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At the Halfway Point, Revs defeat Messy Messi-less Miami and Shorthanded Orlando City, We Look Ahead

ROBC Vol. 1 No. 9, June 19, 2023

Source: revolutionsoccer.net


Matt: Despite Miami kicking off with a strong press of 6 at the center line two Saturdays ago, the Revolution held strong and won out 3-1. Orlando, with starters Gallese (GK), Torres (MF), and Cartegena (MF) out for international duty came to town next and (thanks to Earl Edwards, Jr.) left soaking wet and with the same result. We’re one game past the halfway mark in the season, and the Revs are sitting in 3rd place behind Cincinnati and Nashville.


Josh: Cincinnati has hung in strong since the season began and Nashville has had a recent surge. Being in third at the halfway point, entering into International Duty, Summer Transfer Window, and Leagues Cup, is a great place to be. Shall we look back to see how we got here?


Matt: The Revs got off to a strong 4-1-1 record in the first 6 games. Latif Blessing joined Gil in the midfield while the team waited for the returns of Farrell on the defensive end and Bou on the offensive end. Giacomo Vrioni was the latest international signing buzz, and with him wearing #9 I was ready for his speedy transition to the MLS up front. The youth movement of Buck (who looked particularly ready for a starting role), Panayotou, and Bajraktarevic was in motion and the Revolution was underway.


Josh: But that’s not what we see out on the field now. What changed?


Matt: The Revs were beset by Henry Kessler’s injury on April 8th. Farrell was coming into form at the beginning of the season after his own injury, and the defense appeared a little fragile at times for a few weeks. New signing CB Dave Romney has been a huge part of the Revs success this season and was crucial during that transition, anticipating plays and reliably clearing the ball out of the defensive end. Unfortunately, Dylan Borrero went down with an ACL injury on the Gillette turf on April 29th and won’t be back until 2024. Add a smattering of minor injuries to Bye, Buck, Gil, and more, and we had some weeks where fans had no idea what the formation would look like. Boateng stepped up admirably to fill in for Borrero, Dejuan Jones shifted over to the right at one point to compensate, and Makoun was sent out to hold down the left third on the defense, plus other myriad shifts to get it done. It wasn’t until the last two games against Miami and Orlando that the Revs appeared to be in form again to put up strong numbers, even if it was against teams facing their own challenges.


Josh: I didn’t research every team’s injury statistics, but I know we’ve talked about the long list of injuries for our Revolution. Borrero is probably the biggest loss right now, but thankfully Wood and Vrioni found their footing, and we’re seeing La Pantera return to form.


Matt: Petrovic. ‘Nuff said. And Earl Edwards Jr. had some great saves which helped secure the victory against Orlando. As for the defense, Kessler won’t be back for another couple of months at minimum, so Romney and Farrell are must-haves for fans to not get the vapors for 90 minutes every Saturday. Jones and Bye are great on their sides of the pitch, and Buck does a lot of great work on the defensive end as well. While the two anticipated signings could be on the offensive side of things, I hope Arena gives strong consideration to adding a center back if there are candidates that would be a good fit. Maybe Romney has a twin?......


Josh: They were waiting for Farrell. And I’m still waiting for Tommy Mac. And thanks to International Play, we got to see Petrovic’s backup - not clean sheets, but now we know we have the resources.


Matt: I’m mostly happy with the midfield. Carles Gil is the navigator of the action in so many ways, and I hope his rapport and wisdom sharing will continue in the second half. Buck is totally getting it done, and playing beyond his years, not letting more experienced players muscle him away. There’s a chance Nacho may return in a few weeks, hopefully by the end of July at the latest. And Tommy McNamara is also expected to return soon, which helps us especially in the defensive midfield side of things. Finally, I was totally pleased with the arrival of Latif Blessing and LOVE the fact that the Revolution helped him bring his family here to the US. That being said, he’s still working on getting back to form after the needed time away. If the Revs hope to get past the first round of the playoffs, Blessing needs to be his best self.


Josh: He’s there, but he’s not leading. My unofficial statistic is that he leads the teams in disconnected passes. It’s hard when you have an elite player like Carles Gil to give him someone to work with or support him. I think the New England midfield has to learn to play differently than they did before they joined the squad, and have a clear role as a second wing or the guy who can sprint back and recover quickly.


Matt: On the offense, new addition Bobby Wood is only one behind Carles Gil with 6 goals, a veteran striker who has been a solid fit. Gustavo Bou is showing sparks and a return to form, banging in one from just outside the box to the far post against Orlando. Lovin’ that. The Altidore Era is officially over, which opens a spot for a striker in addition to Borrero’s replacement. Two things I hope the team focuses on: 1. Someone who will pair with Vrioni and win in the air in front of the goal. While Vrioni has started to show flashes of potential – see: his brace against SKC in March – he looks like he’s flying a little too solo. HELP HIM OUT, PEOPLE. And, the Revs need someone to help them keep improving their set pieces. Some progress has been made, but the finish isn’t there yet.


Josh: The Revs enter the transfer window with all three DP spots locked in and probably should keep them where they are - Gil, Bou, and Vrioni. While we love seeing them put together scrappy and rebound goals, wouldn’t it be fun to see them get organized and put on more technical clinics?


Matt: If the refs let them. Both Miami and Orlando started their games with a strategy of “if you can’t beat them, kick and grab them.” It’s not good for the league if referees let weak teams hack their way against opponents. It almost happened against Miami. Just watch the game replay and see how many Miami players back into Revs during aerial challenges - you’ll lose count. Orlando used more of the standard smack and kick variety. Yes, there is physical play, but letting a team draw weak foul after weak foul weakens the league as a whole. Quality players won’t want to be here if they know they’ll be hacked to pieces. From a team and money perspective, that puts a lot of club investment at risk.


Josh: Quakes, Galaxy, and the Revs all losing large chunks of, or full, seasons from key players due to ACL injuries. Maybe the recent surge in Red Cards is indicative that the Officials hear you, and the rest of us fans, in tightening up some of the aggressive and careless play.


Matt: Maybe, but some of those were the result of games just getting out of control. But I’ll stop my rant. In other news, you might have heard that a midfielder named Lionel Messi is coming to Inter Miami…and it looks like he’s bringing friends. This is good for everyone in the league – though better for some than others, obviously – and these are the ways I see it affecting the Revs in the near future: 1. Along with many other teams that play on turf, will this fast-track a move to grass? Injury after injury, and grass that Messi would play on could mean the Revs sell 65,000 tickets instead of 22,000 tickets, plus potential playoff game revenue, 2. Would Messi and friends’ presence make the Eastern Conference more attractive to potential signees? I can only dream that we could see an Mbappé name on the back of a Revs jersey some day…, and 3. This is huge for AppleTV’s MLS Pass, moving the subscription to the international level. That will only help MLSPass 2.0 and 3.0 in terms of having $$ to work with. Oh, and 4. Would a really big signing for the Revs mean we’d finally see a NE Revs 3rd kit? Adidas, HMU for my ideas and concept kits!


Josh: Why sell more tickets, when you can just charge ten times as much? I think all of MLS expected Beckham to put together a big money team in Miami. We hadn’t seen it until he somehow outbid the surging Middle East market and got the man with all the hardware to grab some of MLS’s Season Pass and Adidas money. And two years before the US-hosted World Cup? Couldn’t happen at a better time for S.O.C.C.E.R.


Matt: So looking ahead, assuming that we find out about those two additional Revs signings in the next months, I think we are looking forward to a strong second half. Equal numbers of home and away games, with tilts against Minnesota (away), Colorado (away), and Austin (home), I can be optimistic for the Revs to stay at least in 3rd or 4th in the conference. Also, here’s to a good Americana jersey!


Josh: Last two years have been strong, so I’m banking that the blob art makes its way to the Americana jersey and you can keep $85 in your pocket this time. Hanging out in third place, with over 30 points going into the Summer - great place to be.


Matt: Over the next three weekends we have Toronto at home, and away games at Cincinnati and the Red Bulls. If we see clean soccer from all three teams, I think the Revs have a clear shot at 7 points out of 9. Revs should hold their own against Toronto and the Red Bulls, but will have to work for at least one point against the former-Rev-Pat Noonan-led Cincinnati team.


Josh: I like Optimistic Matt! Let’s see them Protect the Fort and keep the strength as the humidity builds in Foxboro.


Matt: Go Revs! Bring the Fight!


Revs Slyde-ing Scale of 1-10 for Games 17 & 18

Final Score on the Revs Slyde-ing Scale: 7.6/10 - Trending in the right direction, keep Bringing the Fight, you Revs!


Twitter and Instagram: @RevsCoasts



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