It’s time to get back to work for the New England Revolution.
After a record-breaking and franchise-best season that saw them win the Supporters’ Shield with a 22-7-5 record, the Revs missed out on an MLS Cup again with a semi-final loss to New York. City FC will close in November. The season, although it ended disappointingly, was a year to look back on with pride – and showed signs of what may be a long-term string of success as one of the best teams in the MLS.
Using their typical 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1 formation, the Revs were a tough team to beat, having lost no consecutive games all season. They went more than a month unbeaten in three separate months, with a league-leading positive goal differential of plus-24.
Revolution manager Bruce Arena knows they are no longer a secret.
“I don’t think we’re a secret anymore,” Arena said in media interviews on Friday. “I think the teams know we have a good team and they will be prepared for us. We have new players. We have built a team that hopefully has some depth. We will find out.
But can the Revolution build on the season and fend off opponents of the league’s best team? The signs point to yes, but there are obstacles to knowing how far they can go.
break it down
To get back to it and make a deeper run as one of the league’s best teams for 2022, the Revs are looking to the same thing, with some minor tweaks to their roster.
This experience and proven success should translate well to the Revolution, but it’s a matter of time on the ground to rebuild relationships. The Revs took a 4-1 victory over El Paso Locomotive on February 22 in a friendly match, and also beat Hartford Public 2-0 on February 18 in a friendly format.
New arrivals : Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Lletget join a young team that will continue to pace the pitch and score when needed. Altidore joins Adam Buksa (16 goals in 21) and Gustavo Bou (15 goals) as guys who will put pressure on the opposing defense up front. Bou’s potential departure this summer could see Altidore play a bigger role, which Altidore has highlighted as something he’s ready for during pre-season. However, this is just speculation and it may add up to a “three-headed monster” up front.
One rookie of note is first-round SuperDraft pick Jacob Jackson, a goaltender who Matt Turner says has high potential in the league as he develops.
“He’s a great lad. Eager to learn,” Turner said. “Reminds me a lot of myself when I came into MLS. Someone who needs work, but has things you can’t really teach. He’s lucky to be around guys who know what it’s like, to be around guys who know what it takes to climb the ladder. I think he was a steal in the draft. A bright future ahead of him. »
Other notable signings and transfers coming to Foxboro include Omar Gonzalez, Earl Edwards Jr., Christian Mafia, Wilfrid Kaptoum, AJ DeLaGarza, Amor Traustason, Maciel and Jon Bell. They will likely play a depth role for the Revolution barring injury or an unscheduled transfer.
Stay the same: An experienced midfielder is improving with Lletget, who had experience in Los Angeles under his head coach Bruce Arena. The other guys to have played under Arena are Gonzalez, DeLaGarza and Emmanuel Boateng. Lletget playing on the pitch of reigning league MVP Carles Gil, who posted 22 assists while scoring four times, is a good sign of stability for the midfielder.
Lletget won’t be a points machine, so expect central midfield to be a staple in the middle. Gil will be a mainstay in the line-up, as will DeJuan Jones in midfield. Andrew Farrell could again log nearly 3,000 minutes on the field on the defensive end, as he has for almost a decade, as can Brandon Bye and Henry Kessler.
Key pieces in defense and in the return to the front, leaving no doubt about the difference between the front and back lines. With depth, this team will look strong on both sides.
Time is counted: A notable offseason departure included star striker Tejon Buchanan, who officially left for Club Brugge after completing his loan spell in the summer. MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Matt Turner’s departure to Arsenal from the Premier League will take place on July 1 and could make waves on the defensive third as the Revs seek to fill his place.
Turner is entering his seventh season with the team and has played only significant time in four of them. In 97 games for the Revs, he posted 21 clean sheets and 346 saves. At Gillette he was elite – going 11-1-3 with four home shutouts – the 17 wins being a club record for wins in a season by a goaltender.
The list of accolades for the undrafted Fairfield alum is long. It’s easy to see: he’s a big part of the team, but if there’s a moment to sell, the Revs did the right thing by selling high.
The transfer fee for Turner cost $6 million, with a possibility of up to $10 million. Although payday was nice, Turner is a massive loss for the Revs going forward. Brad Knighton, Edwards Jr. or rookie Jacob Jackson will see the weather once he leaves.
Other New England departures include Collin Verfurth, Luis Caicedo and Scott Caldwell.
They first said: Revolution veterans and newcomers alike had a lot to keep to their own storylines this season, as well as club status and this season’s goals.
All the players echoed the same thing: doing their best to bring home a title.
A hot topic in the Revolution camp is Turner and his impending departure to the Premier League. Despite the move, he is still determined to get the Revs as far as he can in his remaining time with the club.
“My goal in coming here was to leave New England in a better place than it was when I got here,” Turner told the Revs media team. “I think we’re on the right track for those things. To help new guys like Jozy and Seb get acclimated and help them understand what it means to be a Revolution player and enjoy my time. I’m really excited for this first half of the season to get some games and find my consistency.
Upon joining the Revs, Altidore said the recent success of a team steeped in history was the draw, along with a passionate fanbase and motivation to clinch the team’s first league title.
“I’m just thrilled to be here and settled in so easily with the guys,” Altidore told the Revolution media team last week. “All the fans know about the New England Revolution, and they have a rich history, but they couldn’t get over the hurdle. … Looking for places that try to push you, and come in a place that hasn’t won (an MLS Cup), that’s going to be in demand. I’m just excited to be a part of it.
The Revolution likely won’t repeat as winners of the Supporters’ Shield, but will still put together a strong season that can put them in position for a playoff berth. The usual suspects from Los Angeles, Seattle, New York and Philadelphia will also be in contention – with the latter two likely to be a first-round duo for the Revs if they make the playoffs. Turner’s start will hurt, but it’s possible defense and offense will relieve some of the pressure to make whoever is in goal more comfortable as the games progress.
The offense is strong, the defense is about the same, and Arena will return to his winning ways as one of the greatest coaches of all time in North American soccer. Altidore and Lleget are big pick-ups who can take the team forward, but the uncertainty on goal in the latter stages of the season will leave it in doubt whether the team can pull it off when the season enters the final weeks.