New England Trades Up to Nab Louisville’s Andrew Farrell with First Pick in MLS SuperDraft

2013 MLS SuperDraft Presented By Adidas

Louisville and Georgetown—two schools more commonly known for their basketball programs than for soccer—featured prominently in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft as the Cardinals and Hoyas each had three former players selected in Indidanapolis yesterday.

Louisville defender Andrew Farrell (above left) was the No. 1 pick, going to the New England Revolution, which traded up to get him, swapping the No. 4 selection and allocation money to Toronto FC for the first draft position.

Farrell, 20, was born in Kentucky but moved to Peru with his parents, who are missionaries, for 10 years of his childhood. He returned in his teen years and played at Atherton High School in Louisville before joining the recently ascendant Cardinals program.

He’s an athletic defender with decent feet who can play center back or outside back. He also played in midfield for much of his senior season at Louisville. In his junior year, Farrell was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year, and he was a first-team All-America and Hermann Trophy semifinalist this past season.

Louisville, which reached the final eight of the 2012 NCAA tournament, had two other players selected as midfielder Paolo DelPiccolo went in the second round (27th overall) to Montreal, and defender Greg Cochrane went 38th to Los Angeles. The Cardinals had four players picked in last year’s draft, including MLS Rookie of the Year contenders Nick DeLeon (DC United) and Austin Berry (Chicago).

The Cardinals’ Big East rival Georgetown, which reached the 2012 NCAA final, narrowly losing to Indiana, had a first-round selection in defender Tommy Muller, who went to San Jose with the 15th pick, and two second-rounders in midfielder Ian Christianson (New York, No. 22), and defender Jimmy Nealis (Houston, 37).

After New England selected Farrell, Chivas USA chose Connecticut midfielder Carlos Alvarez at No. 2 (as they said they would), and Toronto FC used the third pick on Boston College midfielder Kyle Bekker, a Canadian U-23 international who showed very well at the MLS Combine in Florida before the draft.

The star-crossed TFC, which has never made the MLS playoffs, did pretty well for itself in the draft, with ex-DC United exec Kevin Payne leading the way. The Reds traded two picks to haul in valuable allocation money, and they got two promising young Canadian players in Bekker and the speedy, versatile Emery Welshman, who can play outside back or striker. As a senior at Oregon State, Welshman (who’s Canadian, despite the surname), bagged 10 goals and four assists.

Other notable developments on Draft Day:

• Vancouver worked a deal with Toronto to obtain the No. 4 pick, which they used to select 18-year-old Gambia native Kekuta Manneh, a speedburner with tremendous upside potential, as Hubie Brown would say. Manneh scored 12 goals in 13 appearances for fourth-tier side Austin Aztex last season. The Whitecaps also added Santa Clara striker Erik Hurtado, another speedster, with the fifth pick.

• Seattle landed well-regarded Indiana striker Eriq Zavaleta, unexpectedly available at No. 10. The former Hoosier can also play defender, and the Sounders plan to use him as a center back, in the wake of Jeff Parke’s departure to Philly.

• The Colorado Rapids had a banner day, signing 22-year-old Chilean international winger Kevin Harbottle (he’s Chilean, honest) before nabbing Jamaican striker Deshorn Brown (University of Central Florida, No. 6 overall), Notre Dame midfielder Dillon Powers (No. 11), and super-athletic Cal-St Bakersfield left back Kory Kindle (No. 25) in the SuperDraft.

The day before the draft, the Rapids traded midfielder Jeff Larentowicz to Chicago for the 11th pick, allocation money, and a 2013 international slot. Larentowicz is the third prominent Rapids player to depart this offseason, following Conor Casey (Philadelphia) and Omar Cummings (Houston).

• Furman defender Walker Zimmerman, a highly touted US youth international projected as a Top 3 pick by most observers, fell to No. 7, where he was picked up by FC Dallas.

Mikey Lopez, a defensive midfielder from UNC who was tabbed as a cinch for the Top 10, fell to 14, where he was happily collected by Sporting Kansas City.

MLS Had Itself Quite an Entertaining Wednesday

There was a highlight-filled, eight-goal thriller in San Jose, another goal for EJ and a 35-yard golazo from Fredy Montero in Seattle, and a solid bounce-back in New England.

First, the San Jose–DC United carnival of soccer fun, which went to the Quakes 5-3, and included Dwayne De Rosario’s curling one-timer, his spectacular bicycle kick that was saved—even more spectacularly—by Jon Busch, his devastating late assist to Hamdi Salihi, and Daniel Woolard’s diving header.

That was just from the losing team. The winners got two goals apiece from Big Bird, aka Steven Lenhart, and league scoring leader Chris Wondolowski; some slick work from speedy winger Marvin Chavez, and a sweet passing sequence in the DC box to set up Wondo’s first goal.


In Seattle, the Sounders blanked a second-choice Los Angeles side 2-0 behind Fredy Montero’s magical 48th-minute strike.

Take a look:

In Foxboro, the up-and-down Revolution rediscovered their goal-scoring touch to rally from a 1-0 deficit and defeat Colorado 2-1 behind a pair of fine goals from Saer Sene and first-time starter Fernando Cardenas.


Not a bad night. The league will try to top it when this round of play resumes on Friday night, with Chivas USA taking on Chicago. Week 9 continues through the weekend, with seven games on Saturday and one on Sunday.

Revolution Tab Jay Heaps as Next Coach

In somewhat of a surprise move, the New England Revolution have reportedly hired former Revs defender Jay Heaps to replace Steve Nicol as head coach of the team.

Heaps, 35, retired as a player in 2009 and spent the past season as the color commentator for the Revolution’s local TV broadcasts. He has no coaching experience.

He does have a 10-year MLS career under his belt, during which he set the club record for appearances (294), scored 17 goals from his right back position, and earned four caps for the U.S. national team.

Nicol was dismissed after the Revs finished tied for last in MLS with a 5-16-13 record.

Heaps joins a recent crop of former players who’ve become coaches in MLS, including Ben Olsen (DC United), Peter Vermes (Sporting Kansas City), Frank Klopas (Chicago Fire), and Jesse Marsch (Montreal Impact), among others.

The hyper-athletic Heaps was a striker at Duke University (where he also played basketball, as a walk-on), but was converted to outside back in the pros.

He went to NCAA Final Fours with both the basketball and soccer teams at Duke.

Philadelphia 4, New England 4: Revs Collapse Like Cartoon Soufflé

New England took a 3-0 lead on Philadelphia after 25 minutes last night at PPL Park—and a 4-1 lead into the halftime break. But as they demonstrated in coughing up a two-goal second-half advantage over New York last month, no lead is safe with the 2011 Revolution.

After the Union’s Freddy Adu scored his first MLS goal since 2007 to make it 4-2 in the 54th minute, you started to get a certain feeling….

Sure enough, Sebastien Le Toux buried a penalty in the 80th minute and then, two minutes into stoppage time, struck a fantastic equalizer to make it 4-4.

This game was a crazy-quilt of highlights and errors.

In addition to his goal, Adu completed 93% of his passes (according to Opta Sports), new Revs signing and potential Name Hall of Famer Moncef Zerka opened his MLS account with a skillful header, Benny Feilhaber and Roger Torres scored sweet goals from just outside the box, and the Revs’ defense, as ESPN commentator Adrian Healey tweeted, was bagel soft.

Beyond all that—and unfortunately not included in the highlights below—both teams created golden chances to win it deep into stoppage time, after Le Toux’s equalizer, but neither could finish.

Here’s the clip:

It was an incredible fight-back by Philly, but they are still winless in seven games, with a big one coming up on Saturday against playoff contenders Portland. New England, whose playoff hopes are all but gone, return home to host FC Dallas on Saturday night.

Hurricane Irene Forces MLS Schedule Changes

The DC United–Portland game scheduled for tomorrow evening was moved up from a 7:30 p.m. start to a 2:00 afternoon kickoff, and both of Sunday’s MLS matches, including the sold-out New York–Los Angeles match, were postponed to later dates as the league anticipated the arrival of Hurricane Irene along the Eastern seaboard.

Citing “general public safety concerns,” MLS made the following schedule changes (courtesy of

D.C. United vs. Portland Timbers (at RFK Stadium)
NOW: Saturday, Aug. 27 at 2:00 p.m. ET*
WAS: Saturday, Aug. 27 at 7:30 p.m. ET

*Major League Soccer, in collaboration with D.C. United and Portland Timbers, will continue to monitor the path of Hurricane Irene before making a final determination as to the status of the game between both clubs, originally scheduled for Saturday at 7:30pm ET at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

A further update on the status of this game will be provided by 12:00 p.m. ET tomorrow (Friday).

UPDATE: This game has now been postponed. Reschedule date is TBD.

Philadelphia Union vs. New England Revolution (at PPL Park)
NOW: Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 8:00 p.m. ET (Galavisión)
WAS: Sunday, Aug. 28 at 7:00 p.m. ET (Galavisión)

New York Red Bulls vs. LA Galaxy (at Red Bull Arena)
NOW: Tuesday, Oct. 4 at 8:00 p.m. ET (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes)
WAS: Sunday, Aug. 28 at 7:00 p.m. ET (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes)

MLS Roundup: Pavel Pardo, New Argentine DP, and Saborio’s Historic Suspension

While we wait for Jurgen Klinsmann to announce his first selection of players as coach of the U.S.—which is scheduled to happen tomorrow—let’s catch up on MLS news, of the off-field variety (for our wrap-up of the most recent on-field action, see here).

The biggest development of the past week was Chicago’s signing of Mexican international Pavel Pardo, a long-rumored acquisition that finally came to pass on July 26.

The deal is only for the remainder of the 2011 season, and Pardo was not signed as a Designated Player. Those two elements suggest that the Fire wants to see how much the 35-year-old midfielder has left in the tank; it could be a three-month audition for DP satus next season.

Pardo, who retired from international play in 2009, suited up for the Mexican national team 148 times, and appeared in the 1998 and 2006 World Cups.


In New England, the Revolution announced the signing of the first Designated Player in club history, a 22-year-old Argentine striker named Milton Caraglio.

Caraglio comes to Foxborough from Argentine club Rosario Central, where he scored 11 goals in 49 appearances in Argentina’s top flight. He sat out most of the 2009-10 season with a knee injury.

Caraglio has been called to the Argentina national team once, in 2009, but could not participate because of the knee injury.


This past Friday, the MLS Disciplinary Committee made league history by not only fining Real Salt Lake striker Alvaro Saborio $1,000 for his apparent dive against San Jose last week but also suspending the Costa Rican for one game. It’s the first such suspension in 16 years of MLS action.

Here’s the play:

The punishment comes roughly one month after D.C. United forward Charlie Davies was fined, but not suspended, for an even more egregious dive against … Real Salt Lake, of all teams.

RSL fans may gripe that Davies wasn’t suspended, but we like this move, and would wager that it proves effective in stopping future cases of simulation. Saborio sat out RSL’s game this past weekend against Columbus. His absence, along with that of Jamison Olave, who was hurt in the All-Star Game, no doubt contributed to the Crew’s 2-0 victory, a rare home loss for RSL.


From Philadelphia comes word that striker Carlos Ruiz, the Union’s leading scorer with six goals, is set to leave the team and join Veracruz of the Mexican second division.

The reason he’s leaving is as strange as the move is sudden: According to coach Peter Nowak, it’s because of the Union’s fans’ attitude toward Ruiz. Really.

Here’s what the coach said when the transfer was announced:

“There were a lot of fans, even in the stands here, that have a pre-bias towards Carlos, and made some bad comments about him being a diver, or this, or that, not working hard enough, and all these little things. It was getting tiring to all of us.”

Of course, Ruiz is a diver, and a bit of a dirty player as well, but he’s also the team’s leading scorer and probably a guy you’d want on your side for the homestretch of the season.

So what we have here, apparently, is another chapter in the long, sad legacy of Philadelphia fans misbehaving, losing sight of their own self-interests, alienating players, and ruining things for their fellow fans.

On the bright side, if the Union’s fans are acting like their Phillies, Eagles, and Flyers brethren, maybe it’s a sign that Philadelphia has truly embraced MLS.

Revs Hang with Man U for 50 Minutes …

Hey, we’re just trying to put last night’s kickoff of the World Football Challenge in the most positive light for the underdog.

New England actually carved out the game’s first chance, a flying header by Shalrie Joseph that went juuuust wide of Man U’s far post in the 12th minute.

But the Red Devils controlled possession all the way through and in the second half, after both teams made substitutions, things went off the rails for the Revolution, and the visitors cruised to a 4–1 win.

That turn in the plot may have had something to do with the fact that when the teams went to their benches, Man U produced Ryan Giggs, Michael Owen, and Park Ji-Sung, while New England came up with Otto Loewy and Ryan Guy. May have….

In any case, the Red Devils created some pretty slick goals, especially the fourth one, which was nothing short of dazzling.

To the highlights:

United’s next U.S. stop is in Chicago, where they’ll take on the Fire at Soldier Field on July 23rd (5:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2).

Red Devils Go Crimson

Manchester United is in the Boston area ahead of their clash with the New England Revolution in the World Football Challenge opener tonight (8:00 ET ESPN2), and yesterday, they took a tour of Harvard University.

Here’s some video:

A few comments: Nani’s Harvard hat is several sizes too big, and makes him look like a small boy. Dimitar Berbatov, before he flips his cap backward, oddly looks the part of a Harvard man, circa 1920. Or so we imagine. Wayne Rooney is more UMASS-Lowell or Boston University than Harvard, and the sight of him on the Cambridge campus is pretty rich. Though we could see him in the crowd (or on the ice) at a Beanpot game, screaming his lungs out alongside Tawmmy from Bev-uh-lee.

And Ryan Giggs is still a d***.

MLS Roundup: El Pescadito Returns; Playoffs Revamped

On Tuesday, the Philadelphia Union announced the signing of well-traveled 31-year-old Guatemalan striker Carlos Ruiz, who had been training with the club in presesason.

Ruiz comes to Philly on loan from Greek club Aris, and if he can recapture even 50% of his 2002 form with the Los Angeles Galaxy, he’ll be great value for the Union.

That season, El Pescadito scored a blazing 24 goals in 26 regular-season games, then added an MLS playoff-record eight goals and two assists in the postseason to lead the Galaxy to the final against New England. LA won the title game 1-0 with Ruiz scoring the goal in overtime.

His MLS Cup–winner is not on the InterWebs for some reason (the Backpost intern couldn’t find it anyway), but here’s Ruiz scoring a hat-trick for the Galaxy in a 2008 exhibition against Shanghai, with the first one coming off an effortless, inch-perfect chip from David Beckham:

That was from Ruiz’s second stint with Los Angeles; his first one ended in 2005, after which he went to FC Dallas for three years.

His return to Los Angeles was hampered by a knee injury, and the Galaxy traded him to Toronto FC in August of 2008. The Reds released him at the end of that season, and he’s since had stints with Olimpia Asuncion of Paraguay, Mexican side Puebla, and Aris.

On Wednesday, MLS unveiled its expanded playoff format, which looks like this:

The top three teams in each conference will get automatic bids to the postseason, and then the next four best teams—regardless of conference affiliation—will play one-game, wild-card play-in matches (seven-seed vs ten; eight vs nine). The wild cards will then get re-seeded, if necessary, so that the lowest surviving seed meets the Supporters’ Shield winner (top overall seed) in the conference semifinals.

Got that?

As before, the conference semifinals will be home-and-away aggregate series, and the conference finals and MLS Cup will be one-game battles.

Many, many people have a huge problem with the new format and with the MLS playoffs in general. We don’t. Until MLS gets promotion-relegation (and perhaps another extra-league competition beyond the CONCACAF Champions League), playoffs are the way to go. Otherwise you risk loads of meaningless games late in the season.

Soccer America‘s Paul Gardner makes a nice case for what’s right and what’s wrong about the MLS playoffs right here.

We don’t often agree with Gardner—whose columns sometimes read like a series of “harrumph, harrumph harrumphs” to us—but we think he nailed it on this one, especially regarding the arbitrary geographic designations of the conferences.

Worried that an Eastern team might win the Western Conference title due to the quirky nature of the MLS playoffs? Rename the conferences, sans geography, and … problem solved.

In other MLS news, the league is reviewing the incident that got New England players Shalrie Joseph and Kevin Alston sent home from training camp last weekend. Apparently, Joseph was arrested for trespassing at the team hotel. Details remain scarce, but the plot thickens slightly.

Joseph, Alston Sent Home from Revs Camp

New England’s Shalrie Joseph has been one of the better players in Major League Soccer during the past eight years, and arguably the best holding midfielder in the league during that span.

He helped lead the Revs to three straight MLS Cup appearances (2005-07) and is a four-time MLS Best XI selection (2005-09).

In 2007 and ’08, Glasgow giants Celtic made repeated bids for the dominating, 6-3 midfielder, but had their offers—of $1 million in ’07 and $2 million in ’08—rejected by MLS.

Joseph’s on-field performance has never been questioned, but last April, we saw the first chink in his off-field armor, as the Grenadian left the Revs to join the MLS substance abuse and behavioral health program.

He returned to New England in May and finished the year without incident, but now he appears to have gone off the rails again. Over the weekend, New England coach Steve Nicol dismissed Joseph, the Revs’ captain, and young defender Kevin Alston, from the team’s Orlando, Fla., training camp.

No one from the Revs has offered any specifics on the reason for the suspension, but vice president of player personnel Mike Burns, when asked if the pair would return to the team, New England  said, “Not for this trip.”

Veteran goalkeeper Matt Reis, who, along with Joseph, is the longest-serving player on the Revs roster had this to say:

“Every year you have to deal with things that are out of your control. As a team, the main thing we have to worry about is the guys who are with us, the guys who are here. We have to prepare for the season. It’s very unfortunate, very distracting, something I think could have been avoided. But we have to move on and we can’t stop doing what we’re doing to get ready for the season just because two guys aren’t here. So, we’ll go from there.”

That “something I think could have been avoided” comment is interesting. How so? A towel at the foot of the door? A spritz of Binaca?  (We kid, we kid.)

Nicol didn’t have much to say, but if we read between the lines of what he did say, we conclude that the Revs’ coach is ticked off:

“It’s not ideal, but everyone is professional here and you don’t want any of your teammates not to be here. But, at the same time, everyone is a good pro and, at the end of the day, you blow the whistle and roll the ball out and you play. That’s the main concern.”

He’s not making a whole lot of sense there, but he does repeat the phrase about everyone being a professional, seeming (in a soundbite version of sputtering rage) to call into question the professionalism of the suspended pair.

This is a big setback for Alston too. The 22-year-old defender received his first U.S. national-team call-up in 2010, and this definitely was not the way he wanted to kick off his 2011 season.