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Friedel has revitalized New England

New England Revolution
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Revs draft fullback Jordan McCrary in first round

Bolstering a severely depleted backline and adding attacking depth were two items of business the Revolution attended to on Thursday by drafting North Carolina fullback Jordan McCrary and Wake Forest winger Michael Gamble at the MLS SuperDraft, which was held in Baltimore.

McCrary, a defense-first fullback who can play on both sides of the backline, was selected in the first round (10th overall) while Gamble, an undersized second striker who projects as an outside midfielder, was chosen in the second round (30th overall).

Thursday's draft was a stark departure from the scripts seen in recent editions for the Revolution as the club stuck with its original selections rather than swing a trade or two, something it had done during each of the past three drafts.

"Every draft is different," Revolution general manager Michael Burns said in a club release on Thursday. "But we went into this year's with a plan in place and felt that we were able to execute that."

Perhaps the biggest item on the Revolution's draft day agenda was to address its dearth of defensive depth. With veteran fullbacks Kevin Alston and Jeremy Hall both gone, it was clear that the club needed to target someone to man the vacant right back's spot.

To that end, it was no surprise that McCrary's name was called when the Revolution were on the clock during the first round. As a four-year starter at Chapel Hill, McCrary played in 86 games, scoring a goal and notching nine assists. He was granted a medical redshirt for the 2014 season after he suffered a torn ACL during practice, a development that didn't deter the Revolution from tabbing him with the 10th pick.

"In the first round, we had a specific position identified," Burns said, "and feel that we were able to fill that with Jordan."

While McCrary wasn't quite the attack-minded fullback that the Revolution once had in Alston and Andrew Farrell (who switched to center back in 2015), that appears to be a secondary concern, especially with coach Jay Heaps, a former defender who never shied from bombing forward, likely plotting ways to make the first-round pick more dangerous on offense.

One player who won't have any hesitation to inject himself into to the Revolution offense is Gamble, a diminutive (5-foot-7) second striker who scored 24 goals and added 20 assists in 70 games during his four years at Wake Forest.

Although the Revolution already boast an abundance of talent in the midfield and up top, Burns said that that opportunity to select the Demon Deacon forward at the 30th spot was too good to pass by.

"We went with who we thought was the best player still on the board," Burns said, "and in our mind, that was Michael."

Because McCrary and Gamble did not sign with the league prior to the draft, both will attempt to earn contracts with the Revolution during the preseason, which kicks off on Jan. 22 at Gillette Stadium.

Meanwhile, the Revolution are slated to select one more prospect when rounds three and four of the draft are conducted via teleconference on Tuesday. The club holds a third-round pick (51st overall), while their fourth-round pick was traded to Vancouver as part of the Daigo Kobayashi deal in 2014.

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