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Feb. 10, 2002 – Revolution select Taylor Twellman No. 2, Shalrie Joseph in 2nd round of MLS SuperDraft

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Still difficult to fathom how Dallas could have passed up Twellman with the MLS’ first pick, though No. 1 pick Chris Gbandi (currently Northeastern’s head coach) always impressed me as an outside back. Revolution coach Fernando Clavijo needed only a few minutes to decide what he would do if Twellman was available, as described in excerpts of my story in the 1/12/2002 editions of the Boston Globe below.

Twellman went on to score 101 goals in 174 regular-season games, his .581 scoring rate best among MLS’ top 10 career scorers. Raul Diaz Arce is No. 2 on the Revolution scoring rate list (.556), Joe-Max Moore No. 3 (.459). Twellman converted another 10 goals in 21 playoff games and totaled 119 goals in 211 appearances in all competitions for the Revolution.

The Revolution were in a rebuilding state, but were impressed with Joseph, though they knew he would be in Europe and unavailable until at least 2003. Assistant coach John Murphy had scouted Joseph and recommended the Revolution take Joseph. Clavijo did not need much convincing. The Revolution’s third-round pick, Ian Fuller, played 14 games (5 starts) in 2002 and went on to become an Orlando City SC assistant coach under Adrian Heath.

REVOLUTION CATCH BREATH OF FRESH AIR

AGUAS DE LINDOIA, Brazil – If a soccer team is seeking a cure, this is the place. At least, that is what the Revolution are hoping. Not only is the atmosphere invigorating, but the competition is stimulating. In fact, the competition might be overstimulating.

Coach Fernando Clavijo is pleased with the therapeutic atmosphere. The team chemistry is visibly improved, the direction much clearer than it was a year ago. Last year, Clavijo was experimenting, searching for players, waiting for others to sign or recover from injury. By today, when No. 1 draft choice Taylor Twellman arrives, the team should be virtually intact.

“A typical American team doesn’t share many things,” Clavijo said yesterday. “But here we are together at practice and after practice. There isn’t that much to do. You can watch TV, but everything is in Portuguese. So they are playing Nintendo, shopping together. They bought a Ping-Pong table. We are spending a lot of quality time together. Now we have a month and a half to figure out who fits with whom.”

Clavijo took a break from practice Sunday to participate in scouting and drafting in Florida, skipping the final two rounds to join general manager Todd Smith on a flight from Orlando to make a Miami-Sao Paulo connection. Major League Soccer changed the site of the draft after dropping the Miami Fusion franchise last month. The Revolution also added defender Shalrie Joseph, who is trying out with a team in Italy, and striker Ian Fuller from Clemson University.

The addition of Twellman might seem superfluous, since the Revolution already have three proven strikers. Twellman, who has been playing with 1860 Munich in Germany, will likely challenge Wolde Harris for a position behind projected starters Alex Pineda Chacon and Mamadou Diallo. Twellman, who turns 22 at the end of the month, went to Europe after finishing as the third-leading scorer in the FIFA Under 20 World Championships in Nigeria in 1999.

“I didn’t bring him here to sit on the bench,” Clavijo said. “I am impressed with a kid like that, who went straight to Germany at a young age. He exposed himself to a different brand of soccer. After two years, he decided to come back, but no one has seen him for a while. I can only believe that he has gotten much better, but now he has a lot of experience, and he is still young.”

Twellman convinced Clavijo by scoring three goals in 20 minutes in a showcase game for draft-eligible players in Fort Lauderdale last week.

Chacon succeeded Diallo as MLS’s leading scorer last year but is also expected to be the Revolution’s most versatile attacking player. Chacon could complement Diallo as a striker or alternate with Andy Williams in central midfield, opening a forward spot for Harris or Twellman.

REVOLUTION’S TWELLMAN IS POISED FOR STARDOM

MOGI MIRIM, Brazil – Taylor Twellman’s reputation preceded him to Europe, and now it has been extended to South America. Twellman has not scored a goal, and in fact only played 30 minutes in the Revolution’s 3-1 exhibition loss to Guarani last week. But scouts from Brazilian clubs are referring to him as “O Alemao” (The German) because of his experience with Munich 1860, and are eager to follow his development.

Twellman, who turns 21 next month, is comfortable with the attention. Expectations have been high since he was born into an athletic family that includes a grandfather (Jim Delsing) who played Major League Baseball, an uncle (Jay Delsing) who is on the PGA Tour, and his father (Tim Twellman), who played in the North American Soccer League.

“I joke with the guys that I was born to play a sport,” Twellman said. “In a family like mine you better be able to play a sport.”

And Twellman has been able to prove himself, so far. He scored 115 goals for University High School in St. Louis, and was versatile enough to score 47 goals and have a .450 batting average as a shortstop for the baseball team in his junior year. A year later, Twellman was offered a contract with the Kansas City Royals, but instead opted for a baseball scholarship to the University of Maryland.

“I never did play baseball at Maryland,” said Twellman. “Instead, I played soccer and stayed in the national team program.”

In the 1999 FIFA Under-20 championships in Nigeria, Twellman was the second-leading scorer, converting twice in a 3-1 win over Cameroon and getting both US goals in a 3-2 loss to Spain. Twellman then was off to Europe.

“The offer from Munich 1860 was too good to refuse,” Twellman said. Twellman returned to the US after playing 40 games for Munich 1860’s reserve team.

“1860 was simply not going to develop young players,” he said. “The youngest player in their first team was 24. I wasn’t in their plans for the near future, and I needed to go somewhere where I have a chance to play.”

Twellman will receive a chance when the Revolution meet Ponte Preta in an exhibition in Campinas today.

“(Twellman) works hard and makes good decisions with the ball,” Revolution coach Fernando Clavijo said. “He knows when to make the pass and he releases the ball quick. Playing in Germany helped prepare him for the physical part of the game, which is what the MLS is all about. The ages of 17, 18, 19 are crucial for a player, and at that time he went to Germany, so instead of developing bad habits, he has developed a lot of good habits.”

TODAY IN NEW ENGLAND SOCCER HISTORY

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