We were able to chat with Jake Catanese over at fellow SB Nation site The Bent Musket, to get some insight into the New England Revolution team the Union will face tonight.
Be sure to check out their page as well for a Philadelphia Union Q&A!
How did you feel about the Revolution’s performance in the MLS is back Tournament? Who was the MVP for NE?
I think overall New England will be satisfied by taking 5 points in three games with a win and two draws, however one of those draws, against DC United, was disappointing. New England’s defense was outstanding during the MLS is BACK tourney, led by Matt Turner in goal. The only blemish for the Revs defense was a late hospital ball back pass from center back Antonio Delamea that was pounced on by noted Revs killer Federico Higuain that equalized in what would be a 1-1 draw. There were a lot of positives to take away especially from a defense standpoint.
But aside from Turner, there weren’t any standout performances really. Carles Gil’s 12 key passes and one assist against the Montreal Impact proved why he’s so good and immeasurably valuable to the Revs but Gil will be out for the foreseeable future. If New England is going to be a playoff team in October, someone is going to have to step up in the chance creation department for the Revs.
Are you expecting any tactical changes now that the tournament is over? If so, or if not, why?
No, even with Carles Gil the Revs were playing a 4-2-3-1 with Gustavo Bou as a withdrawn striker/#10 type in the middle. I didn’t like this setup for New England as I think it plays Gil more as an in-cutting wide player and takes Bou to far away from goal to be a great finisher. But with Gil out, Arena seems committed to playing Bou as a #10 playmaker.
However, I do think the Revs will transition into much more of a countering team. Matt Polster at holding midfield is going to be a great addition to the starting lineup after Luis Caicedo went down for the year with injury. Adding Kekuta Manneh out wide to partner with Cristian Penilla and the Revs have a lot of speed options in the attack to work with. When you include the versatile Teal Bunbury, Kelyn Rowe, Diego Fagundez, and everyone’s favorite MLS legend Tommy McNamara, there are a lot of ways the Revs can adjust and win games late. We saw New England last year turn 1-goal deficits and turn them into ties, maybe we’ll see them take a few more ties and turn them into wins this year.
Last game between the Revolution & the Union had a lot of shots and action, but only the lone goal for the Union separated the sides in the end. What was your feeling about the Revolution after this game? Unlucky not to score? Frustrated with finishing?
If you look at some of the Revolution’s expected goal (xG) maps from the tournament, the Revs were able to create a lot of shots, but not a lot of “big” chances in and around the six yard box. This is nothing new for Revs fans, and has been an ongoing issue even when Lee Nguyen was pulling the strings. Overall, I think the Revs performed right around where we thought they would, and perhaps better on the defensive end. The Revs attack is a work in progress, undone a bit by the pandemic layoff.
Gustavo Bou is perhaps the true finisher the Revs have lacked the past few years, Carles Gil is good at soccer, and striker Adam Buksa looks the part of a hold-up/target man up top. But all three players haven’t really been able to get much time on the field together due to Gil’s injury woes and I think Buksa and Bou should be partnering up top rather than have Bou work in behind the lone striker. Regardless, I was looking for the Revs to build on last year and make the playoffs again in 2020 before making a bigger jump in 2021 and I still think this team can do that even with Gil sidelined for a few months.
Special thanks again to The Bent Musket!