2017 New England Revolution Review
The 2017 MLS Season was less than stellar for the Revolution, who finished 7th in the Eastern Conference having just missed out on the playoffs for a second straight year, this time by a full five points. They also had the third worst defense in MLS in 2017, with a breath-taking 61 goals conceded. Also, of note, they fired long term head coach and former Revolution player, Jay Heaps in September with assistant Tom Soehn taking charge until the hiring of Brad Friedel at the end of the 2017 regular season.
Key Losses: Kei Kamara, Benjamin Angoua, Xavier Kouassi, and Gershon Koffie.
Friedel and General Manager Mike Burns have been tasked with making some major squad overhauls with the aim of improving a very poor Revolution defense and breaking the two-year playoffs dry spell. As a result, many defensive players have been sacrificed with Angoua, Donnie and Josh Smith, a well as veterans Je-Vaughan Watson and London Woodberry all departing. Central midfield has also been cleaned out with the departures of Kouassi, Koffie, and Daigo Kobayashi.
Along the same line of thought in terms of clearing out the defense, quite a few replacements have been brought in to take their place with Somi expected to compete with Chris Tierney for the starting left back. Jalil Anibaba will provide depth across the entire defense, while SuperDraft signing Nicolas Samayoa appears to be a depth signing at center back. Fellow draftees Brandon Bye and Mark Segbers have yet to officially sign; however, both are projected to be right back at the MLS level with Bye getting time at that spot in pre-season already. Segbers has played a mere 16 minutes of pre-season soccer due to injury. Homegrown midfield signing Isaac Angking, is likely to spend 2018 on loan in USL, although his destination is unclear with New England’s USL affiliate the Rochester Rhinos on hiatus. Finally, defensive midfielder Wilfried Zahibo has been brought in, he’s likely to either pair or replace Scott Caldwell in midfield. Finally, Ecuadorian international, Cristian Penilla looks like an exciting signing, having impressed on the wing so far in pre-season.
Expected/Predicted Starting XI Picture
A great deal depends on whether Lee Nguyen is still a Revs player at the start of the season as well as how several pre-season positional battles turn out but here’s what a very early prediction of New England’s line up would look like:
Brad Friedel is expected to have this team playing direct, defense first soccer this upcoming season. How long that transformation will take remains to be seen. Projecting too much from pre-season matches, especially those in which key players are missing through can be dangerous: however, from what little can be garnered from the two pre-season matches New England has played to this point, we’ve seen last year’s 4-1-2-1-2 as well as the more defensively stable 4-2-3-1. Expect the fullbacks to get forward and Caldwell to start attacks from the holding role. Albeit, with Kamara gone the team may be a little less cross happy this year.
As it stands, New England will be entering 2018 with a virtually unchanged line up, particularly in comparison to the quality overhauls going on in teams around them in the Eastern Conference. In addition to this, while well respected in some parts, they’ll be led by a rookie coach in Brad Friedel. Expect the Revolution to fall somewhere in the 9-11th place spots in the East.
Closing Fantasy Thoughts/Conclusion
Lee Nguyen finished 4th among midfielders in fantasy scoring last year but between last year’s price ($11.2) and his status with the team currently he could be considered a risky pick. Meanwhile, Delamea was a top 20 defender despite New England leaking goals. Cropper was the cheapest available starting goalkeeper last season at $3.8 and put up a respectable 109 points last season. Finally, should he start, Somi likes to bomb forward from left back and could be worth a look at some point.