. Teenaged Generation adidas star Kekuta Manneh from Gambia went first, and Martin Rennie further stockpiled his pacey attack with jet-heeled winger Erik Hurtado.
‘Caps boss Rennie was very happy to get the guys he was after.
“Kekuta brings great pace out wide and is a natural goalscorer,” Rennie said. “He is a versatile player with a natural ability to play on the left or on the right, which isn’t easy to find. While Erik is powerful and quick, and holds the ball well under pressure and was a standout at the Combine. We are very excited that we were able to select Erik and Kekuta today.”
Here is our draft tracker of all 38 picks, inclduing bios, video reactions, highlights and features on each player selected.
And a recap of the top first round picks is available here.
MLSsoccer.com's Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle broke down the draft and graded each team’s selections. See how your side fared.
Some of the other big picks going down where Eriq Zavaleta ending up in Seattle, as the Sounders traded up to get the Indiana standout. Sigi Schmid revealed he wants to use Zavaleta primarily at center back.
New Mexico winger Blake Smith landed in Montreal, as the Impact solidified their midfield with the No. 8 pick.
Elsewhere, San Jose picked up Georgetown defender Tommy Muller. Check this Q&A with him at sjearthquakes.com.
Columbus grabbed Notre Dame’s 21-goal striker Ryan Finley with the ninth overall pick and Portland snagged defender Dylan Tucker-Gangnes from under the noses of Cascadia rivals Seattle.
A talented prospect that wasn’t drafted, but has signed a Homegrown deal with LA, made this statement at the Indiana Convention Center:
“In my eyes, I think I would’ve gone No. 1.” Find out who said that.
SuperDraft news dominated the day, obviously, but there was still plenty of other breaking news happening while the domestic soccer scene assembled inside the convention hall.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber was as busy as anyone, introducing the first-round picks and giving a rousing speech prior to the draft. He was also grilled on plenty of timely topics, with the Cascadia Cup trademark tussle top of the list.
“We have not done a good enough job communicating with the fans in the Pacific Northwest,” Garber said. “The goal is to have a trademark that’s managed, so that we – the league that has its teams playing in the Cascadia Cup – can ensure that that trademark is managed properly.”
Garber also addressed rumors surrounding an imminent MLS link up with the USL Pro to form a new reserve division.
"I can't confirm anything today, but what I will say is that our league is very supportive of building the soccer pyramid and having a closer relationship with the lower divisions," Garber told reporters. “We'll be able to talk about that further probably in the next couple weeks."
And some other big news came out of the SuperDraft halls, as Union boss John Hackworth confirmed that Fredy Adu wouldn’t be turning up for the beginning of preseason camp next week.
While LA boss Bruce Arena was cool as a cucumber all day long, however he did let something slip out about a potential DP arriving soon: “I wouldn't be surprised if over the next week or so, we're going to have some kind of decision we're going to make with a Designated Player."
Arena confirmed LA had spoken to both Kaká and Frank Lampard and also said he’s having talks with Landon Donovan this weekend about his future.
Sporting KC announced some massive news at the SuperDraft, as they signed the franchise's first-ever jersey sponsorship deal, worth a reported $2.5 million per season. Kansas City-based Ivy Funds will now adorn SKC shirts. Read more here.
Elsewhere some huge -- and not exactly unexpected -- news came out of Portland just minutes before the SuperDraft started, as reports began to surface that Scottish DP striker Kris Boyd had been cut from the Timbers roster.
Soccer By Ives takes up the story as the Rose City braces themselves for more moves, with Caleb Porter continuing to assemble his new look squad.
Elsewhere, reports out of Belgium regarding D.C. United loanee Andy Najar have popped up, with Anderlecht reportedly having a bid rejected by United for their prized academy product.
While a player touted to be heading to Europe in the not so distant future seems to have had a change of mind, as Omar Gonzalez hinted he’d be open to a contract extension with the LA Galaxy.
“We’ve both come to an understanding that as it gets closer to the end of the year maybe we’ll talk about that,” the MLS Cup 2012 MVP said. “But as of right now, there have been no talks. I’d definitely have to take a look at the contract.”
A player definitely staying in MLS is RSL’s legendary playmaker Javier Morales, as the Argentine re-signed with Salt Lake on Thursday.
The latest managerial news coming out of New York is that Claudio Reyna turned down a Red Bulls coaching position. Reyna is expected by many to become Paulo Sousa’s assistant, if and when the Red Bulls actually announce any coaching appointments.
Reyna was one of the first big American Exports to Europe, and see which current US stars are heading to Turkey in separate deals.
Talking of the USMNT, they are still working away in California at their January camp. and yesterday Jurgen Klinsmann spoke out about Mexico’s chances of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
Klinsi certainly isn’t ready to surrender to El Tri before qualifying has even begun.
“They are [No. 1 in the rankings] right now because they did well over the last couple of years,” Klinsmann said. “To have pole position for many people, that's totally fine for us. But at the end of the day, when we play them, we want to beat them.”
Across the pond, there are plenty of EPL games (and snow) flying about this weekend. Liverpool vs. Norwich kick it off (10 am ET, Fox Soccer) then it’s Manchester City vs. Fulham (10 am ET, ESPN 2) before a midlands derby between West Brom and Aston Villa finishes (12:30 pm ET) Saturday’s action. And huge Super Sunday clashes between Chelsea and Arsenal (8:30 am ET, Fox Soccer) and Clint Dempsey’s Tottenham vs. Manchester United (10:30 am ET, Fox Soccer) will round off the weekend.
Breaking news this morning comes from EPL side Southampton -- who have lost just twice in their last 12 games -- as they fire manager Nigel Adkins and replace him with Argentine coach and former national team player Mauricio Pochettino.
And finally anybody out there celebrating you’re birthday today, many happy returns for MLSsoccer.com. You share this joyous day with Jason Segel, Kevin Costner, Julius Peppers and Pep Guardiola, to name but a few.
But I bet your Birthday cake won’t be anywhere near as awesome as the one Manchester City right back Pablo Zabaleta had designed for him. Pass the fork, please.
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