MLS SuperDraft 2021: Revolution 1st Pick To Senior Team, Path For Later Picks

MLS SuperDraft 2021 At A Glance

This year, the 2021 MLS SuperDraft consists of 176 eligible college soccer players. The COVID-19 pandemic has made this year interesting for draft prospects due to the lack of games for safety sake. The ACC and SEC were the only college regions to go ahead and play some games this past year. That shortens the list to 39 players who were able to show their skill and talent in competitive soccer in 2020. Out of the players eligible, there are 56 defenders, 51 midfielders, 50 forwards and 19 goalkeepers. The Revolution organization saw one of those players early and contracted defender Michael DeShields from Wake Forest to Revolution II. The MLS recently announced two more signings of MLS Generation Adidas contracts, climbing that number to a total of five. Daniel Pereira , Calvin Harris, Philip Mayaka, Bret Halsey and Ethan Barlow are the names that grace that list.

Speaking of Generation Adidas…

For the Revolution, the past two years of the MLS SuperDraft and Generation Adidas contracts have gone a long way. New England drafted both Henry Kessler last year and Tajon Buchanan in 2019. We have all seen the talent and great play that those two players bring to the Revolution. A few more in the past decade, Teal Bunbury (with Kansas City Wizards), Andrew Farrell and recently out-of-contract Kelyn Rowe. Looking back, there aren’t many years that the Revolution didn’t pick a player on a Generation Adidas or Project-40 contract. Some players of great importance on that list are Clint Dempsey, Rusty Pierce, Shaker Asad, Jamar Beasley and there are many others.

Positions Of Need For The Revolution

As it stands for New England, there are 22 players contracted to the team out of a total possible of 30. For the Revolution II team, they only have 14 players contracted to the team, with a total possible of 30 as well. The USL League One doesn’t have very many roster rules like the MLS does. Currently, the only real restriction is capping international spots at seven. Obviously, the USL League One team has some holes to fill. It is very likely that the second and third round draft picks that the senior team hold go to Revs II. Those picks currently sit at the 51st and 78th overall, both the 24th pick in their respective rounds.

I’d like to think that the 51st and 78th spots go to forwards for Revolution II. They only have two players contracted to the team who play up front. One of which is a winger, a position which the senior team is lacking depth in as the roster currently stands. The 1st round, 24th pick for me, is slated to go to a defender, whether it’s a center back or wing back. There is a great selection of defenders in the draft. In total, there are around 50 or more draftees in each position besides goalkeeper.

Top 3 Players For The First Round Pick

For me, the glaring need is a center back, but I can also see a wing-back being used for the spot. I personally think SBI has got this one wrong having him go in the 2nd round. For my third player, I would choose left-back Musa Qongo from Creighton University. He is a speedy, wing back with the ability to make pinpoint crosses. His assists with Creighton should have been much higher in 2019, as he was hitting players with an amazing accuracy. He also makes great moves to be able to open up midfielders for creative runs into the box. Also, for an extra connection to the Revolution, his coach at Creighton was none other than midfielder Johnny Torres. Torres has been in the coaching team for his alma mater since 2007.

My 2nd choice, for the 1st round draft pick, I go after Justin Malou, 5 foot, 11 inches of a full back from Clemson University. He’s versatile in the fact that he can move from right back to center back. He would be considered a shadow for Andrew Farrell. Very athletic and great passing skills, he would be a player you could count on to make tackles and aerial duels as well.

My 1st choice for the 1st round pick would be 6 foot, 2 inches of a striker in Luther Archimede, from Syracuse. Archimede is an international player who has experience from France with Sochaux’s second team. He also is consistently getting U-20 and now senior call-ups from Guadaloupe’s national team. He scored 4 goals in 16 appearances with Syracuse and 6 goals in five appearances with Guadaloupe’s U-20 team. If we’re going after a forward who isn’t likely to go in the top 15, this is our player. He’s an extremely aggressive player, always ready to put his body on the line for a goal.

Welcome A.J DeLaGarza

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Many thanks to fbref.com for making gathering these stats easier. Please check them out! Featured Image credit: LA Galaxy v Colorado Rapids at StubHub Center on September 5, 2014 in Carson, CA. Photo by Mora/LA Galaxy.

The New England Revolution recently announced the signing of versatile veteran defender AJ DeLaGarza. The 33-year-old veteran of the league for 12 seasons has made his career at both center-back and right-back.

Teal Bunbury and AJ DeLaGarza MLS Cup Final Dec. 7, 2014 Photocredit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

DeLaGarza comes to the Revolution after what to him will be a disappointing 2020 season where he played and started in 6 games for expansion side Inter Miami. In those six games, Inter Miami had a record of 3-0-3, though the play-in round loss to Nashville may have been more of a lack of first-team attackers than anything else. Overall in those six appearances, including the playoffs, DeLaGarza played 516 minutes, going the full 90 in 5 of the six games. While he did not score any goals or assist this season, he did have an 84.8 percent passing completion percentage. Defensively DeLaGarza completed 6 of 11 tackle attempted and made eight blocks, 5 of which were shot blocks. He was also on the field for the full 90 of 1 of their three clean sheets, and the only victory when keeping the back end clean.

AJ DeLaGarza began his career with the LA Galaxy after being the 19th overall pick in the 2009 MLS Super Draft and spent the following nine seasons within the Galaxy’s organization. He amused a nice trophy collection as a prominent figure in the 2011, 2012, and 2014 MLS Cup Championships. In his eight seasons with the Galaxy, he amassed 204 appearances, of which 196 were starts, contributing two goals and four assists. In both 2011 and 2014, he started 4 of the playoff matches; in the playoff success to 2014, he added an assist. Revolution fans will remember him going 120 minutes in that final against them and keeping the Revolution offense at bay for the majority of the match.

2014 MLS Cup Final: LA Galaxy final training session at StubHub Center on December 6, 2014 in Carson, CA. Photo by Mora/LA Galaxy.

DeLaGarza departed the Galaxy for the Houston Dynamo in a trade in January of 2017. He spent three seasons with the team, and while healthy, was a crucial piece in the Dynamo backline. In the seasons that DeLaGarza was healthy, he had 57 appearances and 57 starts for the club. DeLaGarza’s 2018 season was shortened due to recovery from an ACL injury at the end of the 2017 season. Still, he was back and on the bench for the 2018 US Open Cup Final victory over the Philadelphia Union.

In a defense depth move by the Revolution, AJ DeLaGarza gives this team a veteran defender. With the experience he brings from 12 years in the league, DeLaGarza provides the Revolution with an experienced option. For the entirety of his time in LA, he has already worked with Bruce Arena, bringing in someone who will be familiar with the coaches playing style and expectations. His previous work with Arena will allow for an easier time acclimating to the group and scheme. New England is also getting a proven winner, who knows what it takes to get over the finish line, with his 3 MLS Cups and 1 US Open Cup.

I think having someone with DeLaGarza’s knowledge can only help the young Revolution defenders from a development side. Henry Kessler had an outstanding rookie campaign, but where he goes in his sophomore year can only improve by having more people to help him learn. Similarly, Brandon Bye and Tajon Buchanan can both learn from DeLaGarza’s experience at right-back. Buchanan is still developing his knowledge of the position, and while Brandon Bye is quite sound on the defensive side, he could use some assistance going forward.

With the lack of playing time and lack of opportunities in Miami, DeLaGarza has a chip on his shoulder to prove that he still can offer something to a club. While 2020 was an interesting season with the Covid break, DeLaGarza would have expected more playing time when signing with Miami. While he may not come straight into the side, if he works hard, he can challenge for the starting position at right-back and possibly push Buchanan back up on the wing.

Since joining the club, DeLaGarza has made a fantastic first impression with the fanbase. He has done nothing but show support and understand the club’s history in his social media posts. From his welcome message, including the two supports ground, The Midnight Riders and The Rebellion, to arriving in Boston quickly after signing to get incorporated in the team sooner. Finally, possibly one of the classiest gestures, DeLaGarza, who has routinely worn the number 20 throughout his career, informed the Revolution community that he needs to find a new one due to what that number has meant club for his time with the Revolution. Everything he has said is nothing more than pure class from DeLaGarza, making me want to see him succeed even more.

Well Deserved Call Up

A brief preface before dive into the numbers for these two guys. The statistical information gathered is from a website called fbref.com. They are wonderful and made my life extremely easier to put my thoughts together and back them up with statistics. Please visit them if you have any interest in soccer statistics.

Affectionately known as Camp Cupcake, the January USA Men’s National Soccer Team training camp roster was announced today, and two members of the New England Revolution’s squad were selected. In the senior team, goalkeeper Matt Turner received his 3rd call up into camp, and rookie phenom Henry Kessler got called into the U-23 camp. While both players will be looking for their first appearances for the national team, Matt Turner should be starting in net for the match against Serbia’s rumored opponent. Kessler may see the field but with other strong defenders in camp has less of a chance.

Matt Turner’s 2020 was another year to remember for the Revolution’s number one. After a disappointing start to the season with the 2-1 loss to the Montreal Impact, Turner picked up a slight knee injury. Starting in the MLS is Back tournament, Turner made many game-changing saves throughout the season. The main one everyone remembers due to proximity is the penalty save over Nani in the MLS Playoffs with the Revolution lead at 2-1, but Turner always seems to come up with the big save when needed. Looking at his statistics this past year, Turner had a 75.5 save percentage, good for top 5 in MLS. His goals allowed versus goals expected to conceded was a +8.2 the top in MLS, which means he allowed fewer goals than expected, and his passing, while not notable, was at 70.6% up from 63.2% the previous year. The other noticeable change was the command of the 18-yard box. Something that we could hear a lot more due to lack of crowds was Turner’s yelling at his defenders and organizational strategies. He looked more at home, telling them where to be and what he expected from them. Finally, as Matt Doyle said earlier this year, he would have had Turner starting over the current number one Zac Stefen, sooo eat your hearts out.

Henry Kessler’s rookie season was one that has Revolution fans drooling with anticipation to see how he can develop into his sophomore season. While Kessler was not projected to be a starter coming into camp by most pundits, including myself, injuries thrust him into Montreal’s spotlight, and he never looked back. Even in his rookie season, Kessler never looked out of place in the MLS. He had a poise and confidence about him that showed in his gameplay. Kessler contributed one goal in his rookie season and no assists while having an 85.2 passing completion percentage. On the defensive side of things, Kessler finished the season with the 3rd best in MLS successful pressures at 44.3 percent and 5th in MLS in clearances with 124. He completed 27 tackles in 35 attempts, which is just a shade under 80%. In what should have been a rookie of the year season, MLS changed the award. Kessler stabilized the Revs’ backline and became one of the most critical players on the field every match.

Going into the US National Team camp is an excellent opportunity for both of these players to further their careers and develop more skills. This can only be seen as a good thing for the Revolution in terms of success in the coming 2021 season.

EFL Championship Pro/Rel Mid-Season Predictions

Most teams in the EFL Championship (England Division 2) are now at the half way point in their seasons, or 1 game away from it.  Here are my way too early predictions for promotion and relegation with a small explanation on each.

The 3 Clubs Being Promoted To The English Premier League

1) Norwich City (14-5-4) 47 points

Norwich is top of the championship at the moment by 4 points over 2nd placed Swansea (also played 23 games).  In the Premier League just last season, they know what it takes to get back up there and the level at which they need to play to hopefully stay up should they make it back up there.  Currently 5th in the league in goals scored and tied for 5th in goals allowed, Norwich is well rounded enough to maintain their #1 spot and gain automatic promotion.

2) Brentford (11-8-3) 41 points

Brentford currently sit 2 points back of 2nd place Swansea with a game in hand.  Last season, it seemed a sure thing they would be promoted, but West Bromwich Albion outplayed them at the end of the season to secure auto promotion spot #2.  They would go on to lose to Fulham 2-1 in the promotion playoff final.  One of the higher scoring offenses in the Championship (36 goals), they don’t seem to be letting up any time soon.  Brentford have won 4 of their last 5 league games, and the 5th was a 1-1 draw with Watford on 12/15.  They seem to have all the pieces in place needed for promotion, and I think this is the season they execute on it and end up in the Premier League.

3) Watford (10-7-5) 37 points

Watford had an uncharacteristically dismal start to the season last year.  They ended up turning it around towards the end though, even handing Liverpool their 1st loss of the season (3-0 at Vicarage during week 28).  Unfortunately, it was too little too late, and Watford finished 2nd from the bottom and were relegated.  They’re one point ahead of Middlesbrough for the last promotion playoff spot at the moment.  They will have to gain promotion through the playoffs, but ultimately, Watford pulls it off and gets back to Premier League next season.

The Falling Three

1) Derby County (4-7-11) 19 points

Being a Rams fan, this one hurts me to type.  A revolving door of coaches (5 since March 2017) and the lowest scoring offense in the league (14 goals) are not doing Derby any favors.  In a season that started out very poorly, they have managed to put themselves in a position in which they are tied on points with Sheffield Wednesday for the “last team safe” spot, but are below them in 22nd place.  I think Derby County will make it an interesting second half of the year depending on who they make permanent head coach and sign to bolster the offense.  Ultimately, they will fall just short of the line and end up relegated to League One.

2) Wycombe Wanderers (3-6-14) 15 points

This is a club that I genuinely wanted to see do well. It is the Wanderers first season ever in the championship, and they have not been treated very well so far. They have allowed more goals than any other team in the league and seem overwhelmed in some of their games. Is Wycombe a bad club? No, absolutely not. I just think this isn’t their year. My prediction is they go back down to league one and we will see them come back to the championship in a year to 3 years and give the league a real run for its money.

3) Rotherham United (4-4-12) 16 points

Dating back 2 months to 11/7, Rotherham has 2 wins and 1 draw. 7 points in 2 months isn’t enough to get you out of the relegation zone in almost any league. They have won only 1 of their last 5 contests and next play Everton in FA Cup 3rd round on 1/9. This will not help build their confidence to where it needs to be to stay above the line. Unless something changes, and soon, Rotherham head right back down to league one next year.

Five Promising Outward Transfers For Revolution Players

Revolution Players That Create A Profit And Can Grow

As it stands currently, a few of the European and South American transfer windows are open. The Revolution have a few players of value and skill that would produce a transfer fee in leaving. Here’s five of them that I believe would produce the most ideal fee. As well as producing the most fee, these are the players that are most likely to grow from it. To be clear, I don’t mean that I’d be ok with these players leaving.

Carles Gil
Carles Gil, Transfer, maybe?
Credit: Revolution Communications

Gil is the most talented and creative of the five selected. Since joining the Revolution, Carles has shown his prowess on the ball. In 2019, he was in the top 5 in both, shot creating actions and goal creating actions. In 2020, Gil obviously was a huge part of the playoffs contention. He was injured for a good portion of the regular season in 2020, which I think would lower his profit, but definitely beats out most others on the team for value growth. Carles is such a versatile player, I think he would command a 4-5 million dollar transfer fee if he leaves.

Transfermarkt Market Value: 4.40 million dollars

Tajon Buchanan

Buchanan has grown by leaps and bounds since joining the team in 2019 from the 9th spot in the MLS Superdraft. In 2019, Tajon appeared in 10 games and started four. In 2020, he appeared in 23 and started in 11. Buchanan’s dribbling ability and vision of the game has created dangerous opportunities for the Revolution. He scored two goals and created two goals with assists this year for New England. Just recently in December, the Canadian national team called him up for their January training camp. For that reason, along with Bruce Arena finding a starting place for Tajon in his team, I find Tajon to be the player with the most value, beyond their formulated value. He might be valued at 2.20 million dollars, but I could see him leaving the team for 3-4 million sooner rather than later. His gamesmanship in the playoff games only created a higher value. He is only providing the team with profit and if he goes to a better league, he could grow exponentially.

Transfermarkt Market Value: 2.20 million dollars

Matt Turner

Turner has been a name in the mouth of MLS fans everywhere and statisticians love him. Matt has had two amazing years in 2019 and 2020, only cementing his position as the starting goalkeeper. He was nominated for the Goalkeeper of the Year in MLS again this year, for the second year in a row. He ended up getting beat out by Andre Blake this year. Comparing Blake to Turner, Turner was forced to make more saves than Blake this year and did it well. Matt’s shot stopping ability when a goal was for sure by normal standards was amazing. He topped the league in PSxG-GA (Post Shot expected goals minus goals against) at 8.2 goals saved that should have been definite goals. Beyond that, it’s expected that Turner will get a call up for the USMNT again soon after enjoying a training camp stay in 2019. His value may be 1.10 million, but if Zack Steffen can go to Man City for 7 million, then Turner can leave the MLS for 2-3 million as it stands. With USMNT 22nd in the National Team rankings, if he can get a game in and do well, his value will skyrocket for that reason.

Transfermarkt Market Value: 1.10 million dollars

Adam Buksa

Buksa had a year for the Revolution, scoring six goals and assisting one on a selfless pass. He had 23 shots on target, which he placed in 5th in the leaderboard for all of MLS. It didn’t quite follow up the years that he had at Pogoń Sczcezin before he came to the Revolution. For this reason, Adam’s value might be still hot but I think he’d be less of a commodity after the showing this year. He was however a huge part of the playoff wins which gives him a big boost. His ability to score on his own exists but he excels with a great playmaker. Europe would love to have him back at his consistent rate of scoring goals. His transfer value would allow him to go back to Europe for around 5 million as it stands. I think his chance to go to the Poland National team would have improved that transfer fee immensely if he got it.

Transfermarkt Market Value: 4.95 million dollars

Henry Kessler

Kessler had a great year for the Revs. He was third out of the entire league in successful pressures, completing 44 percent of his pushes against an attacker. He also was fifth in clearances making 124 in all matches in MLS. Henry’s defensive contributions helped the team while pressuring and making tackles. Kessler made successful tackles 35 times out of 44, making sure that backline was safe. He definitely deserves a look at for the USMNT but it won’t come as it stands. He will have to show out this year again and prove he deserves the call up. His 1 million dollar valuation is pretty simply it, he would get a million or two to an EFL League One, Championship team.

Transfermarkt Market Value: 1.10 million dollars

Thank You Diego

There has been one constant in the New England Revolution squad for the past ten seasons, number 14, Diego Fagundez. Sadly this changes going into the 2021 season. As of December 8, 2020, Diego Fagundez is no longer a Revolution player.

Fagundez signed as the first Home Grown Player for the Revolution in November of 2010. His first season with the Revolution saw limited time; as a 16-year-old, he had six total appearances, of which three were starting. In 316 minutes of action, he did bag two goals, making him the second-youngest goal scorer in MLS; he is now the 4th. He continued to show promising signs with increased minutes in 2012, same goals with two assists in 775 minutes before having his best statistical year in a Revolution uniform in 2013.

2013 saw Diego seized on his increased playing time, afforded him by head coach Jay Heaps. Fagundez showed tremendous growth during his time on the pitch. He finished the campaign leading the Revolution in goals with 13 and second in assists with 5. 2013 also saw Diego get his first playoff experience, going 180 minutes against Sporting KC, in the Conference Semi-Final loss. While 2014 saw a decrease in goals and assists, Fagundez was still an integral piece to the Revolution’s attack. Contributing five goals and four assists to the MLS Cup Runner-Up season, Diego was the second-highest scorer behind Lee Nguyen and tied for second on the team in assists.

2014 Eastern Conference Champion Celebrations. Photo Credit: Revolution Communications

The next three seasons, under the steady reigns of Jay Heaps, Fagundez saw the continuation of his regular playing time and found consistency in his statistics. In both the 2015 and 2016 seasons, he scored six goals, which kept him in the club’s top performers. He also compiled three and six assists, respectively. With a revamped offense and more settled in, Kai Kamara 2017 saw an increase in both Fagundez’s goals scored and assists as he scored and supplied 7.

2018 saw a new manager Brad Friedel come in for the released Jay Heaps and a more creative role of Diego with the eventual departure of Lee Nguyen. Combining well with speed from new winger Cristian Penilla and interchanging with the false nine of Teal Bunbury, Fagundez took the most of his opportunities. In possibly Diego’s most complete season in Revolution uniform, he scored nine goals and provided eight assists. He was proving himself to be a vital cog in the Friedel machine.

2019 brought changes and challenges to deal with. Incoming creative force Carles Gil took the number ten responsibilities from Diego. These changes pushed him out wide and brought him into a new role as a holding defensive midfielder. Combined with a mid-season change of management and the incoming of an additional attacking midfielder in Gustavo Bou, saw Fagundez’s time diminish and continued to see his role more focused as a holding midfielder. 2019 saw a downtick in his numbers, but Diego still contributed with two goals and three assists, his lowest totals since his second season in the league. 2020 was a weird year all around for most players, but Diego again saw his minutes diminish. Played more on the wing than through the creative outlet in the middle, Diego scored the only goal in the midfield during the regular season. On October 28, 2020, his final appearance against New York Red Bull was the 261st of his tieing him with another legend, Shalrie Joseph, for the club’s most regular-season appearances.

Diego at home vs Toronto Oct. 7, 2020. Second to last home appearance. Photo Credit: Revolution Communications

Diego Fagundez’s performances on the field for the club were always ones of effort. No matter the situation he was coming into for the game, he would always push and try to ensure the club a victory or strive to turn around a result. No matter what was going on off the field, he always put his heart and soul on the line for the club, and the fans understood, appreciate, and love him for it. His final stat line from his ten years at the club reads: 261 appearances, 186 starts, 53 goals, and 37 assists; not only for these stats but his drive and determination had him named to the Revolution All-Time 11 for the first 25 seasons, but also a club legend.

If his on-field accomplishments were not enough to cement his status as a club legend, what he has meant to the New England Revolution off the field firmly shows that he is a legend at this club. Being the first homegrown player signed by the Revolution, this gave local youth soccer players an example of what hard work could get you. He laid the groundwork for players like Scott Caldwell, Justin Rennicks, and Damien Rivera to have a pathway from the Academy to the first team. Diego always had time for the fans, especially the younger generation. He was one of the players who were available for pictures and autographs. His interactions with the younger fans, and his appreciation for the fans, made him a favorite and secured his status as a club legend.

On a personal note about all that can be said to Diego is thank you. Thank you for all the happy memories. Thank you for all the fun goal celebrations. Thank you for always giving your all on the pitch no matter what was going on. Thank you for always coming over to salute The Fort after any performance, good or bad, by the team. Thank you for bleeding for this club for ten years. Thank you for helping to show the youth that they could make it to the first. Finally, thank you for representing the club with the utmost professionalism during your time here. While parting can be a feeling of sorrow, wishing you nothing but success and happiness in your future endeavors. Hope to see you back in a Revolution kit. – Jeremy

I own somewhere around 100 kits, and typically I do not put names on them. For the two clubs I support, Chelsea and the Revolution, I have purchased three name sets and had them put on. For what Diego has meant to the club and what he has done off the field, I added him to what is currently looking like the final home kit he will have worn for the Revolution.

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.