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.
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.