The long-awaited debut of Jason Kreis on the Orlando City sideline for an MLS match happens tomorrow night at Camping World Stadium against the New England Revolution. Kreis takes over a club three points behind the Revs for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot after Adrian Heath admirably shepherded the Lions for their first year and a half in Major League Soccer, doing about as well as could be expected of the walking M*A*S*H unit he had to work with.
Both Heath and current assistant/former interim head coach Bobby Murphy presided over draws in their first match in charge of Orlando City and there’s little reason to think Kreis won’t do the same, when you consider that the Lions and Revs have fought to two 2-2 draws this season and three ties by that score in their first four meetings over two seasons. But, hope springs eternal so we’ll have to wait and see what the new gaffer comes up with tomorrow night.
In the meantime, our old friend Jake Catanese — a fine fellow, even if he has no appreciation for puns whatsoever — from The Bent Musket has graciously stopped by yet again to catch us up with the happenings in New England. I also answered his questions, which you can catch over at their place.
The last time Orlando City and New England met, Kei Kamara had not yet become a member of the Revs. How well has he fit into the side and has he been as expected? Better? Worse?
Jake Catanese: Kei Kamara fits in just fine with the New England Revolution. If my math is right the Revs have five wins out of 10 games with Kei in the lineup and though he only has three goals and no assists (included a wasted brace in a 3-2 loss to Montreal), the Revs are benefiting not just from Kamara's presence in the lineup but his consistency on the field as well. New England has been mostly decimated from injuries up front this year, with Charlie Davies and Juan Agudelo missing significant time and Teal Bunbury and rookie Femi Hollinger-Janzen seeing time up top for the Revs at the lone striker position. This means that Kei has had to play far more minutes than expected, including time in the U.S. Open Cup where he could be resting, but he's been an iron man for the Revs at a time when the desperately needed something after struggling in the first part of the season.
Earlier in the season when these teams met, New England was leading MLS in draws. Now that distinction falls to Orlando City. Additionally, these teams have fought to a pair of 2-2 draws this year (and three in four meetings). Why can’t these teams pick a winner?
JC: Ah yes, the Eternal 2-2 Draw Derby. That's never going to be a thing but the simple answer is that I think both of these teams play a similar style and therefore the "mirror matchup" will just naturally end in a tie. Of the four meetings, only one didn't end 2-2 and that was a 3-0 pasting at Gillette where the Revs beat a very shorthanded Orlando team. Part of the reason for New England's issues of not getting results early on, and still kind of an issue now, is their inability to finish chances. And it's not for lack of trying either, the Revs put double digit shots on target against Sean Johnson and the Chicago Fire last week and didn't score until the 85th minute. The Revs have had several good performances lead to draws or even losses this year and this road trip (at Orlando, at Toronto FC) is a big test for them if they want to separate themselves from the red line in the Eastern Standings.
How has New England’s transfer window gone so far and do you think anything else will happen before it closes?
JC: I think the Revs big move was the Kei Kamara trade and I don't see the club adding from the international market though DP midfielder Xavier Kouassi is signed and on the disabled list after suffering an ACL injury with his old club, FC Sion of Switzterland, late in the 2015-16 European season. But I wouldn't put it past the Revs to add perhaps another piece via trade as veterans Gershon Koffie and Je-Vaughn Watson have already proven that there is talent within MLS. The Revs are still short at center back, though London Woodberry has been fine recently. If there is a solid CB available within MLS (Matt Besler seems like a reach but I can dream) it wouldn't shock me to see the Revs’ front office work a little of their patented GAM/TAM/pick magic and acquire a player via that route.
Can you please give us your key injuries/suspensions, projected starting XI and score prediction?
JC: Starting XI (4-2-3-1) - Bobby Shuttleworth; Chris Tierney, Jose Goncalves, London Woodberry, Andrew Farrell; Je-Vaughn Watson, Scott Caldwell; Diego Fagundez, Lee Nguyen, Teal Bunbury; Kei Kamara.
Right now this is the Revs’ first choice lineup and it's been pretty solid the last few weeks. Watson is on a tear in all competitions, scoring last week in both USOC and MLS play, and has been covering at CDM for Gershon Koffie, who just returned from a lengthy injury but isn't ready for 90 minutes yet. Davies, Agudelo and Femi were all listed as out last week, along with backup left back Donnie Smith, so the Revs are really thin behind Kamara up top. Don't be surprised to see Kelyn Rowe start for Teal Bunbury just in case Teal is needed to spell up top at some point.
I want the Revs to win this 2-1, but I've seen this movie before, we know how this ends. It always ends 2-2.
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Big thanks to Jake from The Bent Musket for giving us some insight on tonight's opponents from New England.