For the first time in a long time the New England Revolution are going into the preseason with expectations not only for a playoff run, but a possible first ever MLS Cup. For years since Jermaine Jones arrived in 2014 to lead them to a final, the Revs have plateaued at mediocrity. That all changed last year when the organization brought in arguably the greatest american manager of all time in Bruce Arena. Arena took a Revolution team, whose season was effectively over mid season under Brad Freidel, and lead them to the final spot in the playoffs.
Now, Arena has his first full season with the Revs, and it’s off to a strong start. With a brand new 35 million dollar training facility, all 3 DP slots filled, and a seemingly complete roster entering the season, for the Revolution this seems like uncharted territory.
There is still work to be done, but all the building blocks appear to be there. Most Revs fans will rightly so enter the season with some trepidation when it comes to expectations. But, I see no reason why a team that has been ready for the season since last December would not have just as big a shot as the Atlanta’s and the New York City’s of the Eastern Conference.
Tactics & Key Players
In 2019, the Revolution normally ran a 4-4-2 or a 4-2-3-1 depending on whether Gustavo Bou would line up as a forward or a versatile midfielder. I see the Revs lining up with two forwards meaning that most likely there will be a 4-4-2 with two central defensive midfielders playing deep.
Goalkeeper: At the beginning of the season last year, former manager Brad Friedel rotated every goalkeeper before his midseason sacking. When Bruce Arena took over, the clear number one became Matt Turner. Turner went from two years ago being a third string keeper, to being called up to the national team. Turner should be the consistent number one keeper throughout the year. However, if anything were to happen to Turner or he sees more USMNT opportunities, Brad Knighton recently signed an extension with the club and could be a great value pick under unique circumstances.
Defenders: Most people will say that the biggest hole in the Revolutions lineup is their backline. There do not appear to be many standout rotation proof members of the back four. The Revs did make two key moves in the transfer market in left back Alexander Buttner and center back Samba Camara. Unfortunately the latter’s contract was voided after failing to obtain a P-1 visa. This means that there will most likely be rotation of the centerbacks. This includes Antonio Delamea, Michael Manciene and Andrew Farrell who can convert from Right back. Brandon Bye could see more time at Right Back as a result of this. Also, don’t sleep on superdraft pick Henry Kessler who Bruce Arena loves. The Camara mishap could see to benefit his playing time.
Midfielders: With the Revs midfield I expect much of the same from last year. Two central defensive midfielders who could be swapped consistently between Luis Caicedo, Wilfred Zahibo, and Scott Caldwell. Also expect at least two midfielders with attacking potential. My guess is most of the year that will consist of Christian Penilla and Carles Gil. The latter was an unexpected fantasy goldmine last year and with a full year to work with his partner in crime Gustavo Bou I expect an MVP performance fantasy wise. Forwards: I expect a partnership up top with DPs Gustavo Bou and Adam Buksa. Buksa was signed this offseason as the third designated player on the squad from Poland. Watching some of his highlights i can tell you this could be the striker the revs have been waiting for. He is a tall poacher who will get to those balls thrown into the box while also showing off some skillful shots. That being said I expect Bou to be the fantasy standout up front. He could end up being a sneaky pick for the golden boot in his first full season.
The Revolution had one of their more busy offseasons in quite a while. I have mentioned a lot of the notable changes so far in the article, but there are some others i have yet to mention. The Revs brought back two former players in Seth Sinovic and Kelyn Rowe. Sinovic spent most of his career at Sporting KC and should bring some needed depth at left back. And Kelyn Rowe was one of the more versatile players in his last stint with the Revolution. This time around though I don’t see him getting as many starts which was a main reason for his departure two off seasons ago. Also, with the addition of a USL League One side named Revolution II, expect some young talent getting an opportunity at first team action.
I see a mix of cheap bargains that will help fill save for top tier players, to those top tier players themselves coming from the Revs. Its yet to be seen what impact Buksa will have fantasy wise, but Gil and Bou proven they are capable of being genuine considerations for differential captains. The backline will be the place to go if you are looking for cheap defenders who have a shot at clean sheets with Matt Turner in net.