The New England Revolution are handing starting debuts to three players this evening, with rookies Andrew Farrell and Donnie Smith making their professional debuts, while Kalifa Cisse makes his MLS debut in the center of the pitch.
Jay Heaps' first lineup of 2013 already looks considerably different than those sent out last season. The New England Revolution appear to have moved to either a 4-4-1-1 or a 4-2-3-1 formation, which marks a significant departure from the usual 4-4-2 of 2012. It is, however, something that the team has flirted with throughout preseason.
As announced, Matt Reis is backstopping the squad. Right in front of him is the now-familiar back line of Farrell, Goncalves, Soares, and Alston. Given what's been going on the last couple of months, none of this is unexpected.
In midfield, Heaps continues to favor the double-pivot system, putting Kalifa Cisse and Clyde Simms together in the center. However, by leaving Jerry Bengtson as his only true striker, it appears he's placing three attackers ahead of the Cisse-Simms partnership, opening up the midfield for more creativity than the two defensive midfielders would otherwise allow.
Perhaps most striking is the inclusion of Donnie Smith in the starting lineup. The rookie went from unsigned camp hopeful to starting MLS midfielder in just a few weeks, and if his performances in preseason are any indication, he should add some considerable width and verve to the outside.
(R to L): Reis; Farrell, Goncalves, Soares, Alston; Smith, Simms, Cisse, Nguyen, Toja; Bengtson