Updated: Mar 7
ROBC Vol. 1 No. 3, March 7, 2023
Matt: The first two games are in the books. Even though it’s only been eight days, it’s already a historic season. To my shock and surprise, this is the first time the Revs have won the first two games of a season!
Josh: First time ever?! Well, I had no doubt. But you wouldn’t be the first person to say I’m an optimist or cheering for my team with heart first. How cool is it for the season to start like this!?
Matt: I’ll take it! While the Revs wore their blue “Liberty” kits and won both matches, they lined up differently against very different opponents. Arena started with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Vrioni at the 9 against Charlotte, but the goal didn’t come until the end, after Vrioni had subbed off. The Revs started the game against Houston in a sort of 4-1-2-1-2 formation, which helped the team move the ball across the field more consistently to create opportunities.
Josh: I’ll have to admit, the Liberty blue and the R crest are growing on me. As is a flexible Coach and team who can meet the opponents where they are and challenge them back. Also be willing to not start Vrioni in the second game and see what the different chemistry would produce.
Matt: I had to remind myself to be patient in the season opener. The Revs were away, it was the first game, and the huge crowd was emotional. To the Revs benefit, Charlotte appeared too revved up at the beginning of the game and got in their way with foul after foul. Even at home, where you sort of expect the ref to be more deferential to the home team. At the same time, Charlotte got a lot of shots off, most of them easy saves for Petrovic. While the end of game stats seemed pretty even, it wasn’t until the second half that both teams were in a good zone and working steadily together. I worried that the Revs would walk away with a weak moral victory and only one point. Noel Buck made a huge play, heading the ball back to their offensive end, where Bye quickly collected it. Kessler urged Bye to make the key pass/shot that he was able to knock in. BTW, Noel Buck is pretty good. The Revs should update the website roster so his name is on there.
Josh: Petrovic made it look easy out there, which isn’t unexpected, but so exciting to see when you’re filling the shoes of someone like Matt Turner. Yeah, so this Buck kid <phew!>. Do they only list players over 18 on their website? But seriously MLS clubs - people do still read websites and you should keep the support team as active there as they are on Instagram.
Matt: Romney was great as well, pairing with Kessler to help keep a clean sheet and not put Petrovic in some tough situations. That continued against Houston the following week – kudos to Arena for bringing him to Foxborough!
Josh: While we weren’t exactly right picking our starting XI, the concerns about the left side of the field from Jones up to Borrero were quickly soothed. Then they faced the traffic cones in the freezing cold. During the first 20 minutes, it looks like the Houston midfield was tripping up the Revolution efforts. But like all good teams, keep knocking on the door and then find your way through and around.
Matt: Arena set the lineup for the notcurrentlydynamic Dynamo and it worked. Not only did it create space for the Revs to spread out Houston and get them on their heels, I think the formation was perfect for Captain Carles. He seems to have had general admission to most areas of the pitch for a while now, and having the two wingers up front thinned out the Houston back line to the point of pain near the end of the game.
Josh: C’mon, Carles. If anyone thought his excellence was unsustainable, some of those passes looked like they were animated by Pixar - picture perfect. And both Borrero and Wood shook off their earlier miscommunications and kept the Musket Men busy! Bye just made it look pretty in the 65th minute.
Matt: So my big three from the first two matches: 1. Romney and Kessler are anchoring a fantastic back line. While at the end of last season I would get a little antsy when an opponent was moving the ball quickly, not so this past Saturday. 2. Latif Blessing is getting it done on the right. He and Brandon Bye are developing a great partnership that is going to only get better. 3. The next-gen Revs of Buck, Rennicks, Rivera, Bajraktarevic, and Panayotou are a solid set of players that are able to succeed at this level this season.
Josh: 1. I like seeing Dejuan Jones continuing to build on his international experience to help protect and collaborate with his Revs teammates. 2. Petrovic is somehow underestimated because he makes it look easy. The other teams aren’t kicking it straight at him on purpose. 3. Let’s keep this strong lineup active to scoop up a few more points, but then I agree that I’d like to see more of the Revs depth when they have some distance, like we could have against Houston.
Matt: On to LAFC, the reigning MLS champions who are efficient, fast, and furious opponents. While Charlotte beat themselves for a good chunk of the opener and Houston was occupied working through its own issues, LAFC isn’t doing any of this. On the contrary, they came into this season ready and hungry for more success. To the Revs benefit, LAFC’s opener was postponed by 4 months, so they will have played only one regular season game, yet they will have also played against Costa Rica’s LD Alajuelense just three days prior. Even though LAFC looks like a strong favorite, they still have to play the game. And they want to win this one, it isn’t a friendly or throwaway game. So hopefully the Revs can come into SoCal and steal more than one point.
Josh: Even though 2022 wasn’t the best Revs campaign, they are still respected as a threat to LAFC’s multi-repeat year, so I would expect them to play hard. Heck, I just hope the team gets out to Cali like tomorrow so they can get used to starting a game so late! And while of course we don’t want to see injuries, LAFC will be playing NE only two days after the first Champions League game, so we can hope for fatigue.
And then there’s the Nashville Soccer Club (thank you, Nashville ownership for agreeing that they play soccer) the following Saturday back at home. Zimmerman has been stepping up, but I think the Revs can keep him on his heels. Tough couple of games, but I bet the Revs enjoy another 4 points to stay toward the top of the Eastern Conference.
Matt: Again, the Revs have another advantage here. Mukhtar is gradually coming back from a hip injury, so Nashville’s key offensive player for the last few seasons is not at full strength. Because he’s on my fantasy team, I hope he comes back at full strength…after March 18. Lots to look forward to, lots to hype. Boateng! Petrovic! Romney! Buck! Carles! Kessler! Blessing! So many things went right in the last two games there is a lot to be psyched about. So let’s do it! Bring the Fight! Go Revs!
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