The New England Revolution don’t shy away from throwing rookie defenders into the fire and often reap the benefits of letting inexperienced players test their mettle on the back line.
Michael Parkhurst was an almost-instant sensation at centerback, earning MLS rookie of the year honors in 2005. Meanwhile, Andrew Farrell, AJ Soares, Darrius Barnes, Kevin Alston, and James Riley are among other defenders that made good enough first impressions in their rookie years to merit more playing time.
Now, the spotlight has turned to Brandon Bye.
The Kalamazoo, Mich., and Western Michigan University product played in the Revolution’s first two games this season. He slotted in at right back and earned his first professional start in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids at Gillette Stadium.
“It was a pretty crazy moment,” Bye said of taking the field in Foxborough. “I’ve started plenty of collegiate level games and the summer league, but this was a different experience.
“Obviously, it’s a dream come true to get drafted. The coaches here had trust in me, which means a lot, and now through the first couple of games I think I’ve done alright. I just want to learn from everyone and compete, compete in practice and then go from there.”
Competition won’t be too hard to come by. Since both Farrell and Jalil Anibaba are natural right backs, Bye, who was selected eighth overall in the MLS Superdraft, will have to demonstrate what sets him apart.
The Revolution have the weekend off but return to action March 24 when they host New York City FC. Centerbacks Antonio Delamea and Claude Dielna, though suspended for last Saturday’s victory against Colorado, will be available for selection. That could force Farrell and Anibaba, who started the game in central defense, to fight with Bye for the starting spot at right back.
For now, though, Bye just wants to help the Revolution build momentum after last Saturday’s first win of the season
“We have some time off and it’s nice to get the legs fresh before our next game, but we also have to keep working and competing every day,” added Bye. “Training this week and next week is going to be very important, but we’re going to take this next game like any other.”