Well Deserved Call Up

A brief preface before dive into the numbers for these two guys. The statistical information gathered is from a website called fbref.com. They are wonderful and made my life extremely easier to put my thoughts together and back them up with statistics. Please visit them if you have any interest in soccer statistics.

Affectionately known as Camp Cupcake, the January USA Men’s National Soccer Team training camp roster was announced today, and two members of the New England Revolution’s squad were selected. In the senior team, goalkeeper Matt Turner received his 3rd call up into camp, and rookie phenom Henry Kessler got called into the U-23 camp. While both players will be looking for their first appearances for the national team, Matt Turner should be starting in net for the match against Serbia’s rumored opponent. Kessler may see the field but with other strong defenders in camp has less of a chance.

Matt Turner’s 2020 was another year to remember for the Revolution’s number one. After a disappointing start to the season with the 2-1 loss to the Montreal Impact, Turner picked up a slight knee injury. Starting in the MLS is Back tournament, Turner made many game-changing saves throughout the season. The main one everyone remembers due to proximity is the penalty save over Nani in the MLS Playoffs with the Revolution lead at 2-1, but Turner always seems to come up with the big save when needed. Looking at his statistics this past year, Turner had a 75.5 save percentage, good for top 5 in MLS. His goals allowed versus goals expected to conceded was a +8.2 the top in MLS, which means he allowed fewer goals than expected, and his passing, while not notable, was at 70.6% up from 63.2% the previous year. The other noticeable change was the command of the 18-yard box. Something that we could hear a lot more due to lack of crowds was Turner’s yelling at his defenders and organizational strategies. He looked more at home, telling them where to be and what he expected from them. Finally, as Matt Doyle said earlier this year, he would have had Turner starting over the current number one Zac Stefen, sooo eat your hearts out.

Henry Kessler’s rookie season was one that has Revolution fans drooling with anticipation to see how he can develop into his sophomore season. While Kessler was not projected to be a starter coming into camp by most pundits, including myself, injuries thrust him into Montreal’s spotlight, and he never looked back. Even in his rookie season, Kessler never looked out of place in the MLS. He had a poise and confidence about him that showed in his gameplay. Kessler contributed one goal in his rookie season and no assists while having an 85.2 passing completion percentage. On the defensive side of things, Kessler finished the season with the 3rd best in MLS successful pressures at 44.3 percent and 5th in MLS in clearances with 124. He completed 27 tackles in 35 attempts, which is just a shade under 80%. In what should have been a rookie of the year season, MLS changed the award. Kessler stabilized the Revs’ backline and became one of the most critical players on the field every match.

Going into the US National Team camp is an excellent opportunity for both of these players to further their careers and develop more skills. This can only be seen as a good thing for the Revolution in terms of success in the coming 2021 season.

Five Promising Outward Transfers For Revolution Players

Revolution Players That Create A Profit And Can Grow

As it stands currently, a few of the European and South American transfer windows are open. The Revolution have a few players of value and skill that would produce a transfer fee in leaving. Here’s five of them that I believe would produce the most ideal fee. As well as producing the most fee, these are the players that are most likely to grow from it. To be clear, I don’t mean that I’d be ok with these players leaving.

Carles Gil
Carles Gil, Transfer, maybe?
Credit: Revolution Communications

Gil is the most talented and creative of the five selected. Since joining the Revolution, Carles has shown his prowess on the ball. In 2019, he was in the top 5 in both, shot creating actions and goal creating actions. In 2020, Gil obviously was a huge part of the playoffs contention. He was injured for a good portion of the regular season in 2020, which I think would lower his profit, but definitely beats out most others on the team for value growth. Carles is such a versatile player, I think he would command a 4-5 million dollar transfer fee if he leaves.

Transfermarkt Market Value: 4.40 million dollars

Tajon Buchanan

Buchanan has grown by leaps and bounds since joining the team in 2019 from the 9th spot in the MLS Superdraft. In 2019, Tajon appeared in 10 games and started four. In 2020, he appeared in 23 and started in 11. Buchanan’s dribbling ability and vision of the game has created dangerous opportunities for the Revolution. He scored two goals and created two goals with assists this year for New England. Just recently in December, the Canadian national team called him up for their January training camp. For that reason, along with Bruce Arena finding a starting place for Tajon in his team, I find Tajon to be the player with the most value, beyond their formulated value. He might be valued at 2.20 million dollars, but I could see him leaving the team for 3-4 million sooner rather than later. His gamesmanship in the playoff games only created a higher value. He is only providing the team with profit and if he goes to a better league, he could grow exponentially.

Transfermarkt Market Value: 2.20 million dollars

Matt Turner

Turner has been a name in the mouth of MLS fans everywhere and statisticians love him. Matt has had two amazing years in 2019 and 2020, only cementing his position as the starting goalkeeper. He was nominated for the Goalkeeper of the Year in MLS again this year, for the second year in a row. He ended up getting beat out by Andre Blake this year. Comparing Blake to Turner, Turner was forced to make more saves than Blake this year and did it well. Matt’s shot stopping ability when a goal was for sure by normal standards was amazing. He topped the league in PSxG-GA (Post Shot expected goals minus goals against) at 8.2 goals saved that should have been definite goals. Beyond that, it’s expected that Turner will get a call up for the USMNT again soon after enjoying a training camp stay in 2019. His value may be 1.10 million, but if Zack Steffen can go to Man City for 7 million, then Turner can leave the MLS for 2-3 million as it stands. With USMNT 22nd in the National Team rankings, if he can get a game in and do well, his value will skyrocket for that reason.

Transfermarkt Market Value: 1.10 million dollars

Adam Buksa

Buksa had a year for the Revolution, scoring six goals and assisting one on a selfless pass. He had 23 shots on target, which he placed in 5th in the leaderboard for all of MLS. It didn’t quite follow up the years that he had at Pogoń Sczcezin before he came to the Revolution. For this reason, Adam’s value might be still hot but I think he’d be less of a commodity after the showing this year. He was however a huge part of the playoff wins which gives him a big boost. His ability to score on his own exists but he excels with a great playmaker. Europe would love to have him back at his consistent rate of scoring goals. His transfer value would allow him to go back to Europe for around 5 million as it stands. I think his chance to go to the Poland National team would have improved that transfer fee immensely if he got it.

Transfermarkt Market Value: 4.95 million dollars

Henry Kessler

Kessler had a great year for the Revs. He was third out of the entire league in successful pressures, completing 44 percent of his pushes against an attacker. He also was fifth in clearances making 124 in all matches in MLS. Henry’s defensive contributions helped the team while pressuring and making tackles. Kessler made successful tackles 35 times out of 44, making sure that backline was safe. He definitely deserves a look at for the USMNT but it won’t come as it stands. He will have to show out this year again and prove he deserves the call up. His 1 million dollar valuation is pretty simply it, he would get a million or two to an EFL League One, Championship team.

Transfermarkt Market Value: 1.10 million dollars

The Chattanooga Dilemma Part One: Chattanooga FC

Learning Of The Rivalry And Teams

I was doing some analysis of the New England Revolution II’s match against the Chattanooga Red Wolves in USL League One on Twitter. It was a great night for Revs II against the Red Wolves, as they had been demolished 4-0 in their earlier meeting. CRW was absolutely peppering Joe Rice with shots. He ended up with eight saves during the game. Rice had topped the league in saves with 43 at that point! The next keeper down had 34 saves.

I decided to @ChattRedWolves, figuring it was a decent way to seem professional in my tweets. Recently, BelieveInBostonSports.com reached out to me to intern with them as a writer for the Revs on the whole. As I am currently in COVID-19 work drought, the obvious answer was yes. Unbeknownst to me, there is a rivalry in Chattanooga that just recently appeared out of thin air, or so I thought.

An adamant fan of Chattanooga FC decided to sent me a quick reply to my analysis that he felt I shouldn’t @ them at all. We ended up messaging about the issues that arose out of the Chattanooga Red Wolves existing. I heard him out and continued on my merry way. The reasoning behind both teams existing was fairly simple, but still troubling me. Directly after our conversations, I did a bit more research on the rivalry and ideals of both teams. Learning about these types of stories are what I live for in the soccer realms. It takes me back to reading The Miracle of Castel Di Sangro by Joe McGinniss. Although, this one has a bit more drama and has yet to pass.

Chattanooga FC, The Peoples’ Club (no, no, not Everton)

Chattanooga FC were founded in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2009. Tim Kelly, Krue Brock, Marshall Brock, Paul Rustand, Sean McDaniel, Daryl Heald, Hamilton Brock, Thomas Clark and Sheldon Grizzle were the co-founders. The team started out playing in the National Premier Soccer League(NPSL). The NPSL was in the seventh year of their existence. CFC ended up that year in the middle of the Southeast Division, with four wins, three losses and one draw. This didn’t earn them anything but the idea of staying power. That being said, they were one win out of the playoffs.

Quick Run Down Of Their Season Finishes:

  • 2009, played in the NPSL, 3rd in the Southeast Region, didn’t qualify for playoffs
  • 2010, played in the NPSL, 1st in SE Region, National Finals
  • 2011, played in the NPSL, 3rd in SE Region, didn’t qualify
  • 2012, played in the NPSL, 1st in SE Region-West, National Finals
  • 2013, played in the NPSL, 1st in SE Region, South Regional Finals
  • 2014, played in the NPSL, 1st in SE Region, National Finals
  • 2015, played in the NPSL, 1st in SE Region, National Finals
  • 2016, played in the NPSL, 1st in SE Region, National Semi-Finals
  • 2017, played in the NPSL, 2nd in SE Region-West, Southeast Quarterfinals
  • 2018, played in the NPSL, 1st in SE Region
  • 2019, played in the NPSL, 1st in SE Region
  • 2020, *played fall season of NISA, NISA Independent Cup, 1st in Group A of Fall Season, 1st in Independent Cup – Southeast.

*NISA seasons were shifted into Cups, and re-created to play more games due to COVID 19 outbreak.

As you can see, they were dominating the NPSL pretty handily and wanted to try their hand in NISA this year. Well, we all know that the Coronavirus pandemic hit and created issues all over. During the restart, they were able to start off in the NISA Fall Independent Cup, which they topped their region in July. After the Independent cup, they restarted with a Fall Season, which Chattanooga FC were the top place in the Eastern Conference. Directly after that, they headed into the NISA Fall Championship, which consisted of eight teams. They were second in Group B and ended up making their way to the NISA Fall Championship semi-finals. CFC was ousted by the now-USL Championship side Oakland Roots.

Attendance, Brand: a major difference

Attendance

The difference between the two teams currently is their attendance and their brand. If you just focus in on the Real Betis friendly, Chattanooga FC drew 6,115 fans for that game. On a normal game day in a season of the NPSL in 2019, CFC were pulling in on average around 2,500-3,000 fans. They hosted the NPSL National Championship where they drew the NPSL record for attendance, over 18,000 fans.

Whereas, the Chattanooga Red Wolves in 2019 had an average of around 1,600 for their entire 2019 season. The NPSL/NISA side CFC is clearly out performing them in ticket sales. The Chattanooga FC are wonderfully doing something right to exist this well beside a team trying to take over the market. Their fans are fervent and follow along as The Chattahooligans. The Chattahooligans are an amazing crew of supporters who have gotten behind their team completely, a good portion of the ‘Hooligans are the one’s who invested in the team during the WeFund.

Brand

Speaking on brands, CFC has built a great following on Twitter, amassing close to 14,000 followers since 2009. Their Facebook page is even bigger at 19,300 liking, 19,800 following around the same-time frame. It’s clear they’re are a force to be reckoned with in their social media game. They also managed to play La Liga’s Real Betis, MLS’ Atlanta United, and FC Dallas and Liga Nacional de Guatemala’s CSD Municipal. There’s no doubting the communications teams’ vigor for recruiting fans or even just love.

The Red Wolves are currently at 4,026 followers on Twitter and around 4,000 followers on Facebook as well. Since July 2018, while they have grown, it has yet to be seen whether they achieve the same height as CFC. They haven’t managed any high-profile friendlies yet at all.

Why The Rivalry?

Breaking it down to the ideals? Corporatism vs Localism. Chattanooga FC existed long before the Chattanooga Red Wolves were an idea. CFC has been putting people in the seats of Finley Stadium for 11 years now and doing a good job of it. This is a club that managed to get Real Betis to come play them for a friendly just last year. Yes, that Real Betis, La Liga giant Real Betis. You know what the score was? Real Betis 4 – 3 Chattanooga FC. They put three goals past players who have been in Real Betis’ academy system for years. They deserve a round of applause from me.

The local fans have now literally put their money into the club, since the Red Wolves came into existence. Just last year, the Chattanooga FC owners I mentioned earlier put the club up on WeFund. WeFund essentially partitions the team up into investments by whoever puts enough in to deserve a piece. Therefore, this team is run by the fans now, 3,256 to be exact and they get a say in the board members, everything that’s voted on.

With that being said, it is absolutely an instance of localism vs corporatism there in Chattanooga. The Chattanooga Red Wolves came in with invested money. They threw said money at the original general manager of CFC, Sean McDaniels and the assistant director of coaching, Jimmy Weekly. They left the team in 2018 to join the newly created and USL League One sanctioned team owned by Bob Martino, a real estate investor in Park City, Utah. He also has now created a second team, a feeder team, back in Utah.

I appreciate the ideals behind Chattanooga FC as I’ve been following groups like Providence City FC, Rhode Island Reds, Hartford City FC, and even newly added Valeo FC. I refereed Valeo FC back when I reffed for the BSSL. These teams are all trying to make it on their own and build from the ground up, like Chattanooga FC did over 11 years.

It’s tough not to get upset at the ideal of someone coming in and just ripping out the innards of a company by throwing money at it. But, the Chattanooga Red Wolves are an existing team now, in USL League One and they are doing well for themselves. That’s a chat for another day. Another article.

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.

Playoff Excitement and Haters…

I’m super pumped for this game on Saturday. I love even more that we’re underdogs. We thrive while being the underdogs and always have. It catapults the fans to a level of hype unseen, especially when the players catch on and double it down. This #RaiseYourColors tag has also kicked my feelings up a notch. The “Mama Mama” chant has been a mainstay in the Revolution realm for years now, it’s about time they assimilated to the supporter’s culture.

Atlanta will be tough…

Yeah yeah yeah, they’ve got a couple ex-Revs looking to pay the team back. Yeah, they’ve got one of the top goal scorers of the past few years since Atlanta came into the league. I’m not going to chop this up lightly. AU will definitely come out swinging. Atlanta will be coming into this with a general knowledge of the team from the game on Decision Day, fresh in their heads. This knowledge may be fake, so lets not even focus in on that. Martinez, Gressel and Pity/Barco can absolutely tear this Revs team apart and we’ve already seen it a few times within the past year. Martinez will be playing the back line as usual, hoping to catch someone sleeping.

The biggest plus on Atlanta’s half is that they’ll have 50,000 or more fans in the crowd making noise. I’ve heard a decent section of Revolution fans may be heading down for the game, but I still think it will be less than 30-40. I hope I’m wrong. Needless to say, the New England players will have to believe the fans are making a ruckus for them up in 329, very unlikely to be heard.

The major subtraction I can take from this team, is this team is not coached by MLS Cup winning Tata, they’ve got FDB. I cannot assume the same level of ability to keep players composed in the face of the Revs coming out and scoring first. I think this is where we may have a chance to change up people’s minds. We have an MLS Cup winning head coach, they don’t.

Hype Train Rolls On…

I will start at the top. As soon as Bruce Arena took a hold onto this team, they became a different entity entirely. We’ve seen cohesion between players and even some singular players having major confidence boosts. Right here, is where I start this hype train. I know a lot of us fans are tainted by performances past, but this coach, with this team. Arena seems to make these players want to run through walls for him. He definitely makes the fans want to jump out of their seats and run onto the field and hug him.

We have MLS Newcomer of the Year, Carles Gil on our team. He has been a part of this team since during the Friedel downfall and he still came out unscathed. He scored 10 goals this season and provided 14 more people with goals. Bou and him have vibed so well together that I don’t see this game not having a Bou to Gil to Bou goal. He will lead us to victory. oh capitán mi capitán

We have LA PANTERA, Gustavo Bou. He has 9 goals and 2 assists in 13 games started, 14 games played since he joined the team. At the moment, he is likely to strike again, as he hasn’t gone two games without a goal all season. On average, he scores a goal every game and a half. With that stat, if he was here all year, he would have been closing in on Martinez’s trail with around 24-25 goals in 34 games. He is the real deal and willing to do anything and everything to try and score. I hope this panther strikes again this upcoming game!

We have Matt Turner, our Goalkeeper of the Year in our hearts. His stats are unreal, even if it’s only part of the season. At one point in the season, this guy was supposed to have let in 28 goals. He allowed 20. There were no other goalkeepers even in his range for G-xG. He is the main reason this team stands in the playoffs. He is also the reason I’m consistently ready to run through a wall. Turner has shown me that he can step up and keep people motivated to make it all happen. In most of his interviews, he is always speaking on how the team is working together and working hard. It shows!

The team on the whole has been legit through this run of 5 and a half months since Arena stepped into his position as Head Coach/ Sporting Director. Agudelo, Fagundez, and Penilla have all had great showings in their various starts and super-sub moments. Luis Caicedo has continued to be the backbone of the team, always ready to sacrifice himself for the greater good (tactical fouls). He has great soccer IQ and it’s awesome to see. Big Wilf has showed he can be a great asset in keeping possession. He also manages to send some great passes through from time to time. The whole back-line in the past few games have worked their asses off. From Farrell, Delemea, Anibaba, Mancienne, to Jones, they all have shown some amazing work and I can’t wait to see the pumped up version of the defense they showed a week and a half ago.

All the haters…

Beware. The underdogs are ready to go. We will show up on Saturday. We will make as many strikes on goal as we did a week or so ago. And we will score them this time. We will keep your “strikers” out of our end with great ease. We will keep our calm and strike when the moment is right. Our supporters will be partying up in 329 singing “Glory Glory”, with an amazing emphasis on the part “Undivided…F UNITED”. I can’t wait to go to the bar and annoy the regulars when I’m jumping around the lounge area screaming my lungs out.“Mama Mama, Can’t you see, What New England’s done for me…” This is the Revolution and we will not back down. “Raise your colors, Raise them up.”