1.) New England Revolution is not playing as poorly as they did during their CCL collapse in March/April, but they aren’t demonstrating a consistent string of results either. How would you categorize the team’s form right now?
I think frustrating is the word that comes to mind but I also don’t think this Revs season was unexpected to a degree at least as far as the inconsistency. Yes, the CCL collapse against Pumas stung and the Revs have let other results slip away including that 1-1 draw with the Philadelphia Union in late May where the Revs put up a 3.0 xG on 4 of 22 shooting and only scored via a penalty and gave up an equalizer moments later.
The 10-game unbeaten streak was nice however even though it had more draws than wins in it. The Revs were always going to have some sort of transition midseason with their outgoing players and I’ve always maintained the Revs were playing a split season in 2022. The first half was all about the CCL run and the second half was getting new players acclimated for a playoff run. New England was never going to maintain their Shield winning form and win every game by one goal, but while I think this is a playoff team, it is a little disappointing for the Revs to currently be on the outside looking in at the halfway mark even if New England is still within striking distance of 4th place and a home game in November.
2.) Without Adam Buksa and Matt Turner, who are the next men up? How is the team adapting without two stars?
Well, I can tell everyone that we are all just wicked excited for Djordje Petrovic in goal. In just a few short weeks the Serbian international signed from Cukaricki already has a highlight reel full of ridiculous double saves and a couple of standout performances against NYCFC in both Open Cup and league play. As far as shot stoppers go, Petrovic is already pretty darn good and is only going to get better. Yes, distribution wise he’s made a few mistakes being too aggressive going forward with the ball that have led to costly turnovers but you can see the talent and potential he already has.
Albanian international Giacomo Vrioni is still sorting out his visa paperwork but when he does join up with the Revs as a DP it will be to take over as the #9 in Adam Buksa’s role. Vrioni already has the resume of an established goal scorer and he’s not just an aerial threat either. The other newcomer is Colombian Dylan Borrero as a U22 Initiative signing who is also settling in quite nicely into the starting lineup. Not entirely a like for like Tajon Buchanan replacement, but pretty close, I think Borrero is a little more natural in the middle of the field but the ability to just beat someone in space is something the Revs did miss early in the year. Really excited to see how he and Sebastian Lletget combine tactically in the attacking midfield on either side of Carles Gil in a role that isn’t quite a shuttling center mid nor an always stay wide winger but somewhere in between.
3.) What do the Revs look like going into the back half of the season? Are they a playoff contender?
Playoff contender, yes. MLS Cup contender however depends on how much Vrioni adds up front and if the Revs make any other additions. New England did well to secure the Petrovic and Borrero signings before the end of the offseason window and were able to quickly secure Vrioni at the beginning of July to replace Buksa, but if the Revs are going to win that elusive MLS Cup they’ll need to spend the next few months building up their chemistry and form for a big playoff run. We saw NYCFC kind of underachieve in the regular season last year but their talent carried them to the Cup and there’s no reason to think the Revs couldn’t do something similar.
The reigning league MVP in Carles Gil, big time golazo machine Gustavo Bou, a cast of talented newcomers, one of the best fullback duos in the league in DeJuan Jones and Brandon Bye, and veterans like Polster, Farrell, McNamara, and Boateng absolutely have the talent to pull this off. Winning the Shield in record fashion last year was not a fluke, the core of this Revs team is talented and the pieces they’ve replaced have already shown to have a lot of potential. It’s up to Bruce Arena and the rest of the coaching/front office staff to get this squad to realize that full potential because this championship window is about as open as it’s going to be but the new look Revs model as a selling team makes it difficult to maintain regular season form if a couple of major pieces get sold every couple of summers. New England is making strides to catch up to the rest of the league as far as DP spending and their new training ground, but the playoffs will always be such a crapshoot so at this point I’ll take a meh regular season and a barnstorming Cup run for 2022.
4.) Are there any notable injuries? What are your score/lineup predictions?
No injuries and only Andrew Farrell out on red card suspension so Jon Bell gets the start. Matt Polster came on as a second half sub at Yankee Stadium and could be in line for his first start since his return from injury.
4-2-3-1: Petrovic; Jones, Bell, Kessler, Bye; Kaptoum, Polster; Borrero, Gil, Lletget; Bou
Maybe the best lineup available for the Revs currently though that other CDM spot next to Polster has been in flux this year. The Revs need a rebound game and play the Union well but at best this is a 1-1 draw though with the form Philly is in Petrovic standing on his head might not be enough.