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.

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.