The New England Revolution are currently on a four-game losing streak which they will hope to reverse quickly as they have six games between now and the All-Star break. The team's recent form hasn't been great as both the defense and offense have struggled. I don't have answers to why the team is undergoing this summer lull, but I do have questions.
1. Who are the best players to patrol the backline?
Six defenders and seven groupings have been used during league play this year. The most common configuration has put Jose Goncalves and AJ Soares as centerbacks and Chris Tierney and Andrew Farrell as outside backs. This setup has had mixed results as it has gone 2-4-1. The most successful backline has been Tierney-Soares-Farrell-Barnes, which has accrued a record of 4-0-0. Obviously the biggest omission from this grouping is Goncalves, who is the captain and reigning Defender of the Year. The Revolution's roster boasts a number of talented and experienced defenders, including Kevin Alston and Stephen McCarthy, but what is the best way to line them up?
2. Bobby Shuttleworth or Brad Knighton?
Head coach Jay Heaps has been upfront about the goalkeeping competition saying that "it's one of those things that is going to go on all year." Shuttleworth has gone 6-6-2 in league play this season while collecting a 1.21 goals against average, good for seventh best in MLS. Knighton has been limited to spot duty, earning a record of 0-2-0 in league play with a 3.00 goals against average. Competition is great, but it might be time to name a full-time number one goalkeeper.
3. What is going on with the attack?
The Revolution were the talk of MLS when they posted back-to-back 5-goal performances against the Seattle Sounders and the Philadelphia Union. It seemed like the attack couldn't be stopped as they outscored their opponents 19-6 during their seven-game unbeaten run. The Revs are now on a four-game losing streak with two goals scored and nine goals allowed. With a roster that includes creative minds like Lee Nguyen, Diego Fagundez and Kelyn Rowe, this team shouldn't be shutout very often.
4. Is it time to change the formation?
Last year, Heaps elegantly remedied the team's sluggish start, which included a 5-game winless streak, by introducing the 4-1-4-1 formation. The switch was masterful as Rowe and Nguyen complimented each other in the middle while Fagundez looked comfortable on the wing. This year, the team has been less effective when lining up in this formation. This could be because opponents have had more time to scout the Revolution or that the team doesn't have the right personal to run the system. Either way, it might be time to try something new.
5. What moves need to be made during the transfer window?
The summer transfer window opened on Tuesday and it won't close until August 6th. With two open roster spots, you have to imagine that the Revs will be looking to add a player or two to combat the recent slump. A clinical finisher could be on the docket to ease the burden placed on Patrick Mullins and perhaps even mentor the rising star. A hardnosed defensive midfielder might also be an ideal target. Perhaps the Revs will be looking to add a classic winger to help unlock defensive teams with pinpoint crosses from the flank. The coming weeks will be interesting as the Revolution front office will likely be looking to supplement their already talented roster.