On Saturday the New England Revolution fell to the Montreal Impact 2-1 at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. The chance for points in the MLS season opener was there for the Revs but ultimately they couldn’t find the equalizer.
Young Backliners Showed Flashes Of Brilliance
Bruce Arena’s options on the back-line were slim for this opener. Seth Sinovic, Antonio Delamea, and Alexander Buttner were all unavailable. He opted to go with Andrew Farrell and Henry Kessler at center back and then Brandon Bye and DeJuan Jones on the wings. All three of the youngsters showed flashes of brilliance on Saturday.
DeJuan Jones: Jones showcased his blazing speed pushing the Impact’s back-line into a backpedal. Finishing still isn’t there for Jones but that will come with time. As for his defense, it was suspect at times. On Montreal’s first goal of the match, Jones was caught sleeping. On the other hand, Jones played some impressive emergency defense that likely saved a goal.
Brandon Bye: Bye wasn’t great in this one and didn’t move a whole lot. That being said he had a few nice passes. One was a header to Wilfried Zahibo off a Gustavo Bou service. Zahibo’s goal may have been ruled off-sides by VAR but was still a nice thought by Bye. Another nice moment for the third-year player was a cross he had in the closing minutes of the match. Bye sent a perfect cross to the far post to an unmarked Tajon Buchanan whose header went right off the woodwork. Should have made it 2-2. One of Bye’s major criticisms last year was his inability to cross the ball, this preseason and through week one of the regular season shows he is much improved in that area of his game.
Henry Kessler: Kessler was likely the best of the backliners with fairily consistent play throughout the match. Just like he had in the preseason he was calm under pressure and only had a few poor decisions when trying to move the ball up the pitch. The rookie also had a perfect tackle late in the match to stop a breakaway chance by Montreal. He is in the Starting XI from here on out in my opinion.
“I think Henry was one of our better players. Henry and Fagundez I think had a good game as well. Those were two players that I think won their matchups on the day.”Bruce Arena on Kessler
Olympic stadium Needs To Be Closed Or A New Surface
One thing Saturday proved was that the turf in Olympic Stadium isn’t a suitable playing surface for athletes. On a number of occasions, there were odd bounces of the ball including one that cost Christian Penilla a breakaway look. But the real worry is the potential injury risk the surface has on players.
“No one can adjust to that surface,” said Bruce Arena. “That surface shouldn’t be allowed in the league in all honesty.”
Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner when making a save looked to have his foot caught in the turf and hurt his knee. While he stayed in the game after medical attention it solidified the point that the turf in Montreal is dangerous for players. MLS has had its fair share of field quality problems but if the Impact want to continue to use Olympic Stadium for matches they need to replace the turf.
Lack Of Killer Instinct Amongst Revolution Attackers
While I think it is way too early in the MLS season to harp on players for their miscues I do think there was a lack of killer instinct for the Revolution. Far too many layoffs instead of taking the shot. The main culprits were Diego Fagundez and Penilla who handed off late chances instead of either driving the ball in themselves or taking the shot.
Overall there is a lot of room for improvement from the Revolution going forward. Far too sloppy in the final third and way too slow in closing down attackers and getting the ball out of their own half. Going up against an Impact team that has already played competitive matches in CCL play was a tough draw. But the chance for points was there and the Revs failed to grab them.
Bounce back now needed in the home opener against the Chicago Fire next Saturday.
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