Pre-season has begun! I decided to look at the current roster, full for one of the first time in years coming into a pre-season and make some comments. I am doing this analysis in segments to make my life easier.
Goaltending is one area that the Revolution does not have many worries. Depth is reliable, and with the continued development of Turner, the Revolution has one of the best up and coming goalkeepers in MLS who should be challenging for at least the backup spot on the national team.
Matt Turner – One forgets that Matt Turner is heading into his 5th season as a professional. In 2018 Turner came out of nowhere to win the starting job, and in the past two years has proven he deserves to be the number one goalkeeper. In 47 starts, Turner posted a 16-14-16 record with ten shutouts, and 170 saves as well an outstanding -13.94 goals against-expected goals against. Finished 5th in the Goalkeeper of the Year voting, and I will continue to believe he should have won this award. Turner earned his first and second call up the national team in November and January, respectively, and has a bright future. I am expecting him to be the number 1.
Brad Knighton – Entered 2019 as the starter and proceeded to lose his job to Cody Cropper and eventually Matt Turner. Knighton is a good solid MLS keeper, who can make excellent saves. He did well when he needed to come in for Turner rest or fill in due to red card. He ended the season with an overall record of 1-3-4, with 13 goals conceded in 7 starts and eight games. The average of almost two goals a game is not the greatest. Still, when you look at the majority of his time being the goalie for Brad Friedel and a horrendously unmotivated team, it is better than expected. I expect him to be the back up again, or might be a trade piece.
Jeff Caldwell – Enters this season a significant unknown in the Revolution hierarchy of goalkeepers. The former UVA goalkeeper fits the mold as a player Bruce Arena may use as a backup. Coming off a season on loan at Memphis 901, which he started 28 games, I could see him either being the started for the USL Development team or challenging for that backup role for the first team. General states in the USL 28 games started, six shutouts, 42 goals allowed, 1.5 GPG, 79 saves, and a 65.28% save percentage. The numbers are not the greatest, but anything is possible through hard work, as proven by Turner.
The Revs brought in three new defenders to add to the most glaring part of the squad last year. I do think injuries helped cause these issues, as continuity was not always there for the backline. I am expecting improvement this year, not only with the new signings but with everyone bought in at the start of the season.
Brendan Bye – Ended last season as the starting right back. Due to injuries early on in the season and issues in central defense, he earned his role when Andrew Farrell moved into a central position. Bye ended up playing and starting 30 games in the regular season. In those games, he produced two goals and two assists. He has the speed for recovery when he overexposes himself by being over-ambitious in a tackle but overall a solid year under his belt. Needs to improve on his crossing, but having more of a target man in the box this season should help. If Farrell stays in a central role, would expect him to be the starter, if Farrell moves back to RB, then anything is possible.
Antonio Mlinar Delamea – 17 games and 16 starts in his third season with the Revolution. Missing a significant amount of time to a hamstring injury, Delamea still helped lead the defense to 6 clean sheets in his 17 games (The team only had six clean sheets). Delamea also contributed with two goals and one assist in his 17 games. For a central defender who is mainly forward on corners and set-pieces, I think this is a good haul, especially since the corners and set-pieces last season. While at times he lacks closing speed, he was the best reader of the game in the backline last year. I feel like he should get a shot at the starting CB role going into this season, but again that might be my personal choice.
Andrew Farrell – 29 games played and started in 2019, covering both right back and center back. After starting the year at the right-back position, Farrell ended up being needed back in his original position (seriously look it up, he was a converted right back). He helped the team to 6 clean and contributed 132 clearances and 37 interceptions. He chipped in on the offensive side with one assist. Farrell was a rock in the center of defense for the Revolution. Due to injuries to the central defenders, he was moved over and formed multiple solid partnerships with both the departed Anibaba and Delamea. He may be moved back to RB but has earned a spot in the starting eleven.
DeJuan Jones – In his rookie season with the Revolution, Jones became a surprise left-back starter. He did share time between left midfield and left-back though out the season. Playing in a total of 20 games with 14 of them being starts, contributed one goal and one assist throughout the regular season. While his forays into the offensive third were not always fruitful, another player who needs work on his crossing, his defensive work needs growth. His speed was one of his greatest assets and will continue to serve him well. While he was a starter in the playoff game and had a good match, I think he ends up either being pushed into the midfield or right-back coverage.
Michael Mancienne – 2019 was marred with a foot injury that never seemed to escape him. Mancienne played in 16 matches, starting 13 of those, and part of me wants to give him a clean start. The more significant issue is the 26 game sample over two years has yet to be the greatest for him. He looked like Again, maybe it was injury issues that sidelined him for the majority of the season, and this will be a different player this year. He has the experience to be a good defender in MLS, but I am still looking for that to be realized. I expect him to be in the 18 week in and week out and challenging for a starting spot.
Alexander Büttner – One of the notable additions to this squad and a welcome one. Experienced left-back who looks up for the challenge of the MLS. I am looking forward to seeing what he can produce down the left flank for the Revolution. While he did not play much for Vitesse in recent seasons, but in the past has shown a willingness to work, and again the experience in the different league will be a blessing in the long run. I think he will be starting the left-back opening day.
Seth Sinovic – MLS veteran, left-back. Comes in from Sporting KC, where he has had a very successful nine seasons. Sinovic has four titles to his name, one MLS Cup and 3 US Open Cups. The playoff and MLS experience will be a nice additional piece to not only help teach the young developing defenders’ backs but having the knowledge and experience to come in and cover and know what is expected of him. I think he will make the 18 most weeks but is mainly going to be a cup and rotational player.
Henry Kessler – 6th overall draft pick in the 2020 MLS Superdraft. He was the player the Revolution wanted. Rumors were around that they were trying to trade up to get him, and as it never happened, we won’t know. Coming into camp, I put him at the bottom of the depth chart for CB, but with the Samba news from earlier this week, I expect him to see good minutes with the 1st team this year. UVA grad and coming through a program with a coach that Arena trust to develop talent. Another plus is he is listed at 6’4″ which makes him the tallest defender on the squad. While I have not seen much tape on him, there are high expectations. I expect him to be with the 1st team most of the time, but if he needs minutes, there is always the option of going and playing with Revs II every once and awhile.