The Revolution Deserve Your Attention New England

Playoff Hype

The New England Revolution are the only current team that are playing meaningful games on your TV as it stands currently. So, get off your butt and change the channel to ESPN tonight at 8:00 PM. I promise you, it will be worth it. The Revolution are a team on a mission and could use your support. In a season where they’ve been unable to have fans in their stadium, they’ve still found ways to win.

They face off against the Philadelphia Union tonight in a Round One playoff. This is the sixth time they meet this season, due to the “pod” aspect of the season this year. They are no longer teams that can say they don’t have a rivalry. It has been named by the MLS Store the “Liberty Rivalry” and there is no better name for it. The Revolution have managed to lose all but the second meeting they had. All those games were one goal matches, besides the final meeting on Decision Day.

Don’t let that fool you though, the games have been hard fought matches, with Andre Blake making ridiculous saves in each game. Here, in the playoffs, Blake has not been known to do the same, he’s crumbled under pressure in each game he’s appeared in for the Union. I hope to see New England pepper Blake with shots during the match, keep him on his toes.

Forget The Past, Focus On The Future

I’ve consistently fought the case for time for Rennicks and Buchanan. Tajon Buchanan is the only member of the Revolution this year to have finished a goal past Andre Blake. Rennicks is also one that would be quite likely to keep Philadelphia on their toes. Justin has speed and an unknown potential to strike on goal. For Bruce Arena, who has been quoted that these teams know no secrets. Employing the players who he doesn’t play all too often who have been known to make things happen.

The Buchanan and DeJuan Jones outside back show that was shown out in Montreal was a phenomenal attack minded defensive pairing. Matthew Polster was shuttled into the back-line when Tajon Buchanan would make runs up the field. The dynamic moves of the formation caused issues for the Montreal defense who wouldn’t know when Tajon would stroll down the right side.

Why They Deserve Your Attention

Who else is currently playing on a Tuesday night? The Revolution are currently your only sports team playing on a Tuesday night in the Playoffs. Make the time, watch them play tonight. They have an identity formulated through their three designated players who make game changing strikes at a moments notice. Carles Gil received a pass from Gustavo Bou and combined for the first goal of the Play-In game on Friday. Bou created his own space for his goal in the dying minutes of the game to win the play-in round.

Adam Buksa was a strong aerial presence during the Montreal game. He was inches close to making his mark on the game with his head. We will continue to see that much in this game. He has players who can give the ball an easy pass into the middle where he waits for the chance. It would be so important for him to get one in these matches, to prove to himself that he can finish the chances that matter.

The New England Revolution deserve your attention because they’re playing strong soccer at the moment. The team on the whole is entirely talented and have created a multitude of chances throughout the year. We have the runner-up of the Goalkeeper of the Year award, Matthew Turner. He’s also a shoe-in to be brought up to the US Men’s National Team as a goalkeeper. He has excelled in shot stopping this year. He’s so exciting to watch when a player goes 1 v 1 against him.

The Revolution Is Televised

They play on ESPN tonight at 8:00, make sure to tune in New England!

The Chattanooga Dilemma Part One: Chattanooga FC

Learning Of The Rivalry And Teams

I was doing some analysis of the New England Revolution II’s match against the Chattanooga Red Wolves in USL League One on Twitter. It was a great night for Revs II against the Red Wolves, as they had been demolished 4-0 in their earlier meeting. CRW was absolutely peppering Joe Rice with shots. He ended up with eight saves during the game. Rice had topped the league in saves with 43 at that point! The next keeper down had 34 saves.

I decided to @ChattRedWolves, figuring it was a decent way to seem professional in my tweets. Recently, BelieveInBostonSports.com reached out to me to intern with them as a writer for the Revs on the whole. As I am currently in COVID-19 work drought, the obvious answer was yes. Unbeknownst to me, there is a rivalry in Chattanooga that just recently appeared out of thin air, or so I thought.

An adamant fan of Chattanooga FC decided to sent me a quick reply to my analysis that he felt I shouldn’t @ them at all. We ended up messaging about the issues that arose out of the Chattanooga Red Wolves existing. I heard him out and continued on my merry way. The reasoning behind both teams existing was fairly simple, but still troubling me. Directly after our conversations, I did a bit more research on the rivalry and ideals of both teams. Learning about these types of stories are what I live for in the soccer realms. It takes me back to reading The Miracle of Castel Di Sangro by Joe McGinniss. Although, this one has a bit more drama and has yet to pass.

Chattanooga FC, The Peoples’ Club (no, no, not Everton)

Chattanooga FC were founded in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2009. Tim Kelly, Krue Brock, Marshall Brock, Paul Rustand, Sean McDaniel, Daryl Heald, Hamilton Brock, Thomas Clark and Sheldon Grizzle were the co-founders. The team started out playing in the National Premier Soccer League(NPSL). The NPSL was in the seventh year of their existence. CFC ended up that year in the middle of the Southeast Division, with four wins, three losses and one draw. This didn’t earn them anything but the idea of staying power. That being said, they were one win out of the playoffs.

Quick Run Down Of Their Season Finishes:

  • 2009, played in the NPSL, 3rd in the Southeast Region, didn’t qualify for playoffs
  • 2010, played in the NPSL, 1st in SE Region, National Finals
  • 2011, played in the NPSL, 3rd in SE Region, didn’t qualify
  • 2012, played in the NPSL, 1st in SE Region-West, National Finals
  • 2013, played in the NPSL, 1st in SE Region, South Regional Finals
  • 2014, played in the NPSL, 1st in SE Region, National Finals
  • 2015, played in the NPSL, 1st in SE Region, National Finals
  • 2016, played in the NPSL, 1st in SE Region, National Semi-Finals
  • 2017, played in the NPSL, 2nd in SE Region-West, Southeast Quarterfinals
  • 2018, played in the NPSL, 1st in SE Region
  • 2019, played in the NPSL, 1st in SE Region
  • 2020, *played fall season of NISA, NISA Independent Cup, 1st in Group A of Fall Season, 1st in Independent Cup – Southeast.

*NISA seasons were shifted into Cups, and re-created to play more games due to COVID 19 outbreak.

As you can see, they were dominating the NPSL pretty handily and wanted to try their hand in NISA this year. Well, we all know that the Coronavirus pandemic hit and created issues all over. During the restart, they were able to start off in the NISA Fall Independent Cup, which they topped their region in July. After the Independent cup, they restarted with a Fall Season, which Chattanooga FC were the top place in the Eastern Conference. Directly after that, they headed into the NISA Fall Championship, which consisted of eight teams. They were second in Group B and ended up making their way to the NISA Fall Championship semi-finals. CFC was ousted by the now-USL Championship side Oakland Roots.

Attendance, Brand: a major difference

Attendance

The difference between the two teams currently is their attendance and their brand. If you just focus in on the Real Betis friendly, Chattanooga FC drew 6,115 fans for that game. On a normal game day in a season of the NPSL in 2019, CFC were pulling in on average around 2,500-3,000 fans. They hosted the NPSL National Championship where they drew the NPSL record for attendance, over 18,000 fans.

Whereas, the Chattanooga Red Wolves in 2019 had an average of around 1,600 for their entire 2019 season. The NPSL/NISA side CFC is clearly out performing them in ticket sales. The Chattanooga FC are wonderfully doing something right to exist this well beside a team trying to take over the market. Their fans are fervent and follow along as The Chattahooligans. The Chattahooligans are an amazing crew of supporters who have gotten behind their team completely, a good portion of the ‘Hooligans are the one’s who invested in the team during the WeFund.

Brand

Speaking on brands, CFC has built a great following on Twitter, amassing close to 14,000 followers since 2009. Their Facebook page is even bigger at 19,300 liking, 19,800 following around the same-time frame. It’s clear they’re are a force to be reckoned with in their social media game. They also managed to play La Liga’s Real Betis, MLS’ Atlanta United, and FC Dallas and Liga Nacional de Guatemala’s CSD Municipal. There’s no doubting the communications teams’ vigor for recruiting fans or even just love.

The Red Wolves are currently at 4,026 followers on Twitter and around 4,000 followers on Facebook as well. Since July 2018, while they have grown, it has yet to be seen whether they achieve the same height as CFC. They haven’t managed any high-profile friendlies yet at all.

Why The Rivalry?

Breaking it down to the ideals? Corporatism vs Localism. Chattanooga FC existed long before the Chattanooga Red Wolves were an idea. CFC has been putting people in the seats of Finley Stadium for 11 years now and doing a good job of it. This is a club that managed to get Real Betis to come play them for a friendly just last year. Yes, that Real Betis, La Liga giant Real Betis. You know what the score was? Real Betis 4 – 3 Chattanooga FC. They put three goals past players who have been in Real Betis’ academy system for years. They deserve a round of applause from me.

The local fans have now literally put their money into the club, since the Red Wolves came into existence. Just last year, the Chattanooga FC owners I mentioned earlier put the club up on WeFund. WeFund essentially partitions the team up into investments by whoever puts enough in to deserve a piece. Therefore, this team is run by the fans now, 3,256 to be exact and they get a say in the board members, everything that’s voted on.

With that being said, it is absolutely an instance of localism vs corporatism there in Chattanooga. The Chattanooga Red Wolves came in with invested money. They threw said money at the original general manager of CFC, Sean McDaniels and the assistant director of coaching, Jimmy Weekly. They left the team in 2018 to join the newly created and USL League One sanctioned team owned by Bob Martino, a real estate investor in Park City, Utah. He also has now created a second team, a feeder team, back in Utah.

I appreciate the ideals behind Chattanooga FC as I’ve been following groups like Providence City FC, Rhode Island Reds, Hartford City FC, and even newly added Valeo FC. I refereed Valeo FC back when I reffed for the BSSL. These teams are all trying to make it on their own and build from the ground up, like Chattanooga FC did over 11 years.

It’s tough not to get upset at the ideal of someone coming in and just ripping out the innards of a company by throwing money at it. But, the Chattanooga Red Wolves are an existing team now, in USL League One and they are doing well for themselves. That’s a chat for another day. Another article.

New England Revolution: Playoff Roster Preview Pt. 5: Bruce

The New England Revolution made the MLS playoffs for the second consecutive year under head coach and general manager Bruce Arena. In contrast, their form over the last two games has not been the most promising, sloppy defending against DC United and just a lackluster performance against Philadelphia. With that being said, let’s take a look at Bruce Arena and his coaching heading into the playoffs.

Manager – Bruce Arena

Bruce Arena brings years of MLS playoff experience to the table but will it be enough to get the Revolution over the hump. After the performances against D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union, it will be seen how he re-energizes this team. Going against familiar opposition in the Montreal Impact to start the run, can he continue to get one over on Thierry Henry. His decisions and preparation of the team will go along way to deciding how far this team goes. It will also come down to how he reads the game situation and manages the substitutions. I expect him to get the Revolution through the playoff game and have confidence he can lead them on a deep run in the playoffs.

Overall Thoughts:

This team and roster have the pieces to go deep in the playoffs. In Matt Turner and Carles Gil, they have two players who can change a game’s complexion. In the supporting cast around them, there is depth and talent to cause problems. What remains to be seen is can this team gel? Can they play with the fluidity that was seen in the first game in the MLS is Back tournament, when they ran over the Impact but could not finish? If that is the team that shows up, the rest of the league should be on notice.

New England Revolution: Playoff Roster Preview Pt 4: Goalkeepers

The New England Revolution made the MLS playoffs for the second consecutive year under head coach and general manager Bruce Arena. In contrast, their form over the last two games has not been the most promising, sloppy defending against DC United and just a lackluster performance against Philadelphia. With that being said, let’s take fourth look at their roster heading into the playoffs.

Goalkeeping

There were lofty expectations for incumbent number one goalkeeper Matt Turner coming into this season, and he exceeded them. While the opener in Montreal left something wanting, he had injured his knee on that piece of shit that was the turf. Outside the one game Brad Knighton started, Turner has had another exceptional season. Matt Doyle, one of MLS’s analysts, even called for him to be the USMNT starter over Zac Stefan. It is the position where no questions are asked as we enter into the playoffs.

Matt Turner has another stand out season for the Revolution. The one nice thing about not having fans in the seats is that you can hear his growth in his box’s confidence and command. While he holds himself accountable, he also has set an expectation for his defenders and will ensure they are not doing their part. His distribution has also improved immensely. I came into the season saying he needed to show a step up, and he exceeded even my expectations. The playoffs will be his moment to shine. After losing out to Andre Blake for Goalkeeper of the Year (I still think that’s the wrong decision), he will continue to have the chip on his shoulder. He will be the main reason the Revolution have confidence they can take on any opponent in the playoffs.

Brad Knighton covered well in his one start for Turner. He is a serviceable MLS keeper and good backup. He does command his box well and can make an important save or two, but if we see Knighton in the playoffs outside of the game against Montreal, the Revolution will need the backline to step up.

Jeff Caldwell did not see the pitch, so if we see him in the playoffs, the Revolution is in serious trouble.

New England Revolution: Playoff Roster Preview Pt. 3 – Defenders

Revolution Team

The New England Revolution made the MLS playoffs for the second consecutive year under head coach and general manager Bruce Arena. In contrast, their form over the last two games has not been the most promising, sloppy defending against DC United and just a lackluster performance against Philadelphia. With that being said, let’s take another look at their roster heading into the playoffs.

Defense

Outside of the last two games and the first match against NYCFC (the 2-0 defeat that got me ranting again), the New England Revolution defensive is as reliable as I have seen it in several years. They were tied for the 6th best goals against in the league and improved immensely from last year. The addition of Henry Kessler through the draft and the signing of Alexander Büttner, coupled with the development of DeJuan Jones and Brandon Bye, have helped secure the backline for the Revolution.

Brandon Bye has an excellent start to the season before seeing his playing time shrink up with the emergence of DeJuan Jones. Bye is an excellent on-ball defender who was shutting down wide playmakers throughout the season. While his crossing leaves something to be asked, he continues to grow as a defender. He did leave the game against Philadelphia with a slight injury, but if he has recovered, I still only expect him to come from the bench if Jones is healthy. Otherwise, he is the starting right back.

Alexander Büttner had an overall good season. He came into the Revolution, having not played in almost an entire calendar year. He struggled with a small injury initially but once MLS is Back rolled around saw plenty of time. His class and leadership helped solidify the defense, he also has created a very good relationship with star newcomer Henry Kessler. His cultured left foot was also on display, and while I think he would have loved to add a goal or two, he did tie for the team lead in assists with 3. I expect him to whip a couple of balls into the box against Montreal and, if the Revs go on a prolonged run, contribute some assists.

Antonio Delemea outside of the Montreal game, I think Delemea provided good depth in the center of defense for the Revolution. Another player who came into the season injured but saw his playing time diminished because of the emergence of rookie phenom Henry Kessler. I feel like he should be on the bench throughout the playoffs, but I am unsure.

Henry Kessler should have been the Rookie of the Year, but MLS got rid of that award and created Young Player of the Year. Kessler led the Revolution outfield players in minutes played and all defensive categories. He has become a rock in front of Matt Turner and might be the second most important piece in the team sheet currently. Kessler’s relationship with Turner and the rest of the backline shows his command and knowledge of the position. He also scored the lone goal from defenders this season. I expect him to continue to provide that steady presence in the back, and if Montreal defends the way they did against DC, possibly a goal from a corner.

Andrew Farrell continued to grow back into a dominating center back. His partnership with Kessler was quite apparent, and the two of them continue to lead the backline. His understanding of the right-back position works from his time there has also helped him with coverage when Bye or Jones gets caught upfield. I do not expect goals from Farrell though his sole professional goal came against the Impact. I am hoping to lead the line and keeping Turner’s goal free of ridiculous chances.

DeJuan Jones, outside of Henry Kessler, Dejuan Jones has the most surprising rise in this season. His pace was always evident, but his ability to become an on ball defender progress steadily throughout the year. Initially providing cover at left-back when Büttner was injured, Jones made cameo appearances off the bench. After consistent playing time, due to another Büttner injury, he took over the right-back starting role from Brandon Bye. I hope to see him get his first assist or two of the season in the playoffs if healthy.

Michael Mancienne was a hot mess at center back this season. With 0 completed tackles and only three attempted in his five games, coupled with his inability to read where the threat is coming from, he caused significant issues when on the pitch. While he saw some game time, we are in trouble if we see him in the playoffs.

Seth Sinovic played 14 minutes this season due to Bye’s injury. While he may be on the bench, we are in trouble if we see him on the pitch.

New England Revolution: Playoff Roster Preview Pt. 2 – Midfielders

Revolution Team

The New England Revolution made the MLS playoffs for the second consecutive year under head coach and general manager Bruce Arena. In contrast, their form over the last two games has not been the most promising, sloppy defending against DC United and just a lackluster performance against Philadelphia. With that being said, let’s take another look at their roster heading into the playoffs.

Midfield

While frustrating this season on offense, the Revolution midfielders did an outstanding job helping out on the ball’s defensive side. The loss of Carles Gil for most of the season did not help, but the midfield only contributed one goal from open play and two goals overall. They also only added four assists to the team, which needs to improve in the postseason. Defensively, they contributed to one of the best defensive records the Revolution have had in recent seasons and will hope to continue that in the postseason.

Scott Caldwell has become a regular starter again towards the end of the season for the Revolution. Caldwell played well in his defensive midfield role but offered very little going forward. Simultaneously, his passing accuracy has always been towards the highest in his matches and offers good leadership in the locker room and pitch. I expect him to continue to start, though Polster is healthy and ready to start moving to a bench role. No assists, but more hard defensive work is expected from him through the playoffs.

Diego Fagundez provided one goal this season and no assists out of the midfield. While he did provide good cover tracking back, Fagundez was used more as a utility midfielder than an attacking midfielder. He does seem to slow play down but continues to provide adequate depth. I don’t expect him to see starting minutes, but he will get playing time from the bench. I honestly hope he can provide assists, but I am just counting on the work rate from him.

Carles Gil is welcomed back into the squad the last month of the season after being out for most of it with an Achilles injury/ bone spur surgery. With these matches being more pre-season for him than anything else, he looked solid in creating offense for the Revolution. The last time he faced Montreal, he created 15 scoring chances (per fbref.com, check them out!). Expect huge things from him in terms of time and creation in the playoffs. He could be the final piece to unlock the offense.

Tommy McNamara came in mid-season and has become a steady player for the Revs. He always looks to pass before shot and has one of the four midfield assists this season. McNamara has played in a defensive midfield position and a winger, and a more creative team role. He has a very high work rate and continues to impress whenever he comes in from the bench or is in the starting eleven, depending on how the Revs line up in the playoffs to either start or be a critical substitute, hopefully adding an assist or two.

Lee Nguyen came in as a mid-season acquisition and has provided depth and creativity to the midfield. Contributing one of the two goals from the midfield, all be it from the spot, he also contributed one assist. For someone who came into the team as having played only 90 minutes the whole year, he has become an excellent impact sub and added creativity when started. I can see the Revolution starting him and Gil together if they want to go more offensive, but I expect him to contribute from the bench. Hoping for a couple of assists from him and maybe a goal.

Matt Polster – Since acquisition from Rangers before his red card and subsequent concussion, Matt Polster had a significant impact. He added steal and aggressiveness on the defensive side of the ball. Polster worked hard and led the press often to good effect in his role as a defensive midfield. He also contributed with one assist. I expect him to come off the bench as defensive reinforcement late in games, but I hope he gets in from the stat because it could free up the Revolution to play a more fluid and attacking line.

Kelyn Rowe gives me fits when trying to preview him for the playoffs. He started to fill the number eight role of box to box midfielder with creativity but has become more of a late cameo player. His passing and vision are usually excellent, plus Rowe can hit a shot from distance. Hoping he gets minutes off the bench and maybe ships in a goal or assist or two.

New England Revolution: Playoff Roster Preview Pt. 1 Forwards

Revolution Team

The New England Revolution made the MLS playoffs for the second consecutive year under head coach and general manager Bruce Arena. In contrast, their form over the last two games has not been the most promising, sloppy defending against DC United and just a lackluster performance against Philadelphia. With that being said, let’s take a look at their roster heading into the playoffs.

Forwards

The Revolution forwards have produced 22 of the 25 goals for the team this year. 88% is a significant percentage, but also shows the reliance on the forwards to produce. If they do not produce, this team has shown its struggles. While Gustavo Bou is returning from a hamstring injury, the two weeks between matches will help ensure he is up and running for the play-in round match against Montreal.

Adam Buksa had a turbulent regular season for the Revolution but ended with six goals to his credit. He gives the Revolution an excellent hard working number 9. His hold up play is pretty good, and he continues to make good runs off the ball. I think you should expect Buksa to get at least one or two goals in the playoffs, possibly three depending on how deep the team makes a run into the playoffs. With Gil and Bou coming back, the hope is that he can find more space, and they will be able to create more opportunities.

Teal Bunbury has another consistent year for the Revolution. He ended up with the most goals on the team with 8. With Bou and Buksa finding form, he may find his role either on the substitutes bench or more out wide than as the false number nine. His form is good with two goals against DC, but he barely saw the ball against Philadelphia. His work rate will be extremely useful in the playoffs in either roll. I expect him to chip in with at least one goal, though if he gets hot, I could see him hitting 3 or 4 depending on the run in the playoffs.

Gustavo Bou is coming in off a hamstring injury that sidelined him for almost a month. With that, he finished the regular season with five goals. You could see the rust coming off against Philadelphia, so the Revolution are going to need him to find his form and his connection with Gil. IF he can get right, the Revolution will have a potent weapon amongst the goals.

Tajon Buchanan has improved over the year and become a significant threat out wide for the Revolution. He contributed two goals and two assists in the regular season. Buchanan tormented the opposition backs and as he grew in his role and confidence, especially after netting for the first time. I think that Bruce trusts him, and he will get starting minutes throughout the playoffs. He gives you such pace and attacking threat while working back, that combined with Teal on the other wing, you get good coverage.

Kekuta Manneh, a midseason addition of the Revolution, has shown some pace and added width when he has plaid. He has had two starts and six appearances over, and outside from the first two, he has shown good energy and helped create some issues out wide. Manneh and Buksa have developed a good connection with each other’s solitary assist coming for each other. Substitute to hopefully make a late-game impact and contributing with an assist or two.

Justin Rennicks could be an outlier in playoffs for the Revolution. His time down with Revolution II will have given him confidence in his abilities. While it did look at times to be men against boys, he got valuable minutes. While I am not sure if he will make the 19 in any of the playoff matches, he could be used as a late impact attack option for the Revolution.

What the Hell Am I About to Watch: Maple Syrup Derby

The Montreal Impact come into Gillette Stadium for the third Maple Syrup Derby of the 2020 season. Each team has come away with a victory so far this year, Montreal, on their home turf (or whatever you want to call that nightmare field) and New England down in Orlando for the MLS is Back tournament.

The opening game of the season was in the Olympic Stadium, where the Impact hosted the Revolution. The game ended in a 2 – 1 victory for Montreal, though the turf it was played on was a travesty. Teal Bunbury opened the scoring for the Revolution, with a beautiful volley off a Christian Penilla cross. The joy was short-lived as the Impact answered back with two goals sandwiched between a VAR reviewed disallowed goal for the Revolution.

The two teams lined up again in their opening match of the MLS is Back tournament, this time the Revolution came out with a 1 – 0 victory. Gustavo Bou supplied the goal this time, but the Revolution should have scored more. They completely outplayed the Impact, but a 95th minute save by Matt Turner was needed to hold onto to victory.

The Revolution come into this game off of an excellent performance against NYCFC. While they did not find the back of the net, many things showed potential. Montreal is coming off back to back losses, both of them ended with them down to ten men.

Nguyen’s Influence

Lee Nguyen was instrumental in the performance of the Revolution. His ability to see a pass and control the midfield helped the Revolution control the game. His passing vision also created some fantastic opportunities. With more time working with the attackers, the connection between Nguyen and Gustavo Bou could start to bear fruit for the Revolution. They almost got a goal, but Bou was called back for offsides against NYCFC, and his understanding with Bunbury created two excellent shooting opportunities. They were able to carve apart the Impact in Florida with Gil pulling strings; hopefully, Nguyen can step into those boots and create more of the same.

Polster Returns

Matt Polster returns from his one-game suspension from his red card. While Scott Caldwell filled in admirably, I think his return will give more freedom to whoever is playing the number 8 role or will allow for a formation change. Polster has become a key cog in the Revolution team. His performances have allowed for a more attacking threat from the midfield. This is due to his ability to provide cover in front of the backline. He will hopefully allow Nguyen and McNamara more time in the attacking third.

Defensive Solidity

While Matt Turner has continued to be a rock at goalkeeper, the defense has also improved. Though some of the recent score lines may not show it (mainly the two against Philadelphia), the Revolution defense is better than it has been in recent years. It has allowed this team to continue to be in games while struggling to find the back of the net. Henry Kessler has had a rookie fo the year performance this season and is on track to become one of the best defenders in MLS. If they can continue to gel and improve, this can only mean good things for the Revolution.

Expected Eleven

I do not expect wholesale changes from the squad that started on Saturday. The main difference I foresee is Matt Polster to come in for Scott Caldwell.

4-2-3-1

One Final Note

Our Maple Syrup is Better than Yours, and don’t forget it.

What The Hell Did I Watch Redux

Twenty days ago, New York City FC came up to Gillette Stadium and ran the Revolution off the pitch (if you want to see the fallout from that, see my previous post). Today, the complete opposite happened. While the result is a frustrating 0 – 0 draw between the two clubs, there was a marked improvement seen by the Revolution.

Forwards, Take What Improvement You Can?

In one game, the Revolution increased their shots on goal by 30%. They put 7 of their 14 shots on frame, converting to a 50%. This marked an improvement over their season average going into this game of 27.33% or 41 out of their 150 shots. While the goals were not there, sometimes we need to take the victories where we can. They also had three goals called back for offsides, putting the totals to 10 for 17. Sean Johnson did make a couple of good saves to keep his shutout, but there were times when you could feel them coming together.

Gustavo Bou seemed to enjoy the freedom of not feeling like the entire offensive creation was on his shoulders. You can tell that he is more comfortable with Lee Nguyen on the field, helping to provide passes over the top and into the channels for him to run onto. While the timing was slightly off, you could already see the forming idea that should lead to goals. He did find the back on the net twice, both from an offside position, but catching the ball in the net for those was reassuring since, in recent times, those shots have been wide.

Teal Bunbury was back where he provides more strength for the Revolution, out wide either left or right, in this case, left. His pace and work rate on the left-hand side, combined with the overlapping runs of Alex Buttner, gave the Revolution a robust attacking threat down that side. He also wen 2/2 for his shots being on goal. While this does end his streak of converting whenever he put a shot on target, he forced two good saves from Johnson, converted for an offside goal. He also had a 24 for 28 passing accuracies with the majority of those being medium passes. It also was good to see that he and Nguyen still have the connection they had back from their playing days together.

Tajon Buchanan seemed to find his confidence after scoring his first professional goal against Philadelphia. It made me very happy that Arena gave him the start, and he rewarded that confidence with a fantastic performance. His pace and power tormented the left side of the New York City defense, allowing to get off four shots, three of which were on target. He also had a goal called back for offsides, and his lone shot off-target was an audacious volley after chipping the ball up to himself. He also chipped in on the defensive side, working back hard for the team and helping Brandon Bye. The potential everyone saw when he was drafted 9th overall may finally be coming to bear.

Substitutes

Christian Penilla came in for Buchanon in the 77th minute to freshen up the legs against a tiring NYCFC backline. While his pace has always been apparent, he has struggled to succeed from the first half of the 2018 season. He is a very one dimensional predictable player at times, and his lack of shots on target 0-1 in this game showed why he had become a substitute. His pace should allow him to attack and create good chances to make a significant impact off the bench, but it was not there against NYCFC.

Adam Buksa had a cameo appearance coming in the 89th minute for Lee Nguyen. His lone shot attempt was blocked. Not much to be said except he put in a shift for the little time on the pitch.

Midfield

The arrivals of Tommy McNamara and Lee Nguyen have transformed the Revolution midfield into a formable attacking threat. This game may have seen a complete midfield performance across the board from the Revolution. Their ability to connect with the forwards while covering their defensive duties allowed for freedom in both the attack and stability in the defensive third. While they did not provide much of a shooting threat, only one total shot and not on goal will come with time and opportunities.

Lee Nguyen was the man of the match for most people, and rightfully so. In his return home to New England, he did not look like a player with a little over a hundred minutes under his belt. In his first start of the season for either club, he filled the void left by Carles Gil admirably. His forward vision allowed for the pressure to come off Gustavo Bou to be the leading creator and let them support each other. With time, the understanding between those two will blossom, but will there be enough of it to get them over the hump.

Tommy McNamara has continued to impress since his debut with the Revolution. His flexibility throughout the midfield has allowed him to rotate and cover where he has been needed. He continued to show his good passing vision and how well he can complement the attack. Playing as a number 8, he moved from box to box, covering most of the turf and trying to help Scott Caldwell as much as possible. His commitment to the team and being a team-first player is apparent since he has one assist and always looks for the pass before the shot.

Scott Caldwell stepped into the void created by the Matt Polster red card against Philadelphia gracefully. He patrolled in-front of the back four with his usual grit and tenacity. Caldwell got stuck in primarily in the defensive third with four successful tackles in 5 attempts, three of which came in the defensive third. His four successful tackles were the most on the team. Caldwell also had the second most completed passes combined with the second-highest competition percentage, which is good to see from the DCM.

Substitutions

Kekuta Manneh is still an enigma to me. It was also a substitution I did not understand but more on that later. This was his second run out as a Revolution player but felt like a slightly more polished version of Christian Penilla at times. His one opportunity came late in the match when he had the chance on a rebound, but instead of corralling and giving himself a second, he lashed out and put it out for a throw-in. While he has limited time, Buchanon’s emergence will limit his time on the pitch, so he needs to maximize his opportunities.

Kelyn Rowe had his typical solid substitute appearance. Coming in for McNamara, he continued to show his evolution into a reliable number 8. He continued in the same vein as McNamara, consistently closing down while trying to get into the attack. Just a solid day at the office for Kelyn.

Defense

The Revolution defense continued to be the bright spot of the Revolution this season. The addition of Alexander Büttner on the left flank has solidified the position while adding attacking flair to the left-back role. Henry Kessler continues to be a rock in the backline, playing well beyond his years. While the Revs have allowed some goals in recent matches, the breakdowns have been far less than we saw the past couple of years.

Alexander Büttner continued to prove he was a worthy investment for the Revolution this offseason. There may have been some who were worried about his acquisition due to his lack of game time in the past year. His crossing and attacking threat have added to the Revolution, while his defensive prowess has helped Kessler and solidified a position that had not felt filled since the ACL injury to Chris Tierney. Also, he is a welcome addition on set pieces offering a viable left-footed threat. Buttner’s class was on display against NYCFC, where most of their more prominent attacks were down the right side of our defense.

Brandon Bye continues to show improvement, completing the most passes against NYCFC. While his accuracy was only 70.3 percent, he provided deadly crosses that need to be attacked. He also had a 100% successful tackle rate, all coming in the defensive third. The more profitable ventures forward for NYCFC did come down his side. His recovery speed to ensure he can track back from any small mistakes made. He and Buchanan combined extremely well both offensively and defensively. I hope this becomes a successful partnership for the Revolution in the years to come.

Andrew Farrell continued to be solid since his move to center back in the middle of last season. While injury’s pressed him into the position, he was drafted as a CB coming out of Louisville. He has developed a very good relationship with Kessler. Also, his movement to center back has made the backline less error-prone than in recent years. Except for the last match against NYCFC, he has not put a foot wrong this season.

Henry Kessler continues to show why he was the first defender taken in the draft. He has also become a rock in-front of Matt Turner, shoring experience beyond his years as a professional. I believe he has learned from the veterans in Delamea and Büttner from the first game in Montreal, he has shown an outstanding ability to read the play. His passing from the back has helped evolve the Revolution. If he does not even get a look in for Rookie of the Year, it is a joke.

Goalkeeper

Not much to say, except Matt Turner being Matt Turner.

Matt Turner continued his excellent season with a four save shutout. If there is one complaint, it is that his distribution was not up to his new standard. But that’s nitpicking.

Manager

Bruce Arena has shown that he has the knowledge to set up a team. some of his substitutions have not made sense this season. I do not get why he brought in Manneh over Buksa when needing a goal. While I understand the frustration with Buksa he still should have been given more time on the pitch. With the crosses that Bye was putting in and Lee Nguyen being able to thread balls through the lines, it would have been nice to give him a shot. Hopefully, Arena also saw Rennick’s movement and goal for Revs II.

What The Hell Am I Going to Watch Revs NYCFC Edition

New England Revolution v NYC FC

NYCFC comes back into Gillette stadium 18 days after embarrassing the Revolution up and down the pitch. NYCFC outplayed them in every facet of the game and left Revs fans wondering what this team was made of. Not only is this a measuring stick for the Revolution and a proving point to the fans that they are not the team that showed up against NYCFC at home, but this team needs to get some revenge. They need to make a statement of intent to the rest of the east. Getting a victory over NYCFC would go along way to proving they can challenge the larger threats in the East. With Inter Miami’s recent signing of Gonzolo Higuain, they have all the competition they can handle for an eastern conference title. Laying a marker down will be crucial to not only the fans but the rest of the league.

Looking for some Goals

A fair amount has rightfully been saying about the Revolution attack. It has been lackluster at best this season. Since returning from the MLS is back tournament, the Revs have had 75 total shots in 6 games. While that averages out to slightly over 12 shots per game, they have only had 20 shots on target. That is a 26.67% accuracy rate. From those 20 shots, they have scored a total of 6 goals. The 6 goals converts to a 30% conversion rate, which while some may find that comforting if that number gets closer to a 50% conversion, maybe some of those draws turn into wins. Teal Bunbury is your leading scorer with 4 goals, and if they want to compete, they need to get everyone clicking. Tajon Buchanon is coming off an excellent performance against Philadelphia, hoping he gets the start over Penilla.

Adam Buksa has struggled to get off the mark, but when you go back and look at the beginning of the season, he scored on his home debut, and while not scoring a goal in Montreal, he looked more in sync with his teammates. Out of anyone on this team, I think the COVID break hurt his progress the most. He looks out of sorts and needs time to settle. I do believe Rennicks being on loan with Revs II should give him confidence that Bruce Arena believes in him. Buksa needs not only to find his confidence but better service.

As I have said before in a previous post, I believe the acquisition of Lee Nguyen could be the key to unlocking the Revolution attack. In his limited time against Philadelphia, he looked extremely comfortable already and looked like he was trying to command the ball’s play. I think his vision and ability to control the flow of play will not only free up Gustavo Bou but also help Buksa with his ability to get the ball in behind for Buksa to run onto.

Filling the Gap

Matt Polster has been a revelation since coming over from Rangers, and the Revolution will need to fill the void created by his red card from last week’s game against the Union. My thought is that Scott Caldwell will come in for him, and while he has the skill to play the holding midfielder, he needs to show the nerve and get stuck in. NYCFC can be a creative team through the midfield, so he will have to ensure he breaks up the play.

Kelyn Rowe will also most likely be called upon to add the metal to midfield. He has been relishing this role as a box to box number 8, but he will need to sit a little more in this match. Rowe has the speed to cover the runs into the box from NYCFC like he did early against Philadelphia. Looking at the rest of the roster, you could see Tommy McNamara dropping into the 8 role opening up a slot in for Nguyen into the starting line up.

Defensive Stability

The Revs backline has finally had some solid stability this year. There have been some worrying moments in recent weeks, but I expect some astute defending for a full week to prepare. The combination of Buttner, Kessler, Farrell, and Bye has found good communication and resolute defending. Kessler has been everything and then some from what was promised out of the 4th overall pick. Having a rookie of the year campaign, he seems to be the draft class so far. His covering, speed, and reading of the game shows the amount up upside this young defender has, and here is to hoping that he gets cap tied by the US national team soon. They need to show the resoluteness seen in the MLS is Back Tournament again, and without Maxi Moralez, the task should hopefully be more comfortable.

Goalkeeping AKA Best Player on the Pitch

The only place that the Revolution will always have the best player on the field is in the net. Matt Turner is the best goalkeeper in MLS. His reactionary saves and overall reading of the game have always been good, but this year, his area’s distribution and command have grown in leaps and bounds. His height is slightly on the average side for a goalkeeper (I’m as tall as he is, if not a hair taller), his catching ability and command of his box now, through instructions and keeper calls, are louder than ever. Turner is the only week in and week out consistent performer for the full 90 this season for the Revolution, including the previous game against NYCFC.