The MLS off-season is behind us and the 2020 MLS regular season is on the horizon. I am not sure how one of the shortest off-season in recent years also felt like one of the longest but here we are. On Monday the New England Revolution will officially report for training camp and full team training can begin on March 8th once a handful of medical hurdles (including COVID) are cleared. That being said the cat is already out of the bag.
Many of the Revolution players actually reported on February 22nd which was the original MLS report date but was pushed back due to the collective bargaining agreement negotiations. For the next 6+ weeks, the Revolution will be preparing for a 2021 MLS regular season that is slated to begin on April 17th.
This hasn’t been a traditional off-season and this training camp will be anything but traditional
At the moment we do not have an official schedule from the league other than the fact that there will be 34 regular season matches and the Canadian teams will be based out of the United States for the foreseeable future. In addition, we do not have the stereotypical preseason schedule. Usually a week or two into preseason the Revs take off for warmer pastures and get in a few matches to build up to 90-minute fitness. At this point, there is no preseason schedule.
To make things even more interesting the team could be without two of their starters with both Henry Kessler and Tajon Buchanan potentially missing time during training camp due to the U-23 Concacaf Olympic Qualifiers that are taking place in March. With success and talented players come international call-ups. Absences do allow for other players to get more reps and ultimately see if the depth is where it needs to be.
2020 High Level Recap
During the 2020 MLS regular season, the Revs played two matches to start the year and then went on a hiatus until July due to COVID-19. Despite that and losing their star in Carles Gil to injury the team went 8-7-8 and was able to make the playoffs as the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference.
With Gil returning late in the season the Revs were able to hit the playoffs running at full speed. New England defeated the Montreal Impact to open the playoffs and then hit the road to defeat the Philadelphia Union and then Orlando City SC to make the Eastern Conference Final.
The Revs momentum was halted in the ECF where they fell to the eventual MLS Cup winners in Columbus Crew SC in a 1-0 finish.
2021 New England Revolution Roster
Departures (12): Alex Buttner, Isaac Angking, Jeff Caldwell, Nicolas Firmino, Kekutah Manneh, Michael Mancinne, Cristian Penilla, Seth Sinovic, Antonio Delamea, Diego Fagundez, Kelyn Rowe, Lee Nguyen
New Additions (6): Earl Edwards Jr. (GK), Christian Mafla (DEF), Wilfrid Kaptoum (MID), A.J. DeLaGarza (DEF), Ema Boateng (MID), Edward Kizza (F)
Photo Credit: New England Revolution
Forwards (6): Gustavo Bou, Tajon Buchanan, Adam Buksa, Teal Bunbury, Edward Kizza, Justin Rennicks
Midfield (8): Ema Boateng, Luis Caicedo, Scott Caldwell, Carles Gil, Wilfrid Kaptoum, Tommy McNamara, Matt Polster, Damian Rivera
Defenders (7): Brandon Bye, A.J. DeLaGarza, Andrew Farrell, DeJuan Jones, Henry Kessler, Christian Mafla, Collin Verfurth
Goalkeepers (3): Earl Edwards Jr., Brad Knighton, Matt Turner
As of post, the Revolution has 24 out of 30 available first team slots filled up, three of three Designated Player spots, and seven of eight International roster spots. The team has yet to sign defenders Jon Bell or Francois Dulysse who they own MLS rights to.
Key Things I Will Be Watching Out For
Newcomers: It’s hard not to look at the newcomers and think they are the number one thing to keep an eye on. Is Mafla a true improvement over Buttner at left-back? Can Kaptoum replace Penilla and provide the club with more consistency? And can Edward Kizza really provide depth at striker given the club is using an international roster spot on him? Right-Back Battle: DeJuan Jones and Brandon Bye are essentially fighting over the same minutes. At the end of last year, Jones won the battle but this will be a very interesting position to keep an eye on going forward. Another wrinkle for the pair could be Tajon Buchanan playing at right-back as he did during the playoffs.
Photo Credit: New England Revolution
Defensive Midfield: This was an area of weakness for the club last year right from the jump. How does Luis Caicedo look after a year off and will Scott Caldwell be on the opposite side or will it be Matt Polster? What If: Carles Gil going down last year was a death blow to the Revolution. They struggled to score without him and I am not sure they addressed this area of depth concern if he were to go down again. If a DP goes down it’s a body blow to any team but the key is to have a roster that can at-least tread water in their absence. There is roster upside in new and returning players that could fill that gap but I am not 100% convinced they have done enough. Goalkeeper Duel: When New England brought in a veteran like Edwards Jr. to be on the goalkeeper depth chart it was clear Arena and company are preparing for Turner to miss some time this year. And no I am not Charlie Davies talking about Europe but rather international duty with USMNT. Depending on who you ask Turner is now second or third on the USMNT depth chart. USMNT has a busy year that includes World Cup Qualifying in the Fall, Nations League, and the Gold Cup. It’s not a complete certainty that Turner will miss time but it will be interesting to see the back-up battle between Knighton and Edwards Jr..Buksa Has To Step Up: Adam Buksa’s 2020 performance was not worthy of the DP stats that he currently holds. I personally give him a mulligan for not having great service in the absence of Gil. When Gil returned you could see Buksa’s performance lift back up. No mulligan for 2021 and if the Revolution are half-way thru the season and it looks like 2020 it might be time to pull the ripcord. In regards to training camp, I would look to see what shape Buksa came into camp the chemistry build with Gil.
Week 1 Training Camp Schedule
Not going to give away any state secrets here but the media will meet with a number of Revolution players this week. To kick things off Bruce Arena will speak on Monday, Teal Bunbury, Carles Gil, and Matt Turner on Tuesday, and then Ema Boateng, A.J. DeLaGarza, and Wilfrid Kaptoum on Thursday.
Off the training pitch there will be a 2021 kit reveal on Tuesday. There has been a credible leak of the kit already.
We will keep you updated with the latest here on Trifecta Sports throughout 2021. Make sure to follow me on Twitter as well to get the very latest.
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