The goal: find the diamond in the rough.
The challenge: you have one shot to do it.
It may not be the easiest task, but interim head coach Mike Petke and the Red Bulls staff are approaching the 2013 MLS SuperDraft with one goal in mind: find a coachable and talented player with the 22nd overall pick.
A number of factors play a part, but Petke remains confident that research is key.
“We can already cross off a number of names knowing that they will not be available,” said Petke. “Now it’s about finding that guy who, not only is good enough to play at the next level, but can fit into how we’re going to play and to fit into the positional need that we need.”
And so they hit the books and video tape. They not only research the player by position and performance, but also keep an eye out for the type of personality that will mesh with the team, both on and off the field.
“The last thing we want is somebody coming in and thinking they’re more than they are, or expecting something before they’ve earned it,” Petke said. “You want that humble person. That person who is willing to learn from his mistakes, take some criticism and improve over time. And is willing to put the work in. You don’t want a guy coming in with diamond earrings the first day, driving a BMW.”
In a perfect world, Petke admitted the Red Bulls would leave the draft in Indianapolis with the next Tim Ream-like player; a guy who could approach the game with a willingness to learn and look to make an immediate, and most importantly positive, impact upon joining the team. The St. Louis native and current Bolton Wanderers defender was selected 18th overall in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft and was a regular on New York’s back line for two seasons, a total of 58 matches, before transferring to the English side at the end of the 2011 MLS season.
Rest assured the talent is there and capable of making an impact. Look no further than last year’s draft, when the Red Bulls added Fordham University’s Ryan Meara to the goalkeeping staff with the 31st overall pick. Many believe, and justifiably so, that the Yonkers native would’ve been a Rookie of the Year candidate, had it not been for the unfortunate circumstance of season-ending hip surgery in August.
But as Petke suggested, the immediate impact of the player on the pitch is not always the focal point (although it’s definitely a nice bonus). It comes down to a player’s drive and personality. In that sense, Meara undoubtedly fits the mold, but so too does a player like Connor Lade, who signed a homegrown contract in December 2011.
“Those two, personality wise, I think are the mold. Just their attitude coming in, with the success that both of them had so quick, you would never know it walking down the street and talking to them,” Petke said. “They’re guys who put team first. They’re the last ones to leave the training field, first ones to arrive there. Head down, respectful, never an incident whatsoever on or off the field, and just want to get better. And that, to me, is invaluable.”
New York will look to find those same qualities when its number is called Thursday afternoon. Watch all the action live on NewYorkRedBulls.com starting at 12pm ET.