Revolution Attacking Midfielders
Following the breakdown of the Revolution’s depth at forward, the attacking midfield for the Revolution has solid depth going into the 2021 season.
Overall the attacking midfielders in 2020 for the Revolution contributed five goals and six assists. Only two of the goals are returning to the lineup this season, but they return four of the six assists. The Revolution decided to part ways with ten-year club veteran Diego Fagundez, now in Austin. They also did not resign Kelyn Rowe and mid-season acquisitions Lee Nguyen and Kekuta Manneh.
The Revolution will return a healthy Carles Gil for the 2021 regular season and develop Canadian phenom Tajon Buchanan and Tommy McNamara. In those players, the Revolution has a solid core returning in these roles. They did add depth with Emmanuel Boateng but are hoping to have found significant pieces in Wilfrid Kaptoum and Icelandic international Arnór Traustason. I am again looking at these players in last name alphabetical order.
Emmanual Boateng’s 2020 season began in DC and ended in Columbus and an MLS Cup Championship. After not appearing for DC, he was traded to Columbus on August 14 as a depth piece. For Columbus, he made ten appearances with three starts and played a total of 328 minutes. Due to his role, Boateng had zero goals and assists in his game time.
Boateng joins the Revolution hungry for another title and playing time. Looking for more game time in 2021, Boateng rejoined with his former coach from LA, Bruce Arena. While he has never been a prolific goalscorer, his best seasons were with Arena in Los Angeles in statistics and playing time. His integration into the team should be easy as he is familiar with Arena’s expectations and system. Boateng’s passing has always been a significant attribute. With the strength in front of him, he should be looking to cement a role.
My expectation for Boateng is to be an impact off the bench while getting some starts. He is a main depth piece on the wing for the Revolution. As seen in the pre-season, his pace is lethal and will significantly threaten the counter. He has bagged one goal this pre-season as well as an assist. I could see him bagging around five goals and three to four assists from the little video seen.
Buchanan’s 2020 season, while not a statistical breakout season, was a tremendous jump for the youngster. In his sophomore season, Buchanan supplied two goals and assists in the campaign with a 40% accuracy for his shooting. Where Buchanan excelled was his defensive work rate, winning 33 tackles. Of those tackles, 23 allowed the Revolution to retake possession. He was deployed as a right-back in the playoffs through necessity, and these qualities came to the forefront. Adding a goal and keeping Nani in his back pocket Buchanan set himself up for an impactful role.
2021 will be a significant turning point in Buchanan’s young career. Revolution fans will be expecting to see him continue to grow into the full box-to-box winger he has shown he can be. With the rumored European interest, all eyes will be looking at his development this coming season. With the incoming addition of Traustason pushing him for minutes, he will need to take the bull by the horns and work to keep his starting spot.
From what was seen at the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifiers, Buchanan is ready for the challenges this season. With more tape on him, there will be new challenges, but I believe he will succeed. With his pace and ability to get behind the defense and stretch the field width, Buchanan should get into good positions to create chances for himself and his teammates. I am expecting six to ten goals and four to six assists this season.
2020 will mainly be a year to forget for Carles Gil. Coming off Newcomer of the Year honors for his 2019 season with the Revolution, the talismanic creative midfielder had an injury-plagued season. Coming into the pre-season, Gil was sidelined with a foot/ankle injury and missed the opening two games of the season. After returning for a spectacular performance against Montreal in the MLS is Back tournament, Gil was removed after 61 minutes for another injury. After surgery on his left ankle, Gil returned and helped the Revolution make a deep playoff run. He provided two goals and four assists in the playoffs, showing again what he means to this club.
Gil will be looking to find the rhythm he had with his teammates in the 2019 season and the 2020 playoffs in the 2021 season. Due to his outstanding vision and creativity, Gil has shown he can be one of the best playmakers in MLS. He will be hoping to find this spark again and lead this Revolution team from the front. Gil has already shown his connection with Bou was not a fluke. If his relationship with Buksa continues to grow and he can integrate with the new pieces, the Revolution attack will be something to fear.
I expect to see great things from Carles Gil in 2021. Gil’s dynamic playmaking ability combined with his vision and decisiveness is a lethal combination. Having a solid supporting team around him only makes Gil more dangerous as it means defenses can not only focus on him. I expect him to be the first or second name on the team sheet each match, though, with a packed schedule, he may start some games from the bench. I expect him to reach the same heights, if not better than 2019, with double-digit goals and assists.
Wilfred Kaptoum comes to the Revolution on a free transfer after an abbreviated season with Almería in Segunda División. In eight appearances with the club, six of which were starts, Kaptoum had zero goals and assists. While he did manage 529 minutes, he only had three off-target shots. While his passing numbers are not known for last season, he averaged an 85.8 pass completion percentage with Betis.
2021 with the Revolution is extremely important for Kaptoum. After having several injury-plagued seasons, Kaptoum will be looking to prove not only those issues are behind him but his capabilities. Historically looking at a good passer Kaptoum has the potential to help ease the creative burden on Gil. This also bodes well for the late game situation in closing out a match. He will be eager to get on the pitch and make a good impression on the fan base.
With his lack of playing time in the pre-season, I have no clue what to expect from Kaptoum. Due to the main reason being a slight injury while he is in training, this worries me. For a player with a history of injuries to feel something in pre-season is worrisome. I expect to see Kaptoum to receive game time with Rev II to get match fit. But until I see him on the field, I have no clue what his 2021 season will look like for the Revolution.
2020 was a debut season for Damien Rivera as a professional. Spending the entire year with Revolution II, Rivera was a key cog starting nine games and featuring in fourteen of the sixteen games. During his time on the field, Rivera contributed two goals and one assist. Rivera was brought up and trained with the first-team after the USL League 1 season ended in 2020. He did not make the bench in the playoffs.
2021 will be a developmental season for Rivera. Spending his second pre-season with the first two will help his confidence and growth. The speedy winger will need to increase his goal and assist numbers for Revolution II this season. While the potential is there, he needs to continue to mold himself into the player that the Revolution believes he will become.
Rivera needs to play at his age and will primarily be a focal point in the Revolution II line-up. While he may get some chances with the first team, especially if they make the US Open Cup, I do not see many minutes due to the Revolution’s depth. I expect to see him thrive in the USL League One. To make the next step to the first team, he needs to start dominating and bullying the opposition.
Arnór Traustason arrived to the Revolution off the back of the league winning season with Malmö FF in the Allsvenskan. In 20 league appearances, 11 starts, Traustason had one goal and two assists, down from his seven goals and nine assists the season prior. The Allsvenskan has a summer schedule which will helpt Traustation adapt to the league. The three-time league winner brings championship knowledge as well as a wealth of international experience. The Icelandic international has five goals and one assist in 36 appearances.
2021 should be an exciting season for Traustason. His capability as a left-winger will bring a balance to the Revolution attack. His arrival also brings competition in the wide positions, pushing the incumbent players to attempt to hold their starting positions. Due to the upcoming European Championships in the summer, Traustason will be trying to confirm his spot with the Icelandic national team. This extra drive should help the Revolution, though it may cost them during the Championships. Traustason recently supplied his first assist for the Icelandic national team during the last round of World Cup Qualifiers.
Due to the need to adapt to a new league, I am tampering my expectations for Traustason. Also, with the expected time away due to the European Championships, he may lose some game time. His pace has always been a threat for the opposition, and as a right-footed left-winger can cut in and create good opportunities for both himself and his teammates. I hope to see him get five to eight goals and similar assist numbers this season.