First and foremost, get one thing out of the way: the only person who truly has all of the insight on the makeup of this club is Jay Heaps. That being said, with First Kick 2013 approaching rapidly, it's time to take a look and see if we can figure out where this roster is headed, and how it all shapes up.
We're going to break it down by position, and then by numbers, as in, who I believe will end up starting, and who may be the back up, etc. To be quite honest, it's not very difficult at first, but once you dive in, you realize how complicated it really is.
1. Matt Reis. The long-standing Revs keeper is back for another run in 2013, and while we may see a little bit more of Bobby Shuttleworth this year, don't get it twisted; it's Matt Reis' job.
2. Bobby Shuttleworth. Bobby showed dramatic improvement down the stretch last year and led the Revs to some impressive results to finish out the year. Perhaps one more year of apprenticeship will do for Shuttleworth.
3. Luis Soffner. Considered one of the best goalkeeper's in the 2013 draft class, Soffner is a long way from seeing significant minutes in a Revs uniform. Perhaps a move to Rochester is on the horizon?
1. A.J. Soares. The former first round draft pick has certainly seen his ups and downs in his first couple of campaigns, but his leadership and technique still make him a must-start for Jay Heaps.
2. Darrius Barnes. Yes, I am aware of recent signings, understand the Revs went out and signed a European defender, but I've been saying this for quite some time now: Darrius Barnes needs to see the field more in 2013. He's got the seasoning, the physical prowess, and now he needs the playing time.
3. Jose Goncalves/Stephen McCarthy. While Goncalves certainly garnered some headlines when he joined the Revs from Portugal, I'm still leery about bringing in these international defenders (see: Lozano, John). Also, we just simply haven't seen enough of Goncalves yet for me to make a move for him to start. After seeing him a bit more in the DDC, maybe things will be a bit more clear.
McCarthy was a wonderful story last year, switching to CB from CDM when it was evident he could crack the lineup there. He was the perfect physical presence the team needed, but at times his lack of CB experience showed. With the Revs acquiring Goncalves, and now Farrell (who can also play CB), McCarthy once again has to find a way to stand out.
4. Andrew Farrell. The #1 overall draft pick has seen time at CB as well, and if the Revs need him to fill in at CB, he's more than capable. By the end of the season, he could easily be one of the team's best at CB, too.
1. Kevin Alston. Still the best outside back on the team, and will continue to play a vital role in the Revolution defense.
2. Andrew Farrell. If all reports are true, and he really is "professional ready", Farrell should start day one. While it remains to be seen how they'll line up, there's a reason why the Revs moved up to get Farrell.
3. Chris Tierney/Bilal Duckett. While I think the signing of Duckett is great for depth and competition, I also don't think it means the end of Chris Tierney. Believe it or not, this is one of the best training camp battles in my opinion. Alston and Farrell come with all of the fanfare and attention, but these two are going to have a lot to say about this 2013 season. Depth at the back is majorly important.
4. Tyler Polak. It's just going to be so difficult to find minutes for Polak. I'd love to see him in Rochester, getting time every weekend. A Generation Adidas player deserves the minutes to develop, but he just can't seem to get them here.
1. Lee Nguyen. The departure of Benny Feilhaber certainly has paved the way for someone to step up and take the CAM role by the horns. While Nguyen played on the left flank for most of 2012, he's also one of the best midfielders and creative minds on the roster. If it's my team, Nguyen starts at CAM in Chicago.
2. Kalifa Cisse. Cisse falls into that same "wait and see" category as players like Goncalves and Farrell, but if pedigree is any indication, Cisse could easily be the team's best pick up of the offseason.
3. Clyde Simms. His performances last year were so smooth at times, I just started referring to him as The Professional. While the addition of Cisse and Andy Dorman is going to push Simms, he's still an absolute pro and necessary veteran presence.
4. Andy Dorman. A member of the old-guard, Dorman brings a steady patience to the field, as well as a bit of a bite. A good presence, and strong tackling art will push Dorman to receive quality minutes.
5. Scott Caldwell. The Revs home grown talent has plenty of skill, and has certainly shown that he can handle the MLS style thus far in preseason. If Caldwell can find a niche, whether it be as a creator or super-sub, he can certainly contribute in 2013.
1. Kelyn Rowe. I'm definitely going out on a limb here, because many feel like Rowe hit the wall towards the end of the year in 2012. However, I feel like he's poised to break out, especially with another preseason camp under his belt.
2. Juan Toja. Often the forgotten man, Toja has the skill and experience to man the left flank in 2013. The question is: can he stay healthy?
3. Ryan Guy. The speed, the motor, and the absolute refusal to give up all come together to make Guy a very viable option on the outside. With the addition of Farrell, I feel like the "Ryan Guy to Right Back" conversations have died down, which is good.
4. Diego Fagundez. I was very pleased with what Fagundez brought to the team when he switched to the midfield down the stretch in 2012. By playing him on the outside, you minimize the negative effects of his lack of size, and utilize his speed and creativity.
5. Sainey Nyassi. He's got the one tool that managers kill for: game-changing speed. However, recently, he hasn't even possessed that. If he's healthy, he can change the dynamic of any game.
1. Jerry Bengtson. This team will only go as far as he takes them. I truly feel like I am not overstating that.
2. Saer Sene. If the Frenchman recovers nicely, his partnership with Bengtson could be one of the best in MLS.
3. Chad Barrett. Crazy to think that someone that is just joining the team could end up being the starter on opening day.
4. Matt Horth/Dimitry Imbongo. Imbongo is viewed more as a physical project, but the addition of Horth gives the Revs a bigger forward that can hold up in MLS play. It will be interesting to see which one of the two forwards steps up to earn the minutes that will be available in the absence of Bengtson (International duty) and Sene (injury).
So there you have it. A very rough, very early look at how this roster shakes down. Everything can change over the course of the rest of the preseason, and with other signings looking imminent, it's almost a certainty that this roster will look very different at First Kick.
What do you think? Let the debate begin! Share your thoughts in the comments below!