With the 2013 season set to kick-off on Saturday, the staff of New England Soccer Today took our best guess at how the New England Revolution will fare in 2013.
Where will the Revs finish in 2013? How many goals will they score and allow?
Brian O’Connell: Call me a fraud, but I’m going with the same prediction I had for them last year: sixth. Eastern Conference competition got considerably stronger last year, and that trend is going to continue this year. Yes, the Revs improved their roster during the offseason. But so did Sporting K.C., New York and Chicago. Columbus and D.C. are stronger than they were at this time last year. So is Houston. That’s not to say the Revs won’t be competitive during stretches. They will. But I think it’ll take some significant shifts within the conference to allow the Revs to sneak into the playoffs this year.
Goal scored: 42
Goals allowed: 45
Sean Donahue: The Revolution are a deeper team in 2013 than in 2012, but I still haven’t seen enough to make me think this team will make a push for the playoffs. I see the Revolution finishing eighth this season. Sporting Kansas City, D.C. United, Houston Dynamo and the New York Red Bulls should fight for the top four spots, with an improved Chicago Fire, Columbus and Montreal Impact looking at the five through seven positions. After that, I think the Revolution should outpace Toronto FC again this season and get ahead of a Philadelphia Union squad that still faces far too many questions.
Goals scored: 40
Goals allowed: 44
Kevin Koczwara: Sixth in the East (9th overall), just missing the playoffs. I got a good feeling on the goal front and am going to say 45, which, with a sturdy defense, will be enough to make the Revs fight for a playoff spot.
Ryan Lanigan: The Revolution will finish seventh in the East. They aren’t quite ready for the playoff spot yet, but they are certainly going to improve on last season. They have made some strong additions in the offseason to address some needs but as with every team, it’s going to take a little time to gel. Jay Heaps is certainly molding the team to fit what he wants and that’s a good thing. Expect a better defensive effort this season and the offense will probably continue to grow as the chemistry does.
Julian Cardillo: Sixth place, 45 goals scored, 45 goals against. It’s no secret that this year’s Eastern Conference is one of the most competitive in league history. Few will look past Sporting Kansas City, Houston Dynamo, and New York Red Bulls to definitely be in the top five by season’s end. That leaves just two playoff places for the Revolution to snag. With Saer Sene not coming back from injury until well into the spring, Jerry Bengston likely out for various spells with the Honduran national team, and Diego Fagundez still establishing himself, the Revolution will likely not have the firepower to finish in the top five. Expect midfield players like Andy Dorman, Lee Nguyen, Kelyn Rowe, and Kalifa Cisse to lead the Revolution and help them go toe-to-toe with most midfields in the league. Jay Heaps has a lot of options on the bench, which may cause some confusion at the beginning as to who his starters at the back will be. It will likely be another transition year, though expect more positives at the end.
What would it take for 2013 to be considered a success and will the Revs get there?
Brian O’Connell: The Revs have got to stay in the thick of the postseason hunt through October for 2013 to be considered a success. No question. Getting knocked out of the picture in September or having a 2.5% chance at the playoffs with six games to go is maintaining the status quo. The Revs have to be competitive down the homestretch. Can they do it? They’ll need a lot of help and a little luck to do it. For starters, they have to stay exceptionally healthy – no easy task for any MLS club. They’ll need stronger teams like KC and NY to experience severe September swoons. And perhaps most importantly, they have to stay consistent. They can’t lay eggs against likes the Toronto, Montreal and Philly the way they did last year.
Sean Donahue: The biggest disappointment for the Revolution last year was how their play seemed to regress as the season went on. A hopeful start to the year, turned into a dreadful end of summer. For this year to be considered a success, the Revolution will need to show improvement from the beginning to the end of the season. With a year of experience under his belt, Jay Heaps should be better prepared to help his club avoid a late summer slump and at least show some positives heading into the Fall. At the very least, Saer Sene rounding into form as the season progresses, should help the Revolution improve later in the year.
Kevin Koczwara: It will take finishing out games and gutting out points when things aren’t go the team’s way. The Revs have had a habit of the last few seasons of out playing teams and not getting the points from the games.
Ryan Lanigan: A lot of Revolution fans will demand playoffs and a successful playoff run. That should always be the goal of every team, but the Revs might not quite be ready yet. A success would be a strong improvement from the previous season, including a better attack, a more solid defense, and an all-around good product on the field. The Revolution will achieve that because of the work they’ve put in this offseason and the acquisitions Jay Heaps and Mike Burns have added. The players seem to be very anxious for the season but it will be key that they stay optimistic despite possible early season speed bumps.
Who will be the Revs MVP?
Brian O’Connell: Lee Nguyen, no doubt. He’s still their best player, and he’ll be even better in his second season. His ability to spark the offense makes him the most valuable performer on the pitch. Even with the additions of Kalifa Cisse, Andy Dorman and Andrew Farrell, this team is lost without Nguyen, in my opinion.
Sean Donahue: The Revolution are lacking a bit in creativity in midfield with the exception of Lee Ngueyn. If Nguyen stays healthy, he’ll once again be the catalyst of the team’s offense and win his second straight MVP. Nguyen will need some help from the likes of Kelyn Rowe and Juan Toja to keep defenses from focusing all their attention on him, however.
Kevin Koczwara: Clyde Simms.
Ryan Lanigan: Striker Jerry Bengtson will be the Revolution’s Most Valuable Player. The Honduran has been a star in recent months for his country and this year, it will translate over into the MLS. He will have to carry the load early in the season as Saer Sene makes his way back from injury. The midfield looks to be strong in terms of attack this year, and I think Bengtson will flourish with an improved set piece offense. Lee Nguyen will continue to be a rock for the Revs and maybe the player a lot of people are going to be talking about is Juan Toja. Toja came to New England late in the summer last season and didn’t even play two games worth of minutes.
Julian Cardillo: Andy Dorman. The returning Revolution midfielder knows American soccer. He’s versatile and has a lot of soccer savvy. Expect Dorman to produce a similar amount of goals and assists, probably between five and ten, and help lead a very capable midfield.
Who will lead the team in scoring?
Brian O’Connell: Saer Sene isn’t going to get healthy overnight and Jerry Bengtson is still a question mark given his international obligations. So in light of those concerns, I think the biggest beneficiary of their absences is going to be Diego Fagundez, who’ll lead the club in scoring with somewhere in the neighborhood of 8-10 goals this year.
Sean Donahue: This is a tough call with Saer Sene out injured to start the season, plus teams seemingly learning how to neutralize the French striker as the season went on. Jerry Bengtson didn’t show much last season to say he’ll be the team’s leading scorer this year, but he’s almost the pick by default here and with a preseason under his belt, he should improve.
Kevin Koczwara: Jerry Bengtson
Ryan Lanigan: Part of the reason he will be named Revolution MVP is because Jerry Bengtson will lead the Revs in scoring. New England essentially has to improve their set piece attack and that should benefit Bengtson. He has a knack for finishing off rebounds and has proved that he can finish in the air. What fans are going to be looking for is a spectacular goal from the Hondoruan.
Julian Cardillo: Jerry Bengston. Even with his league absences for international duty, Bengston should still contribute the most goals. He’s a hot scorer at the moment, having found the back of the net both with the national team and for the Revolution during pre-season. Most of Bengston’s success will depend on his striker partnership which appears to be with either Chad Barrett or Diego Fagundez until Saer Sene is healthy. Projecting the number of goals Bengston will score is a bit more tricky, though he should score between eight and 15 goals should he maintain his form and continue to develop.
Who will be the Revs defender of the year?
Brian O’Connell: Andrew Farrell is a tempting choice, but I have to go with A.J. Soares. Partnered with Jose Goncalves, a savvy veteran center back, Soares is going to make his shaky sophomore campaign a distant memory by midseason. If he can stay healthy for the entire season and avoid the same mistakes he made last year, the Revs defense will be much improved this year.
Sean Donahue: I could see this going several way, but I’ll go with Andrew Farrell. The Revolution haven’t had the complete package at either fullback position for the past few seasons. If Farrell can play on the outside as well as he did in the center in college – and the early indications from preseason are that he can – the Revolution may finally have a strong defender on the outside who can also pick his spots to add something to the attack.
Kevin Koczwara: A.J. Soares. (He will have a bounce-back year.)
Ryan Lanigan: Last year I made a point that AJ Soares wouldn’t fall into the typical sophomore slump. He didn’t quite do that, but it wasn’t nearly as strong of a campaign as his rookie season. He has a chance of bouncing back this year and competition at the center back spot with Stephen McCarthy, Jose Goncalves, and Darrius Barnes. It’s going to come down to Soares and rookie Andrew Farrell. In preseason, the former Louisville Cardinal has shown some promise and his outside back performance could be very key for New England. It will be a true test when the season starts and the pace gets going.
Julian Cardillo: AJ Soares. Coming into his third year, Soares has had enough time to gauge the league and establish himself as a prominent league defender. Expect competition for a starting role in central defense to push Soares.
Which newcomer will have the biggest impact?
Brian O’Connell: Andrew Farrell, without question. No one impressed me more during the preseason than the first overall pick. It wasn’t even close. He was the man this preseason. Not only is he versatile, but he’s clearly got the smarts to become one of the best defenders in this league for a long time. He’s going to strengthen the defense, bring leadership both on and off the field, and provide some much-needed bite to the attack. This kid is the entire package, and he’s going to remind us on a regular basis why the Revs traded up to acquire him.
Sean Donahue: To me this comes down to a battle between Jose Goncalves , Andrew Farrell and Kalifa Cisse. Farrell had the most impressive preseason, but Cisse is the most important to the Revolution’s success this season. The Revolution need Cisse to provide the link from defense to the attack that they counted on Shalrie Joseph to be for years. If Cisse can prove to be a strong partner for either Clyde Simms or Juan Toja and show an ability to get the ball forward, he’ll have the biggest impact of any of the newcomers.
Kevin Koczwara: Jose Goncalves
Ryan Lanigan: Andrew Farrell looks to be a strong candidate as rookie of the year and as the number one pick, should rightfully be in that conversation. Akron and homegrown product Scott Caldwell has a chance to work his way into a crowded midfield. He brings a strong knowledge of the game and has been known to handle pressure situations. Size has always been a question, but even as a youth player in Massachusetts, Caldwell always played for teams older than his age and his size never slowed him down. Donnie Smith also has a chance to earn a spot in the starting XI on the outside wing.
Julian Cardillo: Andrew Farrell. He already has made an impact—on the coaches. Enough of an impact to trade up to the number one spot and draft him before anyone else could. Farrell seems very calm, cool, and collected—qualities that tend to accompany very capable defenders. His versatility will push Soares, Darrius Barnes, Jose Goncalves, Bilal Duckett, Stephen McCarthy and FINALLY Kevin Alston. Sidebar: who has Alston had to compete with at right back in his career? If Farrell establishes that he was better positioning, awareness, and offensive know-how on the right flank expect Alston to warm the bench.
Once everyone’s healthy, what do you think the starting XI will be?
Brian O’Connell: Reis – Alston, Goncalves, Soares, Farrell – Nguyen, Cisse, Simms, Fagundez – Bengtson, Sene
Sean Donahue: Reis – Alston, Goncalves, Soares, Farrell – Nguyen, Cisse, Simms, Rowe – Sene, Bengtson
Kevin Koczwara: Shuttleworth – Alston, Soares, Goncalves, Farrell – Cisse, Simms, Nguyen, Toja (going on a limb here), Rowe – Bengtson
Ryan Lanigan: Matt Reis – Andrew Farrell, AJ Soares, Jose Goncalves, Chris Tierney – Lee Nguyen, Juan Toja, Clyde Simms, Kelyn Rowe – Jerry Bengtson, Saer Sene
Julian Cardillo: (4-4-2, diamond) Bobby Shuttleworth - Kevin Alston, Jose Goncalves, AJ Soares, Chris Tierney - Kelyn Rowe, Kalifa Cisse, Lee Nguyen, Andy Dorman - Jerry Bengston, Saer Sene