On Monday, the Revolution added another forward to the roster by acquiring former U.S. Men’s National Team U-20 striker Tony Taylor via MLS lottery.
The addition of Taylor marks the second time in the past six days that the club has added a new face to the forward corps after Andre Akpan was brought in via trade last week.
Here are some quick thoughts on Monday’s move:
Long-term potential intriguing. His name certainly doesn’t carry the same cache as, say, that of Jermaine Jones. Even so, the addition of Taylor isn’t your typical, low-risk signing. After all, we’re talking about a player who not only performed well at the U-20 and U-23 levels, but also held his own abroad in Portugal and Cyprus. In 68 career league games in Europe, he’s scored 15 goals, which isn’t bad at all for a player who jumped overseas right out of college. The landscape is littered with hot-shot, can’t-miss college prospects who’ve taken their talents overseas only to fall flat on their face. On paper, Taylor doesn’t appear to be one of them.
Forward corps remains in flux. The addition of Taylor is just the latest in a slew of moves the Revolution have made at an area in which they’re clearly looking for more consistency. Since July, the club has loaned out mercurial forward Jerry Bengtson to Belgrano, given the starting spot to Charlie Davies, demoted Patrick Mullins to the bench, and traded away Saer Sene for Akpan. So far, the results have been mixed. Davies has shown promise by scoring twice and adding an assist over the course of his last three games, and Heaps had praise for Mullins’ performance off the bench in last weekend’s draw to Portland. However, consistency remains an issue. Davies has played well, but his track record of injuries is undoubtedly a concern. The hot streak Mullins found himself in during the spring has cooled. Despite showing potential last season, Imbongo has been, by and large, a disappointment, and could be on borrowed time. Meanwhile, Akpan has only started 10 games over the course of his five-year career. Clearly, the way the 2014 season has unfolded up front has been a far cry from the situation seen last season, which saw Juan Agudelo fill the number 9 spot with nary a problem.
Another big body. Much like Akpan, Taylor is a big-bodied (6 feet, 170 pounds) striker with a touch of pace and a frame similar to that of the aforementioned Agudelo. And, no, that is not a wild coincidence. While Davies and Mullins have both shown themselves as capable at times, neither one of them is a classic, back-to-goal target man. As we saw last year, the club’s 4-1-4-1 formation requires a forward from that mold. A forward that pulls defenders toward him, thus opening the field for creative midfielders like Diego Fagundez, Lee Nguyen and Kelyn Rowe. The Revolution tried to make due with Mullins and, before that, Teal Bunbury as their target men earlier this season. But with the offense stuck in the doldrums for the past two months, it’s obvious that the front office is trying to find a forward with similar qualities to those of Agudelo.
Depth at the forefront of Monday’s move. While Taylor has European experience on his resume, let’s not kid ourselves: He was not brought to New England to single-handedly save the Revolution offense. In fact, general manager Michael Burns said in a club statement that Taylor will “add to the competition already on our team.” In other words, Taylor probably isn’t going to be asked to go on a scoring tear down the stretch. But, if all goes according to plan, the 25-year-old forward could bolster the offense off the bench and, perhaps, get a start or two should Davies need a breather.
Offense still needs immediate help. Taylor’s presence should sharpen the competition up top, which in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. However, the signing alone shouldn’t be the last one the club makes before the roster freeze deadline, which is just less than a month away. The Revolution currently rank second in the league in shots per game (14), but are 14th in goals scored this season. Translation: the Revolution don’t have a pure finisher. In order to get over their current struggles -- a stretch in which they’ve gone winless in 10 of their last 11 -- the Revolution are still going to need help up top. Otherwise, the only order of business for the players and coaches come November might be booking tee times at the local course.