2012 Revolution Predictions

Will Kelyn Rowe or Saer Sene have the bigger impact in 2012?  (Photo Credit: Joshua Pearson)

With the 2012 season set to kick-off on Saturday, the staff of New England Soccer Today and special guest Kevin Koczwara of The Soccer Guys took our best guess at how the New England Revolution will fare in 2012.

Where will the Revs finish in 2012? How many goals will they score and allow?

Brian O’Connell: 6th Place, 47 goals scored/48 goals allowed. The Revolution will be markedly improved in 2012 after the debacle that was the 2011 season. You’ll see a better defense and a much more dynamic and creative midfield, especially with Kelyn Rowe in the mix. John Lozano is a definite upgrade at center back and Saer Sene may actually put a few balls into the net if he gets the service. That said, it’ll be a much improved squad, but it’ll take a field of four leaf clovers for them to clinch a playoff berth.

Sean Donahue: The Revs will be better in 2012, but not quite good enough to make the playoffs. I see them likely finishing somewhere between 6th-8th in the East and with how things look at the moment, 8th. Injuries, delayed arrivals and a still incomplete roster make it hard to see the Revs getting off to a fast start and that will kill their chances at playing in the postseason. It’s a young team, so 2013 playoffs are realistic.

The offense will be better, but the defense still has some hole and if Benny Feilhaber and Kelyn Rowe are the outside midfielders, there could be a lot of space for opponents to exploit. Goals for: 45. Goals Against: 52

Kevin Koczwara (The Soccer Guys): Hard to argue that the Eastern Conference didn’t get better in the offseason. Columbus keeps re-tooling, New York is stocked again, Houston added some nice parts, and Philadelphia, Toronto and D.C. are all stronger and younger. Look for the Revs to finish in the middle of the pack and just miss the playoffs. This team will be exciting, and the new weighted schedule definitely puts them in contention for one of the wild-card spots because there are less games against the powerhouse teams in the West.

New England will score close to 45 goals and allow around 47. Much improved numbers.

Ryan Lanigan: The Revolution are going to finish 5th overall in the East and qualify for the play in game in the playoffs. People will say that the Revs finishing at fifth is very optimistic thinking, and it probably is, but this team is capable of doing it. Heaps’ new style is something that can be very successful as long as the team is buying in, which looks like they are doing.

Will Heaps’ first year be considered a success?

Brian O’Connell: Yes. The Revs will be in the playoff hunt until the final week of the season, but will fall three points short. They’ll spend much of the season contending, especially in the Eastern Conference, but ultimately, they’ll fall just short. They may be an improved squad on paper, but they’re still in the process of rebuilding – and it’ll show more than a few times this season.

Sean Donahue: Yes. An improved style will make the Revs more fun to watch even if the results may not be there yet. “Rebuilding” seems to be a dirty word around these parts, but this really should be considered a “rebuilding” year. Heaps has assembled a young, talented team, but it’s still missing a few key pieces and it’s hard to see it all coming together this year.

Kevin Koczwara (The Soccer Guys): He just needs to make this team look better and not give up late leads. If he can improve the product, not even move up in the standings really, he’s done a good job. This team can’t lose games in the last 15 minutes like it did last season.

Ryan Lanigan: Yes. They are going to win more games, they are going to score more goals, and they aren’t going to let leads slip away like they did in 2011. Not only will the product on the field be better, but the front office seems to have a renewed energy as well, making the product as a whole better.

Who will be the Revs MVP?

Brian O’Connell: Benny Feilhaber. Last year, we saw Feilhaber try to do everything himself, and it was clear that there were a number of times in which he simply didn’t trust the talent around him. This year should be a different story. With upgrades made up top and in the midfield, Feilhaber should be less inclined to do it all himself and begin playing the unselfish teammate. If he does, expect an All-Star caliber season from the dynamic midfielder.

Sean Donahue: This one is a toss-up. I could see it going to any of a number of players. With little confidence in this pick, I’ll say Benny Feilhaber.

Kevin Koczwara (The Soccer Guys): It has to be Shalrie Joseph or Clyde Simms in the center of the midfield. The midfield has been run over in recent seasons and that needs to change. Look for Joseph to step up and feed off of Heaps and the new structure at the club.

Ryan Lanigan: The most valuable player for the Revs will be Sharlie Joseph. Under his new contract as a Designated Player, he’s going to step up in a major way. Now with Clyde Simms and Kelyn Rowe in the midfield with him, and more time to gel with Benny Feilhaber, the work load for Joseph will be less. With a smaller work load, Joseph will thrive and his attitude will be more positive this year than last.

Who will lead the team in scoring?

Brian O’Connell: Saer Sene. He gets into good positions, has the speed to get behind the defense and has the finishing ability to collect 10 goals this year.

Sean Donahue: He may not have shown it in preseason, but Saer Sene can finish. If Jose “Pepe” Moreno can be a target man up top, Sene could reach double digits.

Kevin Koczwara (The Soccer Guys): Pepe Moreno. He’s the man right? He needs to be the man. He’s had a lot of bad press already, but the way the Revs front office talks about him, he should be able to score plenty of goals if he can stay healthy.

Ryan Lanigan: Despite his early season injury, Saer Sene will lead the Revs in goals this season. He is the real deal up top, and with three strong playmakers in the midfield, Joseph, Feilhaber, and Rowe, he will have plenty of opportunities to find the back of the net.

Who will be the Revs defender of the year?

Brian O’Connell: John Lozano. The Colombian has the unique mix of confidence and strength required to be a successful center back. If he can stay on the same page with A.J. Soares and Matt Reis, Lozano could be the steal of the offseason.

Sean Donahue: If John Lozano can stay fit, I expect him to benefit from A.J. Soares smart play and really excel. The Colombian center back could end up as the Revs best pick-up this offseason.

Kevin Koczwara (The Soccer Guys): A.J. Soares. Is there anyone else? I can’t see anyone else being as good as Soares. Lozano and McCarthy may surprise people, but Soares is the leader in the defense. He’s arguably one of the best young defenders in the league.

Ryan Lanigan: Some people say that your sophomore year is the hardest to play in. Not for Revs defender AJ Soares, who is going to shine in the backfield. With a solid dance partner is John Lozano, and options for the outside backs, Soares will have more time to focus on doing his job. And with Heaps’ coaching style, the defense could be more prepared for opponents.

Which newcomer will have the biggest impact?

Brian O’Connell: Kelyn Rowe. Although preseason results and form may be somewhat misleading, the rookie midfielder did little to hurt his case to make his case for becoming an impact player this year.

Sean Donahue:  It’s a tough call between Kelyn Rowe, John Lozano, and Saer Sene. With how porous the Revs defense was last year, I’m going with Lozano.

Ryan Lanigan: It’s a toss up between Sene, who I believe will lead the Revs in goals, and rookie Kelyn Rowe, who could end up leading the team in points. He has a knack for finding space and his ability to either find an open teammate or to put the ball past the goalie is going to really help Rowe succeed in his first season with the Revs.

Assuming everyone’s healthy, what do you think the starting XI will be?

Brian O’Connell:
GK: Matt Reis
D: Darrius Barnes
D: John Lozano
D: A.J. Soares
D: Kevin Alston
M: Kelyn Rowe
M: Clyde Simms
M: Shalrie Joseph
M: Benny Feilhaber
F: Blake Brettschneider
F: Saer Sene

Sean Donahue:
GK: Matt Reis
D: Chris Tierney
D: John Lozano
D: A.J. Soares
D: Kevin Alston
M: Kelyn Rowe
M: Clyde Simms
M: Shalrie Joseph
M: Benny Feilhaber
F: Saer Sene
F: Jose “Pepe” Moreno

Kevin Koczwara (The Soccer Guys):
GK: Reis
Def (Right to left): Alston, McCarthy, Soares, Tierney
Def. Mid: Simms, Joseph (who pushes higher up and makes late runs into the box a la Michael Bradley)
Mid: Rowe, Feilhaber, Carnenas
Forw: Moreno

Ryan Lanigan:
GK: Matt Reis
D: Kevin Alston
D: AJ Soares
D: John Lozano
D: Chris Tierney
M: Kelyn Rowe
M: Clyde Simms
M: Sharlie Joseph
M: Benny Feilhaber
M: Ryan Guy
F: Saer Sene

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About Sean Donahue

Sean Donahue has been covering the New England Revolution since 2002 for various publications. He has covered four MLS Cups, in addition to covering various international matches, including World Cup Qualifying and the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He has done freelance work for the AP and ESPN Boston. Sean hosted Revolution Recap, a weekly radio program covering the New England Revolution and U.S. Men's National Team from 2005-2008. He is a member of the North American Soccer Reporters. Sean can be reached at nesoccertoday@gmail.com or followed on twitter @SeanLDonahue