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.
1) did something happen, or are there only 3 mls teams the Revolution & Union are allowed to play?
I guess during a pandemic trying to limit travel is a good idea...but yeah, having to deal with you guys seemingly every week is getting annoying. At least it’s throwball season now too, so Fly Eagles Fly.
2) how did you feel about the most recent game against the Union? What changes do you think will be made for the upcoming game?
The Revolution’s shooting was absolutely woeful against the Union back on August 20th, 1 of 15 shooting and barely making Andre Blake work at all is not a recipe to win games. However, that last game against the Union was one of the matches the Revs experimented with Cristian Penilla at the #10 role...and well, let’s just say it was a bad idea and New England has moved away from that.
Even better news, Lee Nguyen is back and available for selection and it would not shock me to see him start in the midfield. Whether or not that’s at the #10 or #8 role may still be undetermined but New England at least did slightly better in their last match against Chicago after a woeful 0-2 loss vs. NYCFC.
3) How have the revolution performed so far, now that the MLS season has officially started?
Given everything that’s gone on in this crazy year of 2020, I think the Revs are right about where they should be. With the addition of Adam Buksa up front, the hope was to unleash the DP trio of Bou, Buksa and Gil this year, but Gil’s injury and the pandemic flipped the script on New England. Buksa is still adjusting and I think the long layoff hurt him in particular because he never got a consistent chance to build chemistry with the rest of the Revs attackers. The Revs should be a playoff team but like the MLS is Back tournament, I don’t know how much of threat they can be to make a deep run without Gil. Can they be a tough out? Yes, and hopefully that experience without Gil will benefit them when he returns fully in 2021.
4) what have been the strengths/weaknesses of this team?
Playmaking and creativity. Hands down without Carles Gil the Revs have struggled to create chances. Like REALLY struggles. Gil had 12 key passes against the Montreal Impact in the MLS is Back group stage, which is absurd, and that was only a 1-0 win. The Revs have been a mediocre finishing team this year even when they do create chances, and they really have lacked “big” chances in and around the six yard box.
Defensively however has been a really pleasant surprise. Aside from Matt Turner’s usual heroics in goal, rookie Henry Kessler has been outstanding and is an early contender for Rookie of the Year. Brandon Bye still has his ups and downs but appears to have locked down the right back spot. Alexander Buttner has already notched a couple of assists while starting 6 games and I think if the Revs can get the fullbacks involved offensively they can really take off down the stretch with the additions of Tommy Mac, Nguyen, and Kekuta Manneh.
5) predicted lineup and score?
I’m going to call this a 4-4-2 Diamond - Turner, Buttner, Kessler, Farrell, Bye; Polster, Rowe-McNamara, Nguyen; Bou, Buksa.
The Revs can alter this group into a 4-2-3-1 by playing Bou at the #10/withdrawn striker role and moving someone, probably McNamara, alongside Polster at the holding midfield. If the Revs want more speed on the outside, Bunbury, Penilla, Manneh are available either to start or off the bench. I’m really hoping that Bruce Arena can start really changing games with five subs available and a lot of versatility in the squad.
Overall, I still think the Revs and Union are just built to counteract each other. I think it will be a far more lively game than the meh display of 0-0 from a few weeks ago, but a 1-1 draw I think is in the cards and it would be epic for Lee Nguyen to find the scoresheet on his return.
Special thanks again to The Bent Musket!