Tonight is a big game for the Colorado Rapids. The New England Revolution have already won the Supporters’ Shield and are chasing most overall points in a single season, while the Rapids have the chance to clinch home-field advantage or move into 2nd place in the Western Conference.
To find out what the Rapids can expect from the Revs, we talked with Jake Catanese of The Bent Musket to get some intel on how they’ve turned things around in New England and what their weakness is.
Burgundy Wave: What happened to the Revs this year that made them so good?
The Bent Musket: I think it’s a two-part answer. The first is that the team is far healthier than it was last year when essentially the bulk of its midfield was out injured, led by Carles Gil and Luis Caicedo. The second is just good old-fashioned team chemistry.
Last year when the Revs were without Carles Gil, they brought in Matt Polster and Tommy McNamara in the summer to stabilize the middle of the field. Well, both of them have effectively never left the lineup, and the depth that was leaned on last year like Tajon Buchanan used that experience gained from the struggles of 2020 and built on that tenfold this year. When Carles Gil went down for a month with a hernia issue, the Revs were ready to cope and succeed without their playmaking maestro. Gustavo Bou has become a true second striker, become a legitimate playmaker and partner to Adam Buksa up top. Tajon Buchanan’s breakout season will see him playing in Belgium in January and Polster has been one of the best holding midfielders in the league this year.
Last year the disruptions of the pandemic and injuries really affected the Revs’ ability to gel and build chemistry. Players like Bou were being asked to facilitate and play out of position far too often and while you could see the talent in the squad it didn’t come together until the playoff run after Gil came back from injury. In particular, I think Adam Buksa was the one player most affected by these things last year and his tremendous jump in form this year and in recent games reflects that. Bruce Arena knows how to build a roster, and the Revs as an organization have always hit on the little things like trades and draft picks. Getting three DP’s producing at MLS First Team levels on top of a solid foundation of youngsters and league veterans and you have the standard Bruce recipe for success.
BW: What is their biggest weakness?
TBM: Complacency on the defensive end, especially late in games or after scoring. As a unit, I think DeJuan Jones, Henry Kessler, Andrew Farrell, and Brandon Bye regressed a bit from last year but individually have all improved in certain areas. But the backline can’t expect Matt Turner to bail them out all the time as he has done so often over the last two years. The Revs have built their Shield-winning campaign on winning games by one-goal, but in the playoffs holding onto a one-goal lead is going to be a lot tougher.
The Revs might believe the best defense is a good offense but that only works when you actually score the insurance goal and hold on to that multi-goal lead. With Turner in goal and in form, the Revs have a tremendous chance to go all the way in the playoffs, but it would be nice for Turner’s backline to step up as well.
BW: For you, what is the best part about the 2021 Revs season? (outside of winning the Supporters’ Shield ofc)
TBM: Simply getting back to watch soccer games in person again. I think I made the trip up to Foxborough about four times this year, usually very difficult for me with my overnight work schedule. Seeing familiar faces in the tailgate lot and harassing my co-writers in person is way more fun than doing it on Twitter.
But the winning was pretty great too, it’s hard to write the same recap and thoughts after losses. And we don’t have to see a Burgundy vs Red jersey matchup in March this year so we have that going for us, too!