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New England Revolution 2024 Preview - Revs Bring Their Own (Boston Tea) Party With A New Coach, New Keeper, New Look, Looking For New Result

ROBC Vol. 2 No. 1, Feb 17 2024



Matt: It’s been a busy couple of months for MLS - soon after Columbus brought home the silverware on December 9th, teams were hard at work reshaping their rosters and your New England Revolution were no exception. Ten days into the offseason the Revs announced the hire of Caleb Porter as Head Coach, who will hopefully bring his MLS Cup experience with Portland and Columbus to bear fruit in Gillette Stadium. Roster changes kept flowing steadily, especially if you kept up with rumors on Twitter. Before long, the direction of the 2024 Revs became clearer.


Josh: And Coach Porter also has NCAA Championship experience with the almighty Akron Zips! Fear the ‘Roo, Matt. Fear the ‘Roo. But seriously, it sounds like he’s got quite a pedigree, including a brief MLS career on the San Jose Earth-Clash. And we also quickly got confirmation that thank goodness Boateng was formally returning and would be supported by recent San Jose Earthquake, free-agent-of-whom-I’m-a-fan, Jonathan Mensah. These three decisions are giving me, and I imagine a lot of Revs fans, a boost of confidence and excitement as we ready our calendars for 2024.


Matt: So let’s build out this roster talk, starting with the new GK: Henrich Ravas is the starting keeper for the Revs, bringing 6 feet 5 inches of Slovak journeyman goalkeeping to the Revolution. The Revs have a pretty decent rep for recruiting this position, so Revs Nation will wait patiently (for now) to see his work between the sticks. It’s a team effort back there, and hopefully he’s developed a good rapport with a darn good defensive line to keep the ball out of our net. Stalwart Earl Edwards Jr. and freshly up from Revs II keeper Jacob Jackson fill out this position for the club.


Josh: As you know, I don’t follow a lot of international soccer, but after the last several seasons, I have all the confidence in the Goalkeeper recruitment, coaching, and plan. I’d be frustrated for EEJ, after how well he performed in last year’s Open Cup, and so quickly filled Petrovic’s absence, but maybe it’s a closer competition than we outsiders know.


Matt: On the defense, all three veteran centerbacks Romney, Kessler, and Farrell have returned, and they are complemented by fullbacks Dejuan Jones, Nick Lima, backups Mensah, Peyton Miller (up from Revs II), Spaulding, and Suarez. Brandon Bye, a force to be reckoned with on the right, should be back from ACL surgery and rehab by May. 


Josh: Already shouted out Mensah, and I love watching Farrell grind it out, but Romney and Kessler certainly proved themselves in the middle. I’m cautious about Nick Lima, having seen him at SJ and Austin, but he’s solid. I hope that we get to see him explode in the Eastern Conference. And Dejuan, actually FOUR MORE YEARS, Jones is the best investment that New England can make, in my humble opinion.


Matt: Couldn’t agree more. Jones has done great work, and from my brief conversation with him a few years ago, is also a great human being. To the midfield! OF COURSE Captain El Rey Carles Gil and hermano Nacho Gil, Noel Buck, Matt Polster, Ian Harkes, late 2023 addition Mark Anthony Kaye, back from injury Tommy McNamara, supersub Ema Boateng (thanks for not waiting so long this year to bring him back, Revs!), and Damien Rivera. So much strength in this midfield. If this crew can raise pass accuracy by just 5% more, that ball will slice through the midfield faster than I can say, well, almost anything.


Josh: Please Tommy Mac - stay healthy! I missed you last year and can’t wait to see you clunk your way through midfield, so we can enjoy the finesse of Gil & Gil. I have to imagine the young ones will only continue to improve in ways that will excite all of us watching the Red & Blue.


Matt: As for the forwards, the big switch this year is the position of Esmir Bajraktarević, who was listed as a 2023 midfielder but is on the 2024 roster as a Forward. Porter has stated Esmir is the Revs starting RW (I’m sure at least until Borrero comes back). I like this move - Esmir has a nose for the net and is well on his way into developing into a great finisher. I’ve got Chancalay and Virioni starting along with him, along with Wood, Bolma, and Malcolm Curtenius Fry, up this year from Revs II. Fans were sad to see Gustavo Bou go, but fellow Argentine Chancalay will help them move on - he is a force to be reckoned with in the offensive end and key to the Revs chances of success this season.


Josh: Hmm… I guess it’s up to Coach Porter, but last year’s Revs LOVED having Wood up front, and he proved he earned the striker spot with a lot of smart play. The Revs Fans are lucky to have a few good options that I think we’ll see play out in March.


Matt: You make a strong point - time after time Wood demonstrated his uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time to put a play on the net. The Revs Team Big Picture, IMHO, is very fuzzy. The preseason was very much preseason this year - new coach, new system, giving everyone the opportunity to put in the minutes and work out the kinks. Romney said as much in an interview after the Revs held the Union to a 0-0 preseason draw. The Revs lost 5-2 to Cincinnati in the final preseason matchup, but it was clear that Porter was using the game to serve fitness and development for the full roster rather than going for the W.


Josh: Also dropped to Orlando, and I thought there was more, but can’t find the reference. BUT I agree with Coach Porter in general, and for this year, I think it seems extra-suited to have a preseason where you try different combinations, stretch some legs, and see how training and the off-season affected everyone. I don’t follow it closely because it doesn’t matter, and I appreciate a Coach and a Team who will take it like it should be - try stuff before the records start counting.


Matt: Kit Talk Time: I’m planting my flag and saying the “Boston Tea Party” kit is a success. At my place of work I was able to gather some opinionated and completely unshy soccer fans, and they gave this kit an average of 8.25 out of 10. This impressed me - it was a quick snapshot from soccer fans who would rather drop 2’s than 8’s. While a few were full-on ‘clean look’ fans who prefer last year’s alternate “Defiance” jersey, everyone else was very positive. While some didn’t love the red sleeves (wanting matching blue with red stripes), the overall opinion was positive. And I know that jerseys look better in person at least 80% of the time, so I think this kit is a win.


Josh: Of course you would - it’s right up your alley! I think it’s a huge win, and I like the promotion and the details. I have to admit, the R is growing on me, and with the shoutout to India Trading Company specific to this year’s jersey, I’m all but on board with the R and the sash. Not the “NO” sign combo, but the separate elements for sure. They’re gonna look great on MLS Season Pass.


Matt: Just wondering: last year after each Revs win a member of The Fort was invited to paint a red slash, like on the “Defiance Kit,” so….what about this year? I’m not sure how the “Boston Tea Party” kit would translate into a postgame celebration. Maybe they’ll keep the red paint slash since the Defiance Kit still the alternate jersey, maybe for years to come. 


Josh: I hadn’t thought of that - so good. The red slash is good, but it would have to be over the other team’s logos, right? Or is it just a standalone slash? I need more information. Top of the dome - hang lanterns for each win, cups of tea, soaking white banners with the opponents logos in tea so they look all aged, and parchment, and ruined by the jettison of tea?


Matt: As for my predictions on the 2024 season, they are all very conditional. Will Vrioni lock in? Will Ravas stand up when it counts? How will the team settle out at CB, and what about Buck with possibly one foot out the door to the Prem? Will they quickly resolve their finishing issues from last season? 


Josh: I predict a perfect season with no major injuries and all the hardware. 


Matt: I’ll take the NO on that bet.


Josh: But seriously, the Revs have a new manager that the team seems to be energized by, who knows what it takes to win, and the Revs were creeping on the door to greatness all season… I’ll plant a flag - home field advantage for the Playoffs.


Matt:  It’s good that the Revs are opening up the season with CONCACAF Champions Cup action to get their legs under them, but I suspect it won’t be until after they’ve faced DC, Toronto, Atlanta, and then Cincinnati in their first four regular season matches that I - or anyone - will be able to assess this year’s team with confidence. As for predictions on a starting lineup for this team, I have GK Ravas; D Jones, Lima, Kessler, and Romney; Midfield Carles Gil, Polster, and Buck, and Forwards Bajraktarević, Chancalay, and Vrioni. 


Josh: I’ll see your Ravas, Jones, Romney, raise you a Mensah, Farrell, match your Gil, Polster, Buck, add a Gil, same with Bajraktarević, and challenge you with Wood. Yeah, I’ll try a 4-4-2 for my twist on it. But I have seen no preseason, so everyone who reads this might laugh me off the blogcast. All I know is they are going to be tired by the time they get to Toronto. Will they play a slightly altered roster for CONCACAF to make sure they can start strong in the regular season? Toronto has made some smart player moves and will not go quietly after their rough 2023 campaign. We’ll see what unfolds starting Wednesday night!


Matt: And let’s not forget to mention a congratulations to Scott Caldwell on his retirement - the Revs second Homegrown to play in MLS, he played 9 seasons for the Revs and 2 for Real Salt Lake before hanging up his cleats. Fun fact: did you know he scored the winning goal for the University of Akron Zips Mens Soccer Team to defeat Louisville and win the Zips their first ever national athletic championship..wait for it…under coach Caleb Porter?


Josh: You know I love Disneyland, but I did not plan this “It’s a Small World” moment… How cool! Congratulations Mr Caldwell! I hope your next chapter is wherever and however you wish. Any chance we’ll see you supporting the Revs on the Training Pitch??


Matt: Go Revs! Protect the Fort! Bring the Fight! Spill the Tea!


Revs On Both Coasts Pre-Season “Way Too Early” Slyde-ing Scale of 1-10 for 2024

Category

Matt

Josh

Average

Offense

8

7.5

7.75

Midfield

8.5

9

8.75

Defense

8

8

8

GK

???

7.5

7.5x

Strategy/Coaching

8.5

8

8.25

Team Composure

9

9

9


2024 Season Prediction on the Revs Slyde-ing Scale:  8.35ish/10 - Looking forward to a great season!


Twitter and Instagram: @RevsCoasts


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