Going into the 2022 season, the biggest question for the Revolution is can the Designated Players produce at the same level as last season. In 2021, 34 of the team’s 62 regular season goals came from the forwards. 31 came from the prolific attacking partners, Gustavo Bou and Adam Buksa. They also combined for eleven of the forwards’ twelve assists between them.
With Buksa being linked with a move away from the Revolution, there remain questions of how the goals will come. In the offseason, the Revolution lost Teal Bunbury (three goals and zero assists in 2021) to Nashville; his veteran leadership and work rate will be something they need to find.
Considering all of that, let’s look at the Revolution forwards going into the 2022 season. (Please note this will most likely be in alphabetical order)
Gustavo Bou rebounded from his poorer numbers in 2020 and evolved into a complete player in the 2021 season. After being primarily a false nine or attempting to use him as a ten in his previous two seasons, Arena helped finish his development. With his ability going forward, he improved his distribution. He also had more confidence in his strike partner throughout the 2021 season. While missing time due to injuries throughout the season, Bou made 30 appearances for the Revolution. Starting 25 times, he scored 15 goals and added nine assists. These totals were both career highs for Bou. When Gil was injured, he found himself more creative for the club, showing his growth since joining.
2022 is going to be an exciting year for Bou. After the best statistical year of his career in 2021, how can he improve upon these numbers? The additional games between the CONCACAF Champions League and US Open Cup matches remain to see how many rounds he plays. He also has dealt with injury issues the past two seasons, so if he can stay healthy and continue to find his rhythm with Buksa and Gil, this could be another record-breaking season. Having increased his shot accuracy from 33.3 percent to 37.1 percent from 2020 to 2021, the hope is that this raises, and he can continue his 42 percent goals scored from shots on target.
Bou is a crucial component to the Revolution’s success in 2022, and while the extra games to the schedule may push for fewer MLS starts, he will continue to be one of the first names on the team sheet game in and game out. With the additional trust of Buksa and the growth of his game in 2021, I expect high numbers again from Bou. I expect him to put in at least 14 goals and provide ten assists.
After a sluggish 2020, Adam Buksa rebounded with an excellent 2021. Growing from mainly a hold-up number nine to a complete attacker, Buksa led the Revolution with 16 goals while also providing three assists. Watching his growth from 2020 to 2021 was extremely fun to see. Not only did you see his confidence grow, but his enjoyment of the game seemed to be back. Again, part of this has to come down to his success, comfort, and familiarity with the team. His performances lead to him finally earning a call up to the Polish National Team for their World Cup qualifiers.
2022 should continue to see the growth we saw in 2021 for Buksa. If his confidence can stay where it was throughout 2021, the sky may limit what he can achieve in this upcoming campaign. It also is vital in terms of his personal goals. While he looks happy and settled with New England, he has been open about going back to Europe. If he can continue to have the attacking success that brought him into regular national team contention, he will garner even more attention than has already happened this past window. He looks ready to bully the opposition backlines from the two preseason games. While he may not be here for the entire season, the Revolution looks to be in for a treat.
I have high expectations for Buksa this season. He has come into the preseason with a purpose and seems to have spent this offseason working hard. He has scored one goal in the two preseason games and looks hungry. If he stays for the entire campaign, I could see him from 15 to 20 goals and add five to six assists. If he is only with the Revolution until the summer window, then probably eight to ten goals.
In his rookie season with the Revolution, Kizza spent more time with Revolution II’s development side than the first team. Kizza played 265 minutes as an attacking option in his limited time with the first team. Over eleven appearances, he provided a lone assist and had the only assist from forwards that did not come from Buksa or Bou. While playing for Revolution II, he scored five goals in 1006 minutes in 12 appearances. These are solid numbers for a rookie professional season, especially without a true season at Pitt coming into 2021.
2022 has the potential to be a crucial year for Kizza. The Revolution lost two attacking pieces in Tajon Buchanan and Teal Bunbury. While Kizza does feel more in the lines for Bunbury due to both being forwards, his pace could be something that can complement the Revolution attack. That combined with the increase in competitions that the Revolution is in the season, means that Kizza will see more games and gives him a chance to prove himself as a potential striker for the future.
In a recent interview, Kizza has stated that his goal for 2022 is to score at least five goals for the club. If he can grow and earn his time, his teammate Ema Boateng believes this is doable. Due to the Open Cup matches and CCL, I think he will get the playing time to perform in both those competitions and the regular season. His first touch was lacking at times, and if this has improved, I would expect five goals, if not more.
Similar to 2020, Rennicks found his time with the first team extremely limited in the 2021 season. He could not affect the team, given only two minutes with the first team. He spent the majority of his time with Revolution II, making 27 appearances for 2136 minutes. While his goal numbers were down from the previous year, his assist totals increased from zero to three.
I honestly do not know what to think for Rennicks in the 2022 season. After the big deal that it was to sign him to a homegrown deal two years ago, this may be his final chance to continue with the Revolution. If he can find his attacking form, this could become extremely important season to prove that he can fill the role of Adam Buksa for this team. While spending most of the last two seasons with the development side, he also needs to prove that he is ready for the challenge of MLS now.
I will say that I was surprised that the Revolution took his option for the 2022 season even though he made the bench for the playoff game. That being said, he has come into preseason similar to Buksa, looking in excellent shape. He seems to have put on some muscle which could pose well for him. Like Kizza, he should get opportunities due to the additional competitions this season. If he can take advantage of those, and with Buksa being an unknown after the summer transfer window, he could get more time with the MLS side to prove his ability. I hope to see him bag at least five goals this year, similar to Kizza’s goals.
Overal 2022 Thoughts
There will be questions, especially after career years seen in 2021, if these men can find that form again. If the Revs have the offensive productions from Bou and Buksa they had in 2021, it can lead them to another successful season. Kizza and Rennicks both need to prove that they deserve the chance to be the third striker for this side. I am currently happy with the Revolution’s options going into the season.
The returning forwards produced 31 goals; I expect at least that many, if not more. While the attacking depth may be questioned, Kizza’s pace offers something different to Buksa and Bou. Rennicks, while shorter than Buksa, looks to be cut from the same cloth and should fill a void in games when needed.