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.

MLS is Back Game 1: Montreal Impact V New England Revolution

Final Score: Montreal Impact 0 – New England Revolution 1

It’s been four months since there was a competitive MLS match for the New England Revolution, and they came out of the blocks firing. While there were some stumbling blocks at times, the Revolution looked like a team that came into this tournament ready for games.

Henry was fair in his assessment of how Montreal played, yet if you look at the overall performance of both clubs, they were just overmatched and outclassed. Stats aside, the eye test showed one side showed up ready to play, and the other was not prepared. The question not only comes down to the players but the coach as well. Bruce Arena has more managerial experience and success as a manager than Thierry Henry. Yes, Henry was a fantastic player, but that does not mean he won’t become a good coach. He looked overmatched and underwhelming, to be frank.

I still stand by the statement that half of the reason the season opener went so poorly for the Revolution was the pitch in Montreal. Yes, Carles Gil was back for the Revolution, but even a blind man can see how the ball moved on the surface, compared to that joke in Montreal. I know most people joke about the surface at Gillette, but I would take that over what I saw in Montreal.

Major Talking Points

New England Goal 56′ – Gustavo Bou (Carles Gil) Mon 0 – NE 1

What a strike. The interplay between the Revolution front four was fantastic, and this goal should have been one of many. The goal started with the work between Brandon Bye and Carles Gil on the wing and just an excellent finish. The link-up connection between Bou and Gil has been in place since the middle of last season. Yes, there was some rust to knock off, but what a strike.

Overall Thoughts

I cannot commend Bruce Arena, and the rest of his staff enough for the work that they did to get this team ready for the MLS is back tournament. They looked a side who was prepared to go from kick-off. You have to look at the Revolution players, through all the matches I’ve watched seem to have the best fitness. Also, getting their injured players back on the field showed the potential this roster has.

Carles Gil’s 12 chances created were needed, and it allowed so much more freedom to the rest of the players on the pitch. You can see a difference in the flow of the Revolution attack when he was on the pitch and earlier this year when he was injured.

It was welcome to see Delamea and Büttner back on the field. Büttner played exceptionally well for someone who has not played a professional game in close to a year. He provided some much-needed leadership on the backline. He and Delamea seemed to be very much on the same wavelength with each other, even though they have had minimal time together on the field. Büttner also seemed to make things calmer at the back. His call outs and just calmness on the ball and with his positioning helped settler the backline. Nothing against Jones, but the experience difference was culpable.

I am going to make this point again, Thierry Henry can only blame his players so much. They looked underprepared and overmatched. He can talk about lack of fight, but it comes down to his staff and himself ensuring the players are ready to go, and they did not.

Man of the Match

Gil, Turner, Bou, Bruce Arena. Take your pick. Each of these individuals played a huge part in the success of the Revolution over the Impact. Gil created, and being back on the field gave Bou more freedom to play. Bou scored a scorcher of a goal, and what a save by Turner. Probably caused a couple of slight heart attacks afterward, but that is what you need from a standout goalkeeper. Finally, I have already impressed upon Bruce’s accomplishments in ensuring the team was prepped and ready to go tactically, mentally, and physically.