New England Revolution: Playoff Roster Preview Pt. 5: Bruce

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 a look at Bruce Arena and his coaching heading into the playoffs.

Manager – Bruce Arena

Bruce Arena brings years of MLS playoff experience to the table but will it be enough to get the Revolution over the hump. After the performances against D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union, it will be seen how he re-energizes this team. Going against familiar opposition in the Montreal Impact to start the run, can he continue to get one over on Thierry Henry. His decisions and preparation of the team will go along way to deciding how far this team goes. It will also come down to how he reads the game situation and manages the substitutions. I expect him to get the Revolution through the playoff game and have confidence he can lead them on a deep run in the playoffs.

Overall Thoughts:

This team and roster have the pieces to go deep in the playoffs. In Matt Turner and Carles Gil, they have two players who can change a game’s complexion. In the supporting cast around them, there is depth and talent to cause problems. What remains to be seen is can this team gel? Can they play with the fluidity that was seen in the first game in the MLS is Back tournament, when they ran over the Impact but could not finish? If that is the team that shows up, the rest of the league should be on notice.

New England Revolution: Playoff Roster Preview Pt 4: Goalkeepers

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 fourth look at their roster heading into the playoffs.

Goalkeeping

There were lofty expectations for incumbent number one goalkeeper Matt Turner coming into this season, and he exceeded them. While the opener in Montreal left something wanting, he had injured his knee on that piece of shit that was the turf. Outside the one game Brad Knighton started, Turner has had another exceptional season. Matt Doyle, one of MLS’s analysts, even called for him to be the USMNT starter over Zac Stefan. It is the position where no questions are asked as we enter into the playoffs.

Matt Turner has another stand out season for the Revolution. The one nice thing about not having fans in the seats is that you can hear his growth in his box’s confidence and command. While he holds himself accountable, he also has set an expectation for his defenders and will ensure they are not doing their part. His distribution has also improved immensely. I came into the season saying he needed to show a step up, and he exceeded even my expectations. The playoffs will be his moment to shine. After losing out to Andre Blake for Goalkeeper of the Year (I still think that’s the wrong decision), he will continue to have the chip on his shoulder. He will be the main reason the Revolution have confidence they can take on any opponent in the playoffs.

Brad Knighton covered well in his one start for Turner. He is a serviceable MLS keeper and good backup. He does command his box well and can make an important save or two, but if we see Knighton in the playoffs outside of the game against Montreal, the Revolution will need the backline to step up.

Jeff Caldwell did not see the pitch, so if we see him in the playoffs, the Revolution is in serious trouble.

New England Revolution: Playoff Roster Preview Pt. 3 – Defenders

Revolution Team

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.

Defense

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.

New England Revolution: Playoff Roster Preview Pt. 2 – Midfielders

Revolution Team

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.

Midfield

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.

New England Revolution: Playoff Roster Preview Pt. 1 Forwards

Revolution Team

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 a look at their roster heading into the playoffs.

Forwards

The Revolution forwards have produced 22 of the 25 goals for the team this year. 88% is a significant percentage, but also shows the reliance on the forwards to produce. If they do not produce, this team has shown its struggles. While Gustavo Bou is returning from a hamstring injury, the two weeks between matches will help ensure he is up and running for the play-in round match against Montreal.

Adam Buksa had a turbulent regular season for the Revolution but ended with six goals to his credit. He gives the Revolution an excellent hard working number 9. His hold up play is pretty good, and he continues to make good runs off the ball. I think you should expect Buksa to get at least one or two goals in the playoffs, possibly three depending on how deep the team makes a run into the playoffs. With Gil and Bou coming back, the hope is that he can find more space, and they will be able to create more opportunities.

Teal Bunbury has another consistent year for the Revolution. He ended up with the most goals on the team with 8. With Bou and Buksa finding form, he may find his role either on the substitutes bench or more out wide than as the false number nine. His form is good with two goals against DC, but he barely saw the ball against Philadelphia. His work rate will be extremely useful in the playoffs in either roll. I expect him to chip in with at least one goal, though if he gets hot, I could see him hitting 3 or 4 depending on the run in the playoffs.

Gustavo Bou is coming in off a hamstring injury that sidelined him for almost a month. With that, he finished the regular season with five goals. You could see the rust coming off against Philadelphia, so the Revolution are going to need him to find his form and his connection with Gil. IF he can get right, the Revolution will have a potent weapon amongst the goals.

Tajon Buchanan has improved over the year and become a significant threat out wide for the Revolution. He contributed two goals and two assists in the regular season. Buchanan tormented the opposition backs and as he grew in his role and confidence, especially after netting for the first time. I think that Bruce trusts him, and he will get starting minutes throughout the playoffs. He gives you such pace and attacking threat while working back, that combined with Teal on the other wing, you get good coverage.

Kekuta Manneh, a midseason addition of the Revolution, has shown some pace and added width when he has plaid. He has had two starts and six appearances over, and outside from the first two, he has shown good energy and helped create some issues out wide. Manneh and Buksa have developed a good connection with each other’s solitary assist coming for each other. Substitute to hopefully make a late-game impact and contributing with an assist or two.

Justin Rennicks could be an outlier in playoffs for the Revolution. His time down with Revolution II will have given him confidence in his abilities. While it did look at times to be men against boys, he got valuable minutes. While I am not sure if he will make the 19 in any of the playoff matches, he could be used as a late impact attack option for the Revolution.

What the Hell Am I About to Watch: Maple Syrup Derby

The Montreal Impact come into Gillette Stadium for the third Maple Syrup Derby of the 2020 season. Each team has come away with a victory so far this year, Montreal, on their home turf (or whatever you want to call that nightmare field) and New England down in Orlando for the MLS is Back tournament.

The opening game of the season was in the Olympic Stadium, where the Impact hosted the Revolution. The game ended in a 2 – 1 victory for Montreal, though the turf it was played on was a travesty. Teal Bunbury opened the scoring for the Revolution, with a beautiful volley off a Christian Penilla cross. The joy was short-lived as the Impact answered back with two goals sandwiched between a VAR reviewed disallowed goal for the Revolution.

The two teams lined up again in their opening match of the MLS is Back tournament, this time the Revolution came out with a 1 – 0 victory. Gustavo Bou supplied the goal this time, but the Revolution should have scored more. They completely outplayed the Impact, but a 95th minute save by Matt Turner was needed to hold onto to victory.

The Revolution come into this game off of an excellent performance against NYCFC. While they did not find the back of the net, many things showed potential. Montreal is coming off back to back losses, both of them ended with them down to ten men.

Nguyen’s Influence

Lee Nguyen was instrumental in the performance of the Revolution. His ability to see a pass and control the midfield helped the Revolution control the game. His passing vision also created some fantastic opportunities. With more time working with the attackers, the connection between Nguyen and Gustavo Bou could start to bear fruit for the Revolution. They almost got a goal, but Bou was called back for offsides against NYCFC, and his understanding with Bunbury created two excellent shooting opportunities. They were able to carve apart the Impact in Florida with Gil pulling strings; hopefully, Nguyen can step into those boots and create more of the same.

Polster Returns

Matt Polster returns from his one-game suspension from his red card. While Scott Caldwell filled in admirably, I think his return will give more freedom to whoever is playing the number 8 role or will allow for a formation change. Polster has become a key cog in the Revolution team. His performances have allowed for a more attacking threat from the midfield. This is due to his ability to provide cover in front of the backline. He will hopefully allow Nguyen and McNamara more time in the attacking third.

Defensive Solidity

While Matt Turner has continued to be a rock at goalkeeper, the defense has also improved. Though some of the recent score lines may not show it (mainly the two against Philadelphia), the Revolution defense is better than it has been in recent years. It has allowed this team to continue to be in games while struggling to find the back of the net. Henry Kessler has had a rookie fo the year performance this season and is on track to become one of the best defenders in MLS. If they can continue to gel and improve, this can only mean good things for the Revolution.

Expected Eleven

I do not expect wholesale changes from the squad that started on Saturday. The main difference I foresee is Matt Polster to come in for Scott Caldwell.

4-2-3-1

One Final Note

Our Maple Syrup is Better than Yours, and don’t forget it.

What The Hell Am I Going to Watch Revs NYCFC Edition

New England Revolution v NYC FC

NYCFC comes back into Gillette stadium 18 days after embarrassing the Revolution up and down the pitch. NYCFC outplayed them in every facet of the game and left Revs fans wondering what this team was made of. Not only is this a measuring stick for the Revolution and a proving point to the fans that they are not the team that showed up against NYCFC at home, but this team needs to get some revenge. They need to make a statement of intent to the rest of the east. Getting a victory over NYCFC would go along way to proving they can challenge the larger threats in the East. With Inter Miami’s recent signing of Gonzolo Higuain, they have all the competition they can handle for an eastern conference title. Laying a marker down will be crucial to not only the fans but the rest of the league.

Looking for some Goals

A fair amount has rightfully been saying about the Revolution attack. It has been lackluster at best this season. Since returning from the MLS is back tournament, the Revs have had 75 total shots in 6 games. While that averages out to slightly over 12 shots per game, they have only had 20 shots on target. That is a 26.67% accuracy rate. From those 20 shots, they have scored a total of 6 goals. The 6 goals converts to a 30% conversion rate, which while some may find that comforting if that number gets closer to a 50% conversion, maybe some of those draws turn into wins. Teal Bunbury is your leading scorer with 4 goals, and if they want to compete, they need to get everyone clicking. Tajon Buchanon is coming off an excellent performance against Philadelphia, hoping he gets the start over Penilla.

Adam Buksa has struggled to get off the mark, but when you go back and look at the beginning of the season, he scored on his home debut, and while not scoring a goal in Montreal, he looked more in sync with his teammates. Out of anyone on this team, I think the COVID break hurt his progress the most. He looks out of sorts and needs time to settle. I do believe Rennicks being on loan with Revs II should give him confidence that Bruce Arena believes in him. Buksa needs not only to find his confidence but better service.

As I have said before in a previous post, I believe the acquisition of Lee Nguyen could be the key to unlocking the Revolution attack. In his limited time against Philadelphia, he looked extremely comfortable already and looked like he was trying to command the ball’s play. I think his vision and ability to control the flow of play will not only free up Gustavo Bou but also help Buksa with his ability to get the ball in behind for Buksa to run onto.

Filling the Gap

Matt Polster has been a revelation since coming over from Rangers, and the Revolution will need to fill the void created by his red card from last week’s game against the Union. My thought is that Scott Caldwell will come in for him, and while he has the skill to play the holding midfielder, he needs to show the nerve and get stuck in. NYCFC can be a creative team through the midfield, so he will have to ensure he breaks up the play.

Kelyn Rowe will also most likely be called upon to add the metal to midfield. He has been relishing this role as a box to box number 8, but he will need to sit a little more in this match. Rowe has the speed to cover the runs into the box from NYCFC like he did early against Philadelphia. Looking at the rest of the roster, you could see Tommy McNamara dropping into the 8 role opening up a slot in for Nguyen into the starting line up.

Defensive Stability

The Revs backline has finally had some solid stability this year. There have been some worrying moments in recent weeks, but I expect some astute defending for a full week to prepare. The combination of Buttner, Kessler, Farrell, and Bye has found good communication and resolute defending. Kessler has been everything and then some from what was promised out of the 4th overall pick. Having a rookie of the year campaign, he seems to be the draft class so far. His covering, speed, and reading of the game shows the amount up upside this young defender has, and here is to hoping that he gets cap tied by the US national team soon. They need to show the resoluteness seen in the MLS is Back Tournament again, and without Maxi Moralez, the task should hopefully be more comfortable.

Goalkeeping AKA Best Player on the Pitch

The only place that the Revolution will always have the best player on the field is in the net. Matt Turner is the best goalkeeper in MLS. His reactionary saves and overall reading of the game have always been good, but this year, his area’s distribution and command have grown in leaps and bounds. His height is slightly on the average side for a goalkeeper (I’m as tall as he is, if not a hair taller), his catching ability and command of his box now, through instructions and keeper calls, are louder than ever. Turner is the only week in and week out consistent performer for the full 90 this season for the Revolution, including the previous game against NYCFC.

What the Hell Did I Just Watch P.R.O Edition

Let me preface this by saying I may come across as an asshat and a sore supporter, but sometimes you need to say what’s on your mind.

I wanted to give myself some time before writing about the New England Revolution game on Saturday. I hoped there would be a sense of calm towards the refereeing with some time and distance from the match. Alas, there is still frustration. At this point, I’m not even upset with Matt Polster’s second yellow, however soft it was. The frustrations come down to the referee’s overall performance, who set a precedent and did not adhere to his guidelines.

The farce that was the second half referee display by Guido Gonzales Jr. would have any supporter infuriated by the inconsistency for what warranted a card. Starting with the second yellow to Matt Polster, it is a yellow, and I can concede that. Was it drawn by the Philadelphia player flopping down like a Halloween decoration losing air (credit Chris Creighton for the analogy), probably, but the dark arts are a part of soccer. Sometimes officials will give a player on a yellow a break in this situation, a final warning to ensure the game can continue with even numbers. Gonzales Jr. did not, and carded Polster. A clear break and a soft foul but a foul and a yellow card offense by the book. Queue the animosity from those in the New England corner saying it was too soft for a yellow since it was in his half and there were covering defenders. Queue the Philadelphia’s response saying no matter what, that was a yellow card offense; he should get the yellow. Now though Gonzales Jr. has set a precedent for what is a second yellow card, and this is where my problems begin.

63rd Minute, Alejandro Bedoya goes in and off the ball blocks off Tommy McNamara, preventing his run into the attacking third after playing the ball down the line to Penilla. Gonzalez Jr. seems to see it as a foul as his arm goes up to play the advantage, the ball turns over, and the game continues. At the next stoppage, Gonzalez Jr. does not go back to show a second yellow. 7 minutes have passed since Matt Polster’s second yellow, 7 minutes have passed since he set a precedent for a second yellow card offense. There are two questions raised by this, did Gonzalez Jr. consider it a foul, and if he did, how is he that inconsistent in such little time? The fact that he did not call the play dead after Panilla turns the ball over has made me think that Gonzalez Jr. was waving play on. I have not heard the Philadelphia broadcast, but the local broadcast brought up the question of whether he will go back to the foul, explicitly mentioning that Bedoya is on a yellow.

65th Minute, Jose Martinez does the same thing that Matt Polster does, and I mean the same thing; the only difference is that it is in the attacking third, and this time Gonzalez Jr. does not even call a foul. This lack of a foul is the one that gets me heated due to what happened 9 minutes prior. A different jersey, further away from goal, is not only a foul but also a yellow card. The inconsistency seen is not only inexcusable but complete bullshit. It is unclear why he chose one over the other, and this is where I get frustrated. He set his standards and did not uphold them. If I seem a loss for words, it is because I am just so baffled. I will again reference the Revolution broadcast because you can hear the exasperation in Charlie Davis’s voice when he goes, ” and he’s on a yellow as well.” A former player for both sides, perhaps somewhat biased since he is on the Revolution broadcast seeing things as unfair.

As a fan, seeing the referee’s inconsistency is infuriating, and you can see why the Revolution players are crowding the ref to ask what is going on. His decisions changed the outcome of the game. Philadelphia’s second goal would have been covered if the Rev’s have eleven men, or the Union is down to ten. Not only does he change the outcome of this game, but he potentially influences the game against NYCFC, since Polster will miss that match.


I hope that somehow PRO reprimands him for this match, but since I have little faith in P.R.O. I doubt anything will come of it. What disappoints me most about this referee organization is that their general manager is Howard Webb, one of the most well-regarded referees in recent history. If he cannot get this organization to have some form of consistency, then who can, and why is MLS still using P.R.O.?

Welcome Back

The New England Revolution has brought back another former player today with Lee Nguyen from Inter Miami. Nguyen is the third former player to return in the 2020 season for the Revolution, joining Kelyn Rowe and Seth Sinovic in returning to Foxborough. While fans may be split on Nguyen’s opinion with how he left the club in 2018, this is a smart signing by the front office from a purely tactical sense.

The loss of Carles Gil has left a large gap in the roster. The Revolution have missed a creative presence at the number 10. They have tried a couple of formational changes and multiple options to find the creativity and chance creation lost due to Gil’s injury. Against the Impact at the MLS is Back Tournament; Gil played his only full 90 of this season, creating 12 chances, which according to OptaJack was, the most in a single game by a Revolution player since they started tracking the MLS. Opportunities have been lacking in recent matches. While finishing has been a problem, having someone setting up people in the right place can go miles to create a stronger offensive side.

Lee Nguyen, as a player, fils this role and helps improve the team as a whole. While Tommy McNamara has been working had to help with creativity, it is not a natural position. Nguyen’s best years in the league were all with the Revolution. In 208 games with the Revolution, he produced 54 goals and 35 assists, including his MVP nominated year (still should have won that) of 2014 of 18 goals and 4 assists. He has had a significant drop in his minutes since moving to LAFC in 2018 and seen very little of the pitch in 2020 with Inter Miami. His vision and drive into the attacking third is something that should help free up Gustavo Bou and Adam Buska. His service will also help the Revolution on free kicks, which will hopefully bode well for Adam Buska and others. A small side note is that Nguyen has played in Gillette on the turf, making acclimation time to the surface lower. The only downside is that he will need to get match sharp as he has played minimal minutes this season.

His time at LAFC and Inter Miami will only provide a chip on Nguyen’s shoulder to prove that he can still cut it in the MLS. This deal is a low-risk deal for the Revolution with a high ceiling if he can find some good form.

One final note. Yes, the way he left was not what the fanbase would have liked, and I know some who most likely will not forgive him. Everything he is saying is correct and may be scripted, but he genuinely seems to care about the New England fanbase, so give him a shot.

What The Hell Did I Watch

New England Revolution Recap

Of all the games we have seen under Bruce Arena, this is the most lackluster, disappointing shitshow I have seen. From the starting eleven to the bench, nothing seemed to make sense for the Revolution. This performance is raising many questions for me, none of them pretty, anyways, here we fucking go.

In the past year, Revs fans have started believing in the mantra, “In Bruce we Trust,” personally for the first time, I seriously find myself doubting the team he decided to put out on the pitch, tactics, and substitutions.

Forwards

Let’s start with the conundrum upfront. Adam Buksa has not found his footing since the MLS is Back tournament, and even there, he was off. I have faith he will come good, but I also know he needs more around him and time to adjust to the league and surface. So you bench him, then where was Justin Rennicks in the eleven or even on the bench. This team, while they may not want to admit it needs a focal point up top without playmaker Carles Gil. Again when you have a promising young player who is craving minutes and the fanbase will support, where is he. There was so much drama about him leaving and going back to college and the Revs losing him, and here they are needing a striker and not even giving him a look. I would not be surprised if he told them to stick it and left or went to play with Revs II because he’ll get minutes there.

Gustavo Bou plays best when he is allowed to play off hold up striker. That being said, this year, he has looked lost in the wilderness at times on the pitch. People will point to his shot conversion rate as a negative, which let us face it, while complete shit, at least he is shooting. Without Carles Gil, it looks to me that he is putting pressure on himself to be the everything for the team, and he needs to let go of that. Suppose he can get better interplay with his teammates by just trusting them and not overplaying, things will improve across the board for the Revolution. You see the movement and the chance creation, but he should have scored late in the game, and that is facts.

Teal Bunbury plays better coming in from the wing and giving ample coverage backtracking or interchanging with a central striker. As a number 9 he can hold up the play, but it is not always consistent. His work rate is excellent and was there, but there were still chances there for him that he missed. I may have a bit of a soft spot for him since his commitment and work rate are high, but even he needs some sharpening. There is a reason that “Dammit Teal” has become a mantra in The Fort.

Chrisitan Panilla was playing as the tip of a diamond, which he should not play. His passing ability, combined with his typical first touch, does not meet the expectations or requirements to play behind the strike partnership. I was hoping he would not be a starter this year at all because his pace is devastating, but I feel like it’s more useful later in the game. Those who are still in love with him from his initial season with the team, get your head out of your ass and look at the player. He is a pacy winger who can not be relied on to do much. His shooting is lackluster at best, most of the time, and if you needed those glasses broken, look at the first balloon last night. Sitter that should be on frame at least goes 30 yards into the stands because instead of realizing he could take a touch and get it on his favored foot, he tried to be fancy and hit it the first time with his left, which is useless. Why he never got substituted in that game boggles my mind.

Midfield

It seemed like Arena has confidence in the pairing of Kelyn Rowe and Matt Polster, but after changing to a diamond instead of a 5 with 2 sitting as cover. The team did not seem to have any real cohesion. It is interesting that while I believe Bruce Arena was trying to make tactical changes, they did not seem to fit the team.

Tommy McNamara in a Revolution kit is an unknown quantity. He cameo again Red Bull looked promising, and he showed some good flashes in his performance against NYCFC, but he did not look like he completely understood the positioning at times. McNamara is still learning the system, and I get Bruce wanting to get him on the pitch. Hopefully, he comes good, but I feel like he is a stop-gap and not a long term solution. I would have preferred giving Tajon Buchannon more time as he is still a developing talent and let McNamara come on as a sub as he did against Red Bull.

Kelyn Rowe was one of the few players that I think overall I came away with no real frustration over his performance. While he did not have any outstanding game-changing moments, he moved and tried to keep the pace of play up. Rowe should have taken a shot instead of passing towards the end. His transformation in the bast couple of months from a number 10 into a number 8 has been good, and with the addition on Matt Polster, he seems to be able to find real freedom all over the pitch. His defensive tracking has also improved, and it feels like he is settling and creating a good relationship with Polster.

Matt Polster – for someone who has not had much game time due to the COVID break, has looked the part as a defensive midfielder. He has added some much-needed steel and resolve to the Revolution midfield. Again like Rowe, I do not think his first-half performance was terrible, and it may be a comparison to the others on the pitch or some tinted glasses saying that. I do think he looked tired, and the substitution at the half made sense. I will say the defense did not look as stable with him off in the second half.

Defense

Defensively there were two massive calls in the starting eleven. Michael Mancienne was brought in for Andrew Farrell, and DeJuan Jones came in for Alexander Buttner. To say Mancienne starting was a head-scratcher would be an understatement. Since his arrival in mid-2018, he has never really looked the part, so replacing a stable partnership that had been very solid was interesting. Jones was an understandable start with Buttner having played so little since last year, and giving him some rest made sense.

Brandon Bye had a performance that I can not complain about. He was very aware in the defensive third, ensuring corners and tried to keep his side under control. While his crosses were finding decent places, there was no target man in the 18 to attack them. I do not get why he was substituted for Manneh. It became more of the square pegs in round wholes, instead of keeping your right back on, and perhaps substituting an underperforming 10. He and Buchanan were combining well before his removal.

DeJuan Jones was yanked at half time, and it did not feel that he made any noticeable contributions. His typical speed runs bombing up the left flank were missing, which either comes down to tactics or the simple fact that the Revolution could not possess the ball for long enough in the first half. As he is a converted winger, perhaps a different substitution could have been made at the half to allow for more speed to attack NYCFCs left in the second half and provide defensive cover for Buttner when making his foraging runs.

Henry Kessler is having a rookie of the year season. You can see why the Revolution selected him 4th overall in the draft this year. He continues to be stable and a force in the back. He has added a sense of calm to the backline that one would not always expect from his first professional year. He may be getting a bit of a pass since he is a rookie, but his performances have been consistent, and he did not cause any of the leaks in the back.

Michael Mancienne should not have been on the pitch from the opening whistle. Why you drop Andrew Farrell for Mancienne is an absolute joke. Yes, Farrell’s touch was not the greatest against Red Bull, but if you look at that game across the board, passes were missed, and touches were not the greatest. Mancienne got beat on both goals for NYCFC. He could not clear the cross and end up with an own goal, as well as losing his marker for the second goal and allowing a free header. He had some ok moments, mainly clearing out for corners, but there was a connection missing between him and Kessler.

Goalkeeper

Matt Turner, there is nothing you can say wrong about his performance. He kept the Revs in the game with his shot-stopping and shows why he is one of if not the best goalkeeper in the MLS. Maybe you say he could have gotten a hand on the first goal to attempt to tip it round the post, but that is me nitpicking for the sake of nitpicking. His distribution and command of the area have grown vastly over the past year. Here’s to hoping there is at least one more season after this one in New England. If he is subject to the current bailing out the team for long periods of the game, he may be tempted to leave for Europe sooner rather than later, and who can blame him.

Substitutions

These have been a sore spot in recent games. It feels like they always come too late in the match to make any difference. This game, the halftime substitutions, which did make sense, did not affect the game in the way Arena probably hoped. The remainder of the

Diego Fagundez coming off his one good pass of the previous start against Red Bull, Fagundez came in for Polster at the half and hit the 250 game milestone. In my opinion, that is just a couple too many games. As a 15-year-old, he broke into the first team and had a high ceiling, which he has not achieved. Perhaps t was a stunted development due to the managerial change after Heaps left. But he has become stagnant. He still will score the occasional goal or hit a wonder-ball, but his vision and movement were lacking against NYCFC.

Alex Buttner has some good moments and tried to get forward to supply crosses, but similar to Jones, outside of some work in the attacking third, he was mostly non-existent in the attack. He was somewhat at fault for the cross leading to the opening goal from NYCFC. It came from his side, and he does occasionally get caught upfield (see above, I had a solution).

Tajon Buchanon looked solid going forward until he moved to right back. Then became a square peg in a round hole. Didn’t put a step wrong in the defensive half, but going forward lacked just a bit of finishing (a theme?????). I still want him to get more game time, and I think he will come good with time. He needs more time on the field, so maybe a shuffle up might find him on the pitch more.

Kakuta Manneh more of a cameo appearance for the new man, who got forward and combined well enough. Will save judgment for a bit more time, but looked like he lacked match sharpness. Worried, he may be similar to Panilla in the long run, but if he keeps Panilla off the field for a bit, I’m good with that.

Adam Buska was brought on eventually, and due to the circumstances, there was more room for him to work with, but he still looked more at home up top than anyone else had for the entirety of the match. He was making good runs and was having more players see them in the later stages of the game. He did have one missed header, which could have been kept on frame, and a tame shot from outside the 18. Again you would hope that one of those would have gone in, but I feel like he is still trying to get settled.

Manager

Bruce Arena looks lost or disappointed in his side. Four wins in the last 22 is not the record that most people would have been hoping to see. He has inherited a team and is currently working to bring in his side, but this game’s tactics felt off. The team did not have the cohesion that had been building. The choice to play Panilla, both out of position and not have him on the bench after another poor performance against Red Bull. The switch to a diamond midfield also felt a little forced as the strike partnership was both non-traditional number 9s, which meant it was harder for hold up play. Bringing Mancienne has been discussed but breaking up a partnership that has been creating a very stingy defense made little sense. His substitutions fell flat, and while he does need some time, people are already asking if the league has passed him by.