New England Soccer Today

New Year, New Needs

Revolution Head Coach Jay Heaps has a lot of roster spots to fill before the 2015 season kicks off. (Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Revolution Head Coach Jay Heaps has a lot of roster spots to fill before the 2015 season kicks off. (Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

The New England Revolution finished the 2014 season on an incredible run that led the team to its fifth MLS Cup before coming up just short against the Los Angeles Galaxy. Since then contract options have been declined, players have tested the waters overseas, and the team has added players via trade and the Re-Entry Draft, leaving the roster at 18 players under contract, including Jerry Bengtson, who is out on loan.

The Revolution—needing another signed player just to complete a game day 18 at this point—clearly have significant roster spots to fill before their opener on March 8th at the Seattle Sounders. With that in mind, here’s a position by position look at where the Revolution stand at the start of 2015.


Starter: Bobby Shuttleworth

Back-up: Brad Knighton

Shuttleworth made the starting role his own in 2014, especially with his strong play down the stretch. Though he can still improve on his distribution, New England will feel confident with Shuttleworth between the pipes in 2015. Knighton has proven a capable MLS keeper in the past and provides the club with a strong back-up option.

Needs: Third string ‘keeper; possibly a fourth if one is loaned to Rochester.

Priority: Low

Center Backs:

Starters: Jose Goncalves, Andrew Farrell

Back-ups: Darrius Barnes

Goncalves is a quality starter at center back, while Andrew Farrell showed he’s more than capable of playing the position in 2015 and is likely to slide over to the middle from his right back spot since the departure of A.J. Soares. Barnes mostly played full back as a fill-in in 2014, but has seen plenty of time in the center in the past and is currently the only depth at the spot. Perhaps Stephen McCarthy could be re-signed, but the team has a serious lack of depth here.

Needs: Depth

Priority: High

Right Back:

Starter: Kevin Alston

Back-ups: Darrius Barnes, Jeremy Hall

Assuming Farrell slots into the center back spot, Alston is the clear currently rostered option to take over at right back. Alston has proven a capable fill-in, but his struggles with hamstring injuries over the years make it difficult to rely on him as an everyday starter and some of his best games in recent years have actually been on the left side. His inconsistency with crosses also make him limited on the offensive end. Barnes has done well when needed on the right, but is also limited on the offensive end. Hall saw lots of time at right back in his early years in the league, but was used more as a midfielder in Toronto.

Needs: A durable starter

Priority: Medium

Left Back:

Starter: Chris Tierney

Back-ups: Darrius Barnes, Jeremy Hall

Tierney has made the left back spot his when healthy. He may not be among the fastest full backs in the league, but he usually makes up for that with experience and good positioning. Tierney is one of the few players on the roster capable of consistently putting in a good cross, which is key to keeping the offense from becoming too predictable and on set pieces. Barnes has proven a capable fill-in on the defensive end, while Hall saw limited time at left back early in his career. If the Revolution finds a new starter at right back, Alston is another strong back-up option at the position and the team is in solid shape here.

Needs: None

Central Midfield:

Starters: Lee Nguyen, Jermaine Jones, Scott Caldwell

Back-ups: Daigo Kobayashi, Andy Dorman, Steve Neumann, Jeremy Hall

Undoubtedly the Revolution’s strongest position. Nguyen was an MVP candidate last year and the leader of the offense, while Jones’ skill and experience as a two way midfielder is undeniable and a game changer. Caldwell is a smart, skilled player who proved a perfect complement to Jones and Nguyen in 2014. Kobayashi, a frequent starter throughout the season, Dorman, a starter before getting injured, and Neumann, who had a very promising rookie campaign, could all push Caldwell for a spot in the starting eleven. Hall also spent a lot of his time in Toronto as a defensive midfielder. Kelyn Rowe is another option in the center should Nguyen miss any time or the Revolution wish to go more offensive and put someone else on the wing.

Needs: None

Right Midfield:

Starter: Diego Fagundez

Back-ups:  Jeremy Hall, Steve Neumann

Unsigned: Teal Bunbury, Tristan Bowen

Unless Bunbury is signed, Fagundez appears to be the obvious starter here. Fagundez was fantastic in 2013, but looked less effective in 2014. The Revolution will hope his recent success with the Uruguay U-20s will give the 19-year-old renewed confidence heading into 2015. Hall can play here, but isn’t the ideal back-up at this spot, while Neumann is also an option, but looks more capable in the center. Rowe can play here if not in use elsewhere. Bowen, if signed, is another option to back-up Fagundez. Adding a midfielder with a consistent right-footed cross could provide some decent variety on the flank.

Needs: Depth

Priority: Medium (low if Bunbury is re-signed)

Left Midfield:

Starter: Kelyn Rowe

Back-up: Steve Neumann

Unsigned: Teal Bunbury, Tristan Bowen

Rowe, while not a true winger and better in the center, proved a capable starter on the left in 2014 and, based on the team’s riches at central midfield, seems likely to keep starting there in 2014. Tierney and Fagundez can also play on the left side of midfield, but will likely be starting elsewhere and Neumann is another option. Still, depth and someone capable of a consistent left-footed cross, would be valuable additions.

Needs: Depth

Priority: Medium


Starter: Charlie Davies

Back-up: Steve Neumann

Unsigned: Teal Bunbury, Tristan Bowen

Davies proved his worth with a phenomenal postseason, but it is still unclear whether he’s ready to be an everyday, 90 minute starter throughout a grueling season. Neumann can play up top, but does not seem ideally suited for a lone striker role. Bunbury and Bowen would provide speed up top if signed, but neither fits the bill as an everyday lone striker.

Needs: Starter/Depth (depending on Davies’ health)

Priority: High

Projected Starters as of January 3rd (Right to Left): Bobby Shuttleworth; Kevin Alston, Andrew Farrell, Jose Goncalves, Chris Tierney; Jermaine Jones, Scott Caldwell; Diego Fagundez, Lee Nguyen, Kelyn Rowe; Charlie Davies

Bench: Brad Knighton; Darrius Barnes, Jeremey Hall, Daigo Kobayashi, Andy Dorman, Steve Neumann

Verdict: While New England still has a strong enough starting eleven for a successful 2015, the team’s depth is paper thin in many areas and upgrades in a few positions are needed if the Revolution are to truly be favorites for a return to MLS Cup.

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