New England Soccer Today

Midfield Dominance

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

By the end of 2014, the New England Revolution could make a strong case they had the best midfield in MLS. On Wednesday, the Revolution assured all the key members from that 2014 midfield would be back as the club looks for a return trip to MLS Cup in 2015.

The Revolution finished 2015 with one of the deepest, most complete midfields in MLS and after navigating the Expansion Draft and re-signing Teal Bunbury, they have the rare luxury of bringing that entire midfield back for another season. Now, with more experience and time to build chemistry, the midfield should be even better in 2015.

Offensively, the midfield returns 2014 MLS MVP candidate Lee Nguyen, who finished fourth in the league in goals last season with 18 along with five assists. Wingers Bunbury and Kelyn Rowe, both still in their early twenties, combined for nine goals and 11 assists last year. Meanwhile, Diego Fagundez, who was in and out of the line-up and had five goals and four assists in a down year, has been playing well for the Uruguay U-20s in the offseason and could push Rowe and Bunbury for playing time if he enters preseason in form.

Veteran Daigo Kobayashi and 2014 SuperDraft fourth overall pick Steve Neumann provide further options in an extraordinarily deep attacking midfield. The team may still sign Re-Entry Draft pick Tristan Bowen to add another pacey option on the wings.

Defensively, U.S. National Team star Jermaine Jones provides the bite to the Revolution midfield, while also being a key threat in transition with his vision and passing ability. Scott Caldwell has proven a great complement with his smart passing and positioning. Andy Dorman, a starter until a midseason injury provides another veteran option and could push Caldwell for starts. Newcomer Jeremy Hall is another option with experience as a defensive midfielder.

Jones didn’t arrive in 2014 until late August, yet played extremely well down the stretch; a rare exception for a midseason addition in MLS. The potential is there for an even greater impact in 2015 with a full preseason under his belt. Dorman, meanwhile, was a key contributor before a midseason injury and didn’t recover in time to really get the chance to pair with Jones. This preseason will undoubtedly provide an opportunity for the two veterans to play together and potentially prove a fruitful pairing in central midfield.

Despite the difficult MLS roster constraints, the Revolution are in the unusual position of having depth with MLS starting experience across midfield, leaving them in great shape to deal with a long grueling season even if players are lost in the summer for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The team further has game changing options off the bench, whether it’s to hold a lead or look for an offensive spark.

Now, the team has the opportunity to improve in other areas to push the team over the edge and become the favorite in 2015—something they didn’t do enough of following MLS Cup runs in the mid-2000s. While perhaps the team could still do with a bit more depth on the wings, New England can set their focus squarely on the defense and striker. The club’s main priority has to be replacing 2014 Revolution Defender of the Year A.J. Soares—whether that be directly with a center back, or with a full back if Andrew Farrell slides to the middle—and finding depth or a starter at striker after nearly all the options behind Charlie Davies in the depth chart were lost in the offseason.

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