With the new MLS season drawing near, we are excited to bring you the EiF Soccer MLS Preview. In conjunction with our EiF Exclusive Interview With Diego Fagundez, this is the New England Revolution Season Preview.
New England Revolution 2017 Season Preview: After missing out on a playoff spot on goal difference last season, what do the Revs need to do to alter their fortunes this time around?
2016 Finish: 7th in Eastern Conference (42 points)
Predicted Finish: 4th in Eastern Conference
Key Player: Diego Fagundez
Arrivals: Napo Matsoso, Brian Wright, Benjamin Angoua, Antonio Delamea Milnar
Departures: Bobby Shuttleworth, Gershon Koffie, Charlie Davies, Sambinha, José Goncalves, Darrius Barnes, Steve Neumann Projected Lineup: 4-4-2 – Cropper; Tierney, Angoua, Delamea, Farrell; Fagundez, Kouassi, Nguyen, Rowe; Agudelo, Kamara
New England Revolution Preview – Reasons to be Excited
New England fans have always had a wealth of attacking talent to enjoy, and this year is no different. Kei Kamara has been in form in preseason matches so far, notching 3 goals in the first 3 matches. After a relatively disappointing goal haul last year, Revolution fans will be ecstatic to see Kamara back in among the goals. However, it is not just Kamara that has been performing so far in preseason; the Revs attacking players have all looked very dynamic. In their most recent preseason match against the Colorado Rapids, the four attacking players for the Revs, Agudelo, Kamara, Nguyen, and Rowe, showed glimpses of brilliant attacking fluidity and creativity in the final third.
The Revs conceded the sixth-most goals in the league last season, but the acquisitions of Benjamin Angoua from Guingamp and Antonio Milnar Delamea from Slovenian side Olimpija Ljubljana will provide much-needed defensive reinforcements for the upcoming campaign. Angoua has nearly 20 caps for the Ivory Coast senior team, and Delamea made his first appearance for Slovenia in November. The presence of two full internationals will certainly fill the gap in the defense left by the departure of José Goncalves, who started 29 games last season.
New England Revolution Season Preview – Reasons to be Worried
The Revs still have not quite found an ample replacement for Jermaine Jones, who was an absolute star for the team until his sudden departure last season. Their attacking talent is excellent, and their defense has the potential to be extremely solid with new additions, but they still lack that presence in the midfield. Having a destroyer-type player like Jermaine Jones in the midfield, or even as a center back, adds an edge to the side, which is currently balanced more towards flair than brawn. Additionally, having a player like Jones stepping in and winning the ball creates the possibility for counter attacks, which the Revolution’s attacking players would be excellent at taking advantage of. They are big shoes to fill, but the Revs need to find a new player to boss the midfield.
Additionally, Charlie Davies has left the club to join the Phliadelphia Union. Davies has always been a warrior, famously returning to the field from injury after being involved in a horrific car crash in 2009. He has scored goals wherever he has been, and Davies also contributed 10 goals to the Revs’ cause last year. The fans will certainly be sad to see him go.
New England Revolution Season Preview – Player to Watch
Diego Fagundez is a 22-year-old MLS veteran. He was signed by the Revolution at age 15, and scored a goal and won a penalty as a substitute on his MLS debut at the age 16. Since then, he has reached 150 appearances and 30 goals, he has helped his team reach an MLS Cup Playoff Final, and he has shattered the MLS records for youngest player to reach 100 appearances and youngest player to score 25 goals.
When we spoke with Fagundez earlier this week he was humble, professional, and focused, and we believe that 2017 will be a huge year for the Uruguayan. With the likes of Agudelo and Nguyen playing alongside him, Fagundez will have plenty of opportunities to use his speed and movement to create chances for both himself and others. The Revs’ attacking players have the ability and intelligence to be fluid and interchangeable in their movements, and this suits Fagundez because it will give him more time and space to dribble, make runs in behind, or pick out the pass that unlocks the defense.
New England Revolution Season Preview – Season Outlook
The Revs have some outstanding attacking talents, and much of their success will hinge on the form and healthiness of the likes of Lee Nguyen, Juan Agudelo, Kelyn Rowe, and Diego Fagundez. These four combined for 28 goals and 18 assists last season and will need to continue to produce in 2017. The addition of two promising, though unproven in the MLS, defenders should help to shore up the Revolution’s defensive woes. All signs point to the Revs having a strong season and now it is up to them to live up to their potential and prove that they deserve to gain their place back in the playoffs.
Written by Nick Hawkins, in consultation with EiF writer Ryan Bellavance.