You may not know much about him now, but you will soon enough. Revolution rookie defender Kyle Helton is a fast, strong, and attack-minded player who has performed well in training and reserve league action since he first signed with the club after graduating from Duke University last month.
The former Blue Devil was selected in the fourth round during this year’s SuperDraft in January, but waited until graduation to sign with the club. By all accounts, it appears the wait has been worth it, as Helton is proving to be an exciting player that may very well help anchor the Revs back line in the coming seasons.
I caught up with the speedy defender after training on Friday to pose a few soccer (as well as non-soccer) related questions to the rookie.
Brian: Tell me a little bit about how your time at Duke helped prepare you for MLS.
Kyle: Well, (the competition) was definitely at a high level at Duke. I mean, we were competing for a national championship every year, so I was surrounded by great players. And we also had a really good coaching staff every year. Coach (John) Rennie Mike Jacobs at (University of) Evansville brought me in. And then there were guys like Coach Marshall (Ray) and Coach (Mike) Jeffries, who just came up not too long ago, and Coach (Justin) Serapone and those guys, they were all just helping me (with my game), whether it was before or after practice, and then just a lot of stuff on the field to just get me in there and prepare me for this.
Brian: Now with that being said, the general consensus is that the ACC is the strongest conference in the country in terms of college soccer. How do you explain why the ACC is so dominant?
Kyle: It’s really just a lot of guys on the East Coast who have grown up together, playing one another, and then when they go up to their respective colleges…I know for me, in particular, I had alot of friends that went over to UNC, Maryland, Clemson (are all) guys that I was playing with in high school, and now, we’re battling on the college level. So, I mean, anytime you play a team in the ACC, any team can win. And it was just a battle every time.
Brian: After success in college, you were drafted by the Revs this year. What were your emotions after finding out you were drafted by the club?
Kyle: Oh man, it was awesome. I was getting phone calls and text messages before I could even see it because it wasn’t on TV. I just kept hitting the “refresh” button on my computer, and it wouldn’t load! I was getting (ticked) off a little bit (because of that). But, I started getting a lot of phone calls, and my sister was screaming. This is obviously a great team, and there are a lot of great players on the team, a great coaching staff, and it’s just a really nice environment here.
Brian: You were drafted in January, but didn’t immediately sign until about a few weeks ago because you had just graduated from Duke. Were you ever concerned that the time off in between the draft and graduation hurt you at all, as far as your preparation for MLS? Or were you ready anyway?
Kyle: Well, I actually had a chance to talk to a couple of friends of mine (about it). Jay Heaps called me while I was in my second semester, and I was just trying to graduate in my senior year. They basically just told me 'just stay in shape.' But I was just enjoying my last semester, and it's not going to mean that I’m behind, just as long as I get up here (in New England) and really get into it. I was fortunate to have some guys on this team to really help me out with that.
Brian: You mentioned Jay Heaps – how much of a role has he played as far as your overall development here? It must help to have a guy like Jay, also from Duke, and a veteran guy and team leader here.
Kyle: He’s been great. We talk on and off the field. Sometimes, we’ll just be over on the sidelines getting a drink, and he’ll say something to me, maybe explain one particular play, so that I have the same mindset. I was really fortunate to be able to speak with him before I got up here, and of course, my boy Chris Loftus was up here already. So I was talking to him on a regular basis, and he was just telling me how everything is up here, whether it be in a game, or how things were going in practice. It wasn’t necessarily easy for me to make the transition (from college to the pros) but it was easier because Chris and Jay were really helping me out.
Brian: I know that Jay played basketball while he was at Duke. Now, one-on-one, who wins that basketball game: You or Jay?
Kyle: You know, I don’t know. I haven’t worked on my jump shot in awhile. But Jay is extremely athletic. I might be a little too quick for him, though. You know, we’ll see. I’ll talk to him about, and we’ll figure something out. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Brian: As a rookie, I imagine the budget’s a little bit tight. Where does a rookie get something to eat around here?
Kyle: There’s not really a whole lot to do in the Wrentham area, and I haven’t really gotten around too much yet. Chris took me over to this place -Santucci’s - which is actually off of Route 1, and it’s incredible. We’ve gone over there several times. I would say, especially for me and Chris, and probably some of the other rookies, that’s been our place of choice.
Brian: Lastly, besides staying healthy, what are your goals this year as far as what you hope to accomplish in your rookie season?
Kyle: I mean really, I just want to get my foot in the door. Basically, I just want to find a role on the team, and figure out what it is the coaches want me to do, and help the team in any way I can, and hopefully win a (MLS) Championship.
6/22 TRAINING NOTES:
*The club invited University of Evansville goalkeeper Alec Dufty in for a trial this week. Dufty is a tall (6-5) nimble keeper, whose size makes him an imposing presence in goal. He wore number 34.
*Ryan Solle took the bulk of corner kicks in set-piece sequences.
*The FieldTurf is back.
*Doug Warren was in street clothes, as it appears that he is still nursing the effects of a concussion.
*The club also had two other trialists participating in practice, who were unnumbered.
*With an open roster spot available, reporter Gerardo Cordero asked Steve Nicol if there was anyone he was looking at right now to fill the spot, to which Nicol cryptically answered: “Yes, yes we do. Somebody who we’ve been trying to get for quite some time. I think we’re very close, so hopefully that will happen shortly.”
When asked if he could reveal the name of the player in question, Nicol smiled and gave a light-hearted “no”, which drew some laughter among the media contingent present.