On Thursday, Orlando City opted to take part in Stage 2 of the 2015 MLS Re-Entry Draft, selecting defender Kevin Alston from the New England Revolution. Alston, a speedy 27-year-old from Washington D.C., was selected tenth overall by the Revs in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft.
Alston, perhaps not the biggest off-season splash, is an interesting player, making the MLS All-Star Game in 2010 and then fighting back from a diagnosis of chronic myelogenous leukemia in 2013, earning the MLS Comeback Player of the Year Award. He can give Rafael Ramos some competition on the right side of the back line and make spot starts when need be.
To find out more about Orlando City's newest field player, we turned to Steve Stoehr, "Regiment Commander" over at our sister blog, The Bent Musket, which covers the Revolution. Steve was kind enough to give us his take on this acquisition by the Lions.
What can you tell Orlando City fans about Kevin Alston's strengths?
The Bent Musket: Alston's major strength -- maybe his only strength -- is his speed. He's getting older and yet it seems like he's still some kind of next-level fast. He uses that pace to get forward in the attack, and even though his other tools in the final third may be sub-par, his presence alone unsettles a defense. That speed also allows Alston to recover when he wanders out of position or overcommits, which happens a lot. Speed is Alston's entire game, but he has plenty of it.
How about his weaknesses?
TBM: Alston has several weaknesses in both phases of his game. In defense, he has terrible positional discipline. It's gotten better through the years, but it's still a glaring weakness. He can be prone to wandering way off course, getting sucked inside or stranding himself too high on the pitch. In the attack, he's an inconsistent crosser of the ball. His passing is fine, but his crosses are as likely to hit a fan as they are to hit their target. Otherwise, his game is fairly well-rounded.
Alston reached the MLS All-Star Game in 2010. Obviously injuries have been an issue over the past few years but how close is he now to the player who represented the Revolution in the ASG that year?
TBM: A lot of people were surprised he was named that year -- not because he was bad, but because he wasn't exceptional. That said, his game hasn't changed much except that he's a better 1v1 defender now and he's hurt all the time. [Editor's note: Alston's 16 appearances last year were the most since he had 31 in 2012.]
Do you see Alston more as a starter or a substitute at this stage of his career?
TBM: Definitely a sub. I have not seen him put together an extended run of starts, or even substitute appearances, in several seasons. He pops a hammy before he can get too much momentum going. I doubt you'll get better than that.
Do you feel this was a good player acquisition for Orlando City?
TBM: I do. You can get him at a pay cut and he fills in admirably on both flanks. The man still has good stuff to contribute for 15 or so matches in a season, and if he suddenly stays healthy, even more. Orlando is also really getting one of the good guys here. Kevin was a terrific locker room presence and member of the community. He'll be missed here.
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Big thanks to Steve for letting us know a bit more about Alston. He doesn't seem very high on Kevin, but he does think Orlando made the right move here, and perhaps a change of scenery, some better injury luck, and a little coaching by Adrian Heath will make a difference. Plus, this team can always use guys of high character.