The LA Galaxy are back in action Sunday, when they take on an opponent we haven’t seen in June 2019, in the New England Revolution. A lot has happened in the world and MLS since then, so to get us caught up on the upcoming opponent, I spoke to Jake Catanese of SB Nation’s Revs site The Bent Musket. Many thanks to Jake for taking the time to answer my questions!
LAG Confidential asks The Bent Musket
1. We know Bruce Arena well, and now he’s leading the Revs. In LA, he wasn’t really interested in the Supporters’ Shield, and while he helped New England win it last year, things haven’t gone quite as well this season. Why is that?
Ah, of course, let me explain. No, there is too much — let me sum up. New England entered 2022 essentially facing two very campaigns this year — the first half a CCL run with Matt Turner and the bulk of the Shield winning squad returning and the second half of the year making a playoff push with several key new faces to claim that elusive MLS Cup. Well the first half of the year went bust, as the Revs were riddled with injuries in the opening weeks coming out of preseason and they got dumped out of the CCL losing the home leg in Pumas in extra time with a lot of key defenders and Matt Turner unavailable. Arena’s USMNT trio of Jozy Altidore, Omar Gonzalez, and Sebastian Lletget did not have the impact the team were hoping for in the CCL run. Jozy is now in Liga MX, Omar actually has played solid minutes recently, and Da Boy is in Dallas (more on him in a bit).
Now the Revs have done fairly well to recover from that less-than-ideal start in which they lost 5 of their first 8 league games. Since the end of April, the Revs have only lost three games, including the backend of a tough double-game week in Montreal last weekend 4-0. But while the Revs haven’t been losing a lot of games, they also haven’t been winning a lot and those staple 1-goal wins that New England thrived on to win the Shield, have been harder to come by. Add on the fact that new signings Giacomo Vrioni and Dylan Borrero have been unavailable for most of August as well as Gustavo Bou and the Revs attacking line in front of Carles Gil has been fairly thin though players like Justin Rennicks, Ema Boateng, and Tommy McNamara have stepped up. The Revs still have enough games to get everyone healthy and on the same page but a truly deep playoff run might be a bridge too far for a team that has had so many players turnover midseason.
2. We know Sebastian Lletget well, too, and he spent just over half a season with the Revolution in the end. Why did it not work out for him with the Revs?
Sebastian Lletget is good at soccer and he did well in his time in New England. His tactical knowledge off the ball to create and find space with late runs and open up channels for other players stood out time and time again even though he wasn’t playing his best position. Unless the Revs were going to drop Lletget back to more of a holding midfield role, he was being shoehorned into a wider attacking role that he was able to excel at in his own way. Operating as not quite a full out and out winger and not a true central attacking mid, but something in between, Lletget and Dylan Borrero I thought had a real opportunity to be a great partnership in support of Carles Gil in the middle but it was not meant to be. Lletget is in a better place now in the middle of Dallas’ midfield and hopefully will be a thorn in Western Conference’s side down the stretch.
3. The Revolution seem to have gone from MLS 1.0 to the front of this current MLS era in a flash, especially since they’re selling players left and right these days. Is that a point of pride or is it frustrating to see the best players take off suddenly?
I think that the Revs being a selling club all of the sudden is a tremendous point of pride even if that means there has to be a rebuilding year this year and in the future. The Revs were able to sell on Tajon Buchanan, a Generation Adidas first round draft pick, and Matt Turner, an undrafted rookie free agent, to major overseas deals along with Polish international Adam Buksa effectively in one year. On top of that, the Revs have been able to identify and sign solid replacements in Serbian keeper Djordje Petrovic who has been amazing, a Juventus U-23 prospect in Vrioni up top at striker, and Colombian speedster Borrero to take over the Buchanan role out wide. New England has a solid core of players, a U-19 academy championship team, and a new pedigree of being proactive in moving players on to Europe as a great stepping stone which also speaks highly of MLS as well. Maintaining success in MLS from year to year is insanely difficult
Yes, this year has been incredibly frustrating on the field to see the Revs struggle after such a tremendous and record setting 2021 season. But the price of winning is the players you have signed and developed can and will move on to bigger and better things. I am going to love watching Turner, Buchanan, and Buksa in Europe and hopefully there will be other Revs joining them soon. There are many forms of success and the Revs are experiencing a lot of it on and off the field and it’s an exciting era in New England even if we are in 8th place right now.
You can read my answers to Jake’s questions at The Bent Musket.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.