New England Soccer Today

Charting Depth

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

With preseason underway and the start of the regular season just over a month away, the New England Revolution have addressed some weaknesses in roster depth, but still have areas in need of improvement if the team is to survive — and thrive — a grueling season. With that in mind, here’s a look at the Revolution’s roster as it currently stands.


Likely Starter: Bobby Shuttleworth

Primary Back-up: Brad Knighton

Shuttleworth had some game saving performances, but also showed some shakiness at times in 2015, notably getting beaten at the near post on multiple occasions, and finished with one of the league’s worst save percentages (62.4%). Still, there is little question heading into the 2016 season that the starting spot in net is Shuttleworth’s to lose as it has been the past two seasons. Knighton is a capable back-up and expect New England to add a third keeper before the start of the season, whether that’s re-signing Trevor Spangenberg or looking elsewhere.

Center Backs:

Likely Starters: Jose Goncalves, Andrew Farrell

Primary Back-ups: Sambinha, Darrius Barnes

Other Options:   London Woodberry

Goncalves and Farrell struggled a bit in the early going last season as Farrell adjusted to his new position, but the pair appeared to figure things out and improve as the season went along. Expect that to continue in 2016 unless Goncalves — who has complained about his contract in the past and hinted at a desire to go back to Europe — leaves or Sambinha forces his way into the starting line-up. If Sambinha makes a case to start, head coach Jay Heaps may have to reconsider putting Farrell back on the right. With Sambinha’s addition and Barnes back from injury, New England has better depth here heading into the season than they had in 2015 when Jermaine Jones was forced to play out of position.  Woodberry is a fifth option, though his defensive liabilities make him a better option at right back than in the center.

Right Back:

Likely Starter: Jordan McCrary

Primary Back-up: London Woodberry

Other Options: Darrius Barnes

It’s perhaps too soon to declare the rookie McCrary the starter, as the right back position is really a toss-up between him, Woodberry, and Barnes heading into the season. Woodberry offers the most going forward, but showed some weaknesses in defense last season that cost him his spot down the stretch to the now departed Jeremy Hall and Kevin Alston. Barnes and McCrary are both better options defensively, with Barnes having experience on his side and McCrary possibly a bit more pace. Heaps could end up rotating this spot based on match-ups, but any of the three could win this spot in preseason. The team knows what it’s getting out of Barnes and Woodberry at this point, so whether this position has improved from last season depends on what kind of impact McCrary can have.

Left Back:

Likely Starter: Chris Tierney

Primary Back-up: Darrius Barnes

Other Options: Donnie Smith

No need to use pencil for this one, the Revolution’s only All-Star in 2015, Chris Tierney, has perhaps the most secure spot of all heading into the season. Tierney has thrived at the left back position, making up for his relative lack of pace for a fullback with smart play, while also proving the best crosser and free kick taker on the team. Barnes provides a solid defensive option, if needed, while Donnie Smith, in his fourth season, will be looking to break into the first team after not seeing a minute of MLS action last season. While the Revolution are strong with Tierney here, a long term injury in this spot would be devastating to the team given his contributions to the offense and the lack of depth options that could provide close to the same.

Defensive Midfielder:

Likely Starter: Scott Caldwell

Primary Back-up: Unknown

Caldwell is right up there with Tierney and Lee Nguyen as the players whose spots in their respective positions are most assured. The Homegrown Player continues to improve every season and is starting to shed his underrated tag as the rest of the league takes notice. As far as back-ups go, who is next in line is hard to figure. The Revolution don’t have another defensive midfielder on the roster. Perhaps Steve Neumann, Daigo Kobayashi, Sambinha or an untested Zachary Herivaux could step in temporarily, but in any case it would be an instance of trying to force a square peg into a round hole and not viable long term. This is a position the Revolution must address, and several rumored signings this offseason may do just that.

Central Midfielder:

Likely Starter: Daigo Kobayashi

Primary Back-up: Steve Neumann

Other Options: Zachary Herivaux

Unless Jones returns, Kobayashi would appear to be his replacement in central midfield by default. Like the defensive midfield spot, this area is worryingly thin due to the loss of Jones and Andy Dorman. Neumann can step in and perhaps eventually Herivaux will be ready, while other options include moving Kelyn Rowe or Lee Nguyen here and adjusting the line-up accordingly elsewhere.

Attacking Midfielder:

Likely Starter: Lee Nguyen

Primary Back-up: Kelyn Rowe

Other Options: Steve Neumann

While Nguyen couldn’t replicate his incredible goal scoring output of 2014 in 2015, there is  no doubt he remains one of the team’s most valuable players. Rowe is a very capable fill-in, when moved from the wings to his natural position in the center, while Neumann showed promise in 2014, but was seen little in 2015. The Revolution are fairly secure in this area.

Right Wing:

Likely Starter: Kelyn Rowe

Primary Back-up: Teal Bunbury

Other Options: Diego Fagundez, Juan Agudelo, Steve Nuemann

Rowe made the starting spot his own down the stretch last season with his good play and consistency beating out the likes of Bunbury. Still, a strong showing from Bunbury in preseason or a drop of form from Rowe could make this a good competition for minutes.  Fagundez, Agudelo and Neumann can also play here, though will likely be more utilized elsewhere. Rookie Michael Gamble, if signed, is another option. Like the rest of the attacking midfield spots, New England has strong depth here.

Left Wing:

Likely Starter:  Diego Fagundez

Primary Back-upTeal Bunbury

Other Options: Juan Agudelo, Kelyn Rowe, Donnie Smith, Steve Neumann

Like Rowe, Fagundez’s play down the stretch made the left midfield spot his. Also, like Rowe, a strong showing from Bunbury or poor form from Fagundez could change that. Agudelo, Rowe, Smith and Neumann could all play here in a pinch. Gamble is another option here as well, if signed. Left wing is another fairly strong spot for Revolution depth.


Likely Starter:  Charlie Davies

Primary Back-up: Juan Agudelo

Other OptionsSean Okoli, Teal Bunbury

Charlie Davies has established himself as the starting striker for the Revolution, but don’t be surprised if a healthy Juan Agudelo pushes him for minutes. Heaps rotated a bit based on match-ups down the stretch and unless he tries out a two striker formation this season, that could well be the case again. Davies and Agudelo give New England two capable strikers, while Bunbury provides a different dynamic, but doesn’t have the right skill set to be a lone striker long term. Okoli looked good last preseason, but didn’t look ready for prime time in limited first team minutes during the season. Rookie Femi Hollinger-Janzen provides another option if signed.

Top 3 Needs:

  1. Central Midfielder
  2. Defensive Midfielder
  3. Attacking Fullback

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