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.
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.