Orlando City

Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. New England Revolution

Familiarize yourself with the New England Revolution, courtesy of someone who knows them best.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Another Orlando City matchday is almost upon us as the Lions look to make it seven games unbeaten and continue to climb up the Eastern Conference table. This week sees OCSC travel up north to take on the New England Revolution.

A visit to Gillette Stadium means that I spoke to Jake Catanese, one of the contributors over at The Blazing Musket. They’re another former SBNation site that’s gone independent and they’re continuing to do excellent work covering the Revs and other soccer in the New England area. As usual, Jake did an excellent job getting us up to speed on the Revolution, and I also took the time to answer some of his questions, which you can find over at their place.

Who were some of the big off-season arrivals for the Revolution, and how have those new faces looked so far?

Jake Catanese: The Revs added three main starters in the off-season, all from within MLS, trading for Latif Blessing and Dave Romney and adding Bobby Wood via the Re-Entry Draft. Romney has been tremendous for New England, who for the second year in a row have been hit hard with injuries in the back line. Andrew Farrell missed some games in the beginning of the season, Henry Kessler is out several months, and Brandon Bye missed a few games in May, so having an extra veteran presence in the back was necessary.

Blessing has been a solid partner with Matt Polster and Noel Buck in the midfield, and with the season-ending injury to Dylan Borrero has even had to operate as a wide midfielder. The surprise however is Wood, who has been a mainstay up top at striker ahead of DPs Giacomo Vrioni and Gustavo Bou (who was carrying a knock for a few weeks). The Revs already had a strong roster and have over the years been able to bolster it with solid league veterans and this off-season was no different.

Only three teams in the entire league have scored more than New England. What’s been the key to the team’s offensive success?

JC: I mean, Carles Gil has been on a heater the past few games, scoring three goals (including at least one from the spot) while totaling three assists (including a delightful, line-splitting pass to Matt Polster that drew the PK he converted against Miami). The Revs have been scoring goals in bunches this year, and while we lament the defense the past month or so that has been cobbled together due to injuries, Gil has stepped up in a major way to produce for his team when they really needed goals. But there are contributions all over the field for New England, with Noel Buck proving a capable long-range shooter, Ema Boateng filling in as a wing creator, and DeJuan Jones still being an outright menace.

Obviously Wood’s resurgence can’t be understated and I don’t want to know where this team could be with Borrero on offense right now. Wood doesn’t do anything flashy but he’s so darn consistent and always in the right areas that his runs either get him on the end of a dangerous ball or it opens up space for someone else. I don’t have the numbers on the Revs’ set piece chances, but I feel like they’ve converted on a few more set pieces then they were in the post-Adam Buksa era. Statistically, a lot of the Revs players are posting fairly high shots-on-target percentages in the 40-50% range, which feels much higher than in recent years when the Revs tended to be high volume/low percentage shooters. Whatever they’re doing, it’s working, and after surviving a brutal road stretch shorthanded to still be near the top of the East is a good thing. If this team figures out a good rotation or matchups to combine Wood/Bou/Vrioni up front, this is going to be an offense that can make a run in November.

On the other side of the coin, where are some areas that you believe the Revs can improve?

JC: Right now, it’s just the health of this team. Despite all the contributions from players deep on this roster so far this year, the bench is really thin in spots. Not having Tommy McNamara’s utility or Nacho Gil as a wide player really limits what this offense can do, despite Homegrowns Jack Panayotou and Esmir Bajraktarevic’s stellar minutes so far. Fullback depth is essentially non-existent on the MLS level with the Revs having to give Andrew Farrell his first start at right back since 2019 and Christian Makoun deputizing at left back so DeJuan Jones could cover the right side in Bye’s absence. I don’t know what kind of summer acquisitions the Revs could make that would be more beneficial than just getting the players they have out healthier. If the Revs can tighten up their issues at the back with the personnel they have — Djordje Petrovic seemingly faces a penalty every other week — I think the Revs will stay at worst right about where they are in the East.

Are there any players who will be unavailable due to injuries, suspensions, call-ups, etc? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?

JC: The injury list is quite ridiculous but Bou being back helps out a lot. Borrero is out for the year, McNamara and N. Gil have yet to play this year, Kessler is out until like September or so. Buck and Bye have been carrying knocks but could be back this week. Damian Rivera is with the Costa Rica U-23s, while Petrovic and Makoun are with Serbia and Venezuela, respectively, and are definitely missing this game. I think that’s everyone.

4-2-3-1: Earl Edwards Jr.; DeJuan Jones, Dave Romney, Andrew Farrell, Brandon Bye; Matt Polster, Latif Blessing; Emmanuel Boateng, Carles Gil, Noel Buck; Bobby Wood.

It wouldn’t shock me to see Bou start out wide and then give way to Buck or vice versa in this one. The bench options are going to be really thin with third-string keeper Jacob Jackson just returning from a longterm injury and getting some minutes with Revs II.

I think the Revs at home are feeling really good and have just enough to hang on in this one. I’ll go 2-1 Revs with Bou and Gil netting the goals.

Thanks to Jake for the excellent information on the Revs. Vamos Orlando!


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