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The Corner Stoehr: A Rookie Retrospective (of sorts)

Posted on 14 April 2010 by sstoehrst

Steve Nicol and Mike Burns are the best pair of college scouts in the history of sports and mankind.

We’re three matches into the MLS season and already two Revolution draftees, Zack Schilawski and Seth Sinovic, have vindicated the faith placed in them by the New England organization with style and aplomb. Sinovic has turned in three above-average performances at left back while Zack Schilawski became only the third rookie in MLS history to notch a hat-trick in his first season on Saturday against Toronto.

To be fair, placing too much emphasis on just the Super Draft products would be tremendously short-sighted. To that end, let’s take a look back over the last three weeks and grade the play of all of the Revs’ new arrivals. (This will be longer than usual – makes up for the lack of an article in the last two weeks. Marks are your standard A-F, based on performance and are totally arbitrary and subjective.)

Zack Schilawski – The former Wake Forest standout (we seem to do well with those) was on a collision course with a distinctly average C in my book before Saturday’s fireworks display. Schilawski spent the first two matches starved for service and seeming to lack the wherewithal to make the enticing run or the telling final move that could generate scoring chances.  It would seem, however, that he’s found his mojo. While his first and third goals were gifts from Nyassi and Dube, he displayed wonderful composure and awareness to put himself in position to tap both balls home. The second goal was all his, however, and he showed a maturity and work rate far beyond his years to pressure Nick Garcia into the giveaway, and then kept ice-water in his veins to roll the ball past Frei. Hopefully there’s more to come.
Grade: A-

Seth Sinovic – Injuries forced Seth into the starting lineup in week one against LA, and despite a shaky start he displayed encouraging tenacity and skill with a bit of ability going forward. Over the next two matches he formed a seemingly telepathic understanding with Chris Tierney and against Toronto he completely neutralized one of MLS’s most dangerous players, Dwayne DeRosario. His crossing could still use some work but it seems as though he’s already got the complete game necessary to excel at this level and has in my eyes been the best Revolution performer so far this season. Schilawski will likely grab the headlines among the rookies, but look for Sinovic to be this season’s Darrius Barnes.
Grade: A

Joseph Niouky – Niouky’s signing was always destined to be one of the most heavily scrutinized as he was essentially brought in to fill the void left by Jeff Larentowicz’s departure (not Revolution Resident Ginger, Pat Phelan already has that covered). To that end, his performances thus far have been…average, at best. Niouky was hailed as a possession-oriented midfielder, but lately all he’s shown is great stamina and a willingness to win the ball back. These are very admirable qualities in a defensive midfielder, but his distribution and technique has been abysmal. When Pat Phelan is the major influence in midfield, you know the other guy is doing something wrong. A healthy Shalrie Joseph should help take some pressure off of Niouky and let him get his game going in the coming weeks, but so far he looks to be depressingly ordinary.
Grade: C+

Cory Gibbs – Gibbs has entered a squad with many wounded leaders and filled the role to perfection. Still athletically gifted and a good reader of the game, Gibbs has had three straight solid matches and provides a good foil to the adventurous and at times lackadaisical Emmanuel Osei. There isn’t much else to say – he was an admirable captain without being spectacular in rounds one and two and will likely continue to anchor the backline for the rest of the season. Overall a quality acquisition.
Grade: A-

Preston Burpo – More of a depth signing than anything, Matt Reis’ offseason surgeries have meant that Burpo will be appearing between the sticks for a number of matches this year. A career journeyman backup, Burpo has not disappointed in the early going this season. He was at no fault for Edson Buddle’s goal against LA and made an incredible reflex leg-save to deny DC United what was likely a deserved goal in round two. Upon examining replays, I feel he was somewhat culpable for DeRo’s goal last weekend after taking a poor initial angle but he has looked the part of a seasoned veteran so far and all signs point to continued success.
Grade: B+

Zak Boggs – I noted in my appearance on the Midnight Ride podcast just after the Super Draft that some of the material floating around the internet on Zak Boggs pointed to technically gifted and promising player. To that end there isn’t much to report; Boggs has made two substitute appearances so far and hasn’t clocked a lot of minutes. It would appear that Nicol and company see Boggs as a more long-term prospect than Schilawski, but if Twellman and Jankauskas continue to have injury problems don’t expect the former Bradenton kid to spend his whole season riding pine. As it stands, his grade is more indicative of his lack of play thus far.
Grade: C-

Marko Perovic – Perovic’s signing wasn’t finalized until last week and he made just a cameo appearance off the bench on Saturday. His first touch looked good but in all honesty there’s nothing you can really say about him after just a few minutes. His grade is based on his potential and the spirit of the signing; a European with some pedigree and a guy who’s going to think about creating chances and scoring goals 24/7, but is still low simply because he hasn’t had a shot at showing anything yet.
Grade: B-

Khano Smith – Khano isn’t new, and his signing is inexplicable. I’m not sure I want to sit in the Fort at any matches this season for fear of having my nose broken by one of his errant crosses. Capable of the masterful but more often a producer of the woeful, I really feel that this roster spot could have been better used on someone else and I really hope Steve Nicol doesn’t show the favoritism toward Khano that was in evidence during his previous tenure as a Rev. Like Perovic, Khano hasn’t had much chance to display his talent, but we’re all very aware of it anyhow. Still, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and won’t grade this signing an F.
Grade: D

In conclusion, the Revs’ offseason acquisition GPA is 2.33, or a C+. At first this doesn’t look so good, but if you remove the players that haven’t seen any significant pitch time (Boggs, Perovic, Smith), you end up with a 3.4, which is a smidge higher than a B+.

It’s only been three matches and all of these rookies and new faces will have plenty of chances this season to raise (or lower) these grades, but right now it looks as though the Revolution are right where they need to be in terms of developing and integrating their new players. A few weeks ago I complained that the Revolution seem to be trying to ride a lucky streak of unheralded rookies and workmanlike, diamond-in-the-rough signings back to the MLS Cup, and lamented that they don’t go out and make a splash with an attractive South American or European player. If these first three matches are any indication, we’re going to be in the mix yet again this season and I’ll have egg on my face come Fall.

Agree with the grades or have opinions of your own? Leave a comment and let us know!

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  1. Wednesday Links « Six States, One Blog Says:

    […] at the Revs’ American Soccer News page, Steve Stoehr provides a report card for the Revs’ offseason acquisitions and draftees through the season’s 10% […]

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