A date with the Revs means that I took some time to catch up with Jake Catanese, one of the senior editors over at SBNation sister site The Bent Musket. As to be expected, Jake gave us some excellent insight into a Revs team that looks very different to the last time they faced off against the Lions.
Obviously, Adam Buksa is now headed to RC Lens. Bruce Arena recently spoke about how the Revs don’t plan on reinventing themselves, but how will Buksa be replaced?
Jake Catanese: In the short term, the Revs are going to go with Gustavo Bou up top as a lone striker with Jozy Altidore and Homegrown Justin Rennicks rounding out the depth chart. It’s entirely possible that New England is targeting another striker to join in the summer window, but we don’t have any specific names yet on the rumor mill. But if the Revs sign a Young DP-type player, they would be able to reinforce the roster with other U22 players like Dylan Borrero.
Tactically, the Revs will likely stick with a 4-2-3-1 and use an attacking midfield grouping of Carles Gil, Sebastian Lletget, and Borrero to support Bou as the lone striker. But Bou and Buksa are two very different strikers and the Revs won’t be able to generate the half and/or second chances they used to get from pumping in crosses into the box at Buksa. Bou, however, opens up more options for the Revs on the counter and already seems to have a solid chemistry going with Borrero, who joined the team at the end of the primary window in April and is starting to get minutes. Bruce, I think, is telling a half truth here, because while the formation might largely stay the same, the Revs are going to have to adjust how they attack in and around the box just because of how dominant Buksa was in the air. Short term, I think the Revs can rebound and make the playoffs this year, with or without a new option up top, but the long-term roster building and decisions after the World Cup in this off-season are far more interesting and important for the team going forward
Matt Turner is also headed out the door to Arsenal. Former Orlando City player Earl Edwards Jr. has gotten some games in goal this year and Djordje Petrovic started in the Revs’ win over Sporting Kansas City on Sunday. Do you know who will be starting going forward, or is that up in the air?
JC: Petrovic has been tabbed as the long-term starter and the team is very high on him, but Edwards did really well at the beginning of the year and could find himself on the bench and getting spot starts with veteran backup Brad Knighton at some point this year. The Revs were able to use their Open Cup games to get Petrovic acclimated to the team and he did really well in those games despite allowing an extra-time winner to NYCFC with a second- to third-choice lineup. Obviously there will be some let-off from the high standards Matt Turner has set in net the last few years, but as a pure shot stopper, you can see the talent Petrovic has in that department and the growth he likely will have as he develops other parts of his game under keeping guru Kevin Hitchcock. With draft pick Jacob Jackson at Revs II racking up shoutouts in the MLS NEXT Pro league, the Revs’ goalkeeping corps of Petrovic, Edwards, and Jackson seems to be set for the foreseeable future of the post-Matt Turner era.
New England is now on a six-game unbeaten streak stretching all the way back to April. What’s been key to New England getting results during this run?
JC: Simply, the Revs have just been healthy, especially at the back of the formation. Henry Kessler missed the win in Kansas City but had featured regularly next to Andrew Farrell, and the return of Matt Turner, however brief in MLS play, bolstered a back line that was very, very leaky at the beginning of the year and still should be doing a little better. One of the things the Revs did so well last year was grab not just late results but late wins like they did in Kansas City on Sunday. They had a chance to steal three points late against Columbus last month with a Buksa goal only to concede an equalizer right before stoppage time. While I don’t always want to rely on late-game heroics, the Revs weren’t big on blowing teams out last year and were able to find ways to close out games and they have been less than stellar in that area this year.
Overall, the Revs have had a lot of moving pieces, which is to be expected from a Supporters Shield-winning team that has sold three of its top players in Tajon Buchanan, Buksa, and Turner. As the Revs settle in and get healthier, there’s every reason to think their consistency and results will continue to improve.
Are there any players who will be unavailable for selection due to injuries, suspensions, or international duty? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?
JC: Matt Turner will still be with the USMNT and his last game before his Arsenal move will be this weekend against Minnesota for a Gillette swan song. Henry Kessler and Sebastian Lletget missed the Sporting KC game, but both could be available for the busy upcoming week. Omar Gonzalez left the SKC game with a knock, so it could be Jon Bell and Andrew Farrell at center back with Ben Reveno as a depth option for that spot.
4-2-3-1: Djordje Petrovic; DeJuan Jones, Jon Bell, Andrew Farrell, Brandon Bye; Matt Polster, Maciel; Dylan Borrero, Carles Gil, Sebastian Lletget; Gustavo Bou.
With the Revs chasing Orlando in the East, my guess is we see the best lineup Bruce Arena can muster, with a lot of regulars and not a lot of rotation from Sunday. We saw Borrero and Bou combine really well for a goal in Kansas City, but I am really interested to see the attacking midfield setup with both Borrero and Lletget on either side of Carles Gil. Both players are really good on the ball and see the field well, and can operate out wide or in the middle, depending on the situation and could really cause issues for defenses having to account for late runs.
I like the Revs at home to get back on the right side of the playoff line, I think another 2-1 win for New England.
Thanks again to Jake for catching us up on New England. Vamos Orlando!