It’s gameday! The New England Revolution is here for a nationally televised match which ESPN surely had higher hopes than an 11th place vs 14th place dud. Both teams are struggling this year and both will be short-handed at striker on Sunday as well.
You can also check out the other side of things and see my responses on TBM.
Much like KC, New England has fallen off sharply since winning the Eastern Conference last season. What happened? Can we start a petition for a do-over?
JC: Yes, a do-over would be most helpful if only for another shot at Pumas in Mexico. Most of the Revs slow start boils down to a lot of early injuries and a CCL experience that did not go very well largely because of those injuries. Particularly on the backline, Henry Kessler has been in and out of the lineup all year forcing Omar Gonzalez and Jon Bell into a lot more key starter minutes than preferred. The Revs limped into their second leg CCL game without Matt Turner in goal or either of their starting centerbacks as Andrew Farrell also missed that game and the Revs weren’t able to defend a 3-0 lead.
The Revs strategy to lean on MLS veterans early in the year kind of backfired as the team got bounced from both the CCL and US Open Cup and are now languishing towards the back of the East. Although recently their league results have improved, it was always going to be unlikely that the Revs were going to put together another Shield winning campaign without Tajon Buchanan, Matt Turner, and now Adam Buksa.
Still, the Revs have underperformed despite their not great luck this year and some reinforcements are going to be needed this summer to bolster the side towards the true goal of that elusive MLS Cup.
The Revs just transferred away World Cup bound Polish striker Adam Buksa. What is the game plan to replace him on Sunday?
JC: My guess is the Revs go with Gustavo Bou up top but losing Buksa really changes the way the Revs will have to generate a lot of their goals. Buksa was a dominant force in the air and inside the box and that’s why he paired so well with Bou at times, because Bou got to occupy completely different areas and channels to get his shots. Tactically this year the Revs have deployed a 4-4-2 diamond and what I would call a narrower 4-2-3-1 with the Revs playing with three attacking mids than true wingers. Both formations have worked but Matt Polster has gotten overwhelmed as the lone CDM at times but either tactic lets the Revs fullbacks in DeJuan Jones and Brandon Bye who are both in excellent form, create the bulk of the width as they get forward.
Short term I think the Revs can generate enough chances to get into the playoffs. Long term, they do need additional reinforcements beyond GK Petrovic and MF Dylan Borrero and a target striker of some kind unless there is a Jozy Altidore revival tour beginning shortly. New England is in an interesting spot the next few years with Carles Gil as they have a tremendous financial war chest to bolster the team with a lot of TAM level deals they can buy down with all the money from the Buchanan/Turner/Buksa sales, or at least in theory. 2022 was always going to be a difficult year for roster building because of the short offseason and winter World Cup. Bruce Arena and the front office have a lot they need to get right the next two transfer windows.
In the midst of a trend of poor re-brands followed by re-re-brands across MLS, how has the new logo and branding for the Revolution been received by the fans?
JC: Overall, the logo was a mixed bag. If you liked the Crayon Flag and I did, you probably didn’t love the new Queen’s Park Ghostbusters “R” logo and vice versa. Personally, I don’t dislike the new logo artistically but the most I can say about it is that it’s fine and it fits that I can only assume is an MLS-wide mandate for every team to have a Euro style roundel or shield which makes no sense but I digress.
I did hate the way the was rolled out in the final game of last year as the Revs celebrated their Shield win. I get the impact the timing was supposed to have but I think it didn’t work and there hasn’t been a lot to reinforce the new branding so far and that is disappointing. There might be some hope though...
TBM’s Seth Macomber has leaked info on the Revs 2023 jersey, which is our away white shirt and I like where this is going. I am a sucker for a good sash kit, just check my Twitter profile pic for the best USA/USMNT shirt of my lifetime, and while the white shirt on red doesn’t feel very New England I do like it. The Revs haven’t sported an away shirt like this in a few years since their half red/white “Feyenoord” shirt from I think 2017 or so which I think was a great alternate kit combination. The sash in the new “R” logo should have been a centerpiece in a lot more merchandise for the team and hopefully this is the start of a positive trend.
JC: I think Henry Kessler has been ruled out for this one, so that means either Bell or Omar next to Andrew Farrell. Matt Turner is still with the USMNT so Djordje Petrovic will make his MLS debut after a couple of good starts in the Open Cup.
Petrovic; D Jones, Bell, Farrell, Bye; McNamara, Polster; Borrero, Gil, Lletget; Bou
This might be Dylan Borrero’s first MLS start as well, but I think he has some league minutes under his belt and is probably more winger than attacking mid and could be a great partner opposite Lletget in that wider attacking mid but not quite actual winger role. This is the team of the near future and I still like this team enough to get a result in Kansas City though I would have no problem with a draw here. Assuming Omar doesn’t let Johnny F Russell score like 4 goals anyway.