Let’s not sugarcoat things, the 2016 season hasn’t gone the New England Revolution’s way. The club currently sits in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with a 6-12-9 record and a league-worst -18 goal differential.
So, what went wrong for a team that some considered to be MLS Cup contenders? Here are four moments that defined the Revs’ season.
Jermaine Jones is traded to the Colorado Rapids
Jones’ future was a major story line this off season. The USMNT midfielder helped lead the Revs to the MLS Cup Final in 2014 but was less influential during his second year. With an impending six-game suspension and a constant threat of a new injury occurring, the Revs shipped Jones to the Rapids in exchange for Colorado’s natural first-round draft pick in the 2017 SuperDraft and General Allocation Money.
In retrospect, the move was a fine piece of business for the Revs, as Jones has only made eight appearances this season. That said, Jones was such an important piece for the Revs. The energy he brought to the midfield made you believe that the Revolution could beat anyone on any day. More than that, Jones was a natural leader in the locker room.
Trading Jones was perfectly fine; not having a suitable replacement was the problem.
Xavier Kouassi gets injured
The Revolution made big news one month before trading Jones when they signed FC Sion midfielder Xavier Kouassi to a Designated Player contract. It seemed like a great move for the Revolution, who would be replacing the 34-year-old Jones with the 26-year-old Kouassi. Were the two players like-for-like? Probably not, but there was a lot of optimism about what Kouassi, who captained his Swiss club, could bring to the Revs.
Then disaster struck.
When he signed with the Revs, Kouassi still had half a season left to play with FC Sion before he could move to the states via a free transfer. Unfortunately, Kouassi would suffer a major knee injury just one week after the announcement that he would be coming to MLS. The midfielder has been sidelined ever since and it’s unknown if he’ll play this season.
The Revs ultimately added Gershon Koffie and Je-Vaughn Watson, both of which have spent time playing the defensive midfielder role. Although the league veterans have been quite good at times, they have also had questionable moments that have caused fans to wonder what this team would be like if Kouassi was available.
The Revs trade for Kei Kamara
A few months into the 2016 season it became clear that the Revs needed to do find a spark. The defense was leaking goals and the attack wasn’t scoring many. The front office decided to fix the latter by trading for Kamara of Columbus Crew SC. The Revs got the runner-up for the 2015 Golden Boot while sending Crew SC General Allocation Money, Targeted Allocation Money, New England’s highest First Round MLS SuperDraft pick in 2017, New England’s highest Second Round MLS SuperDraft pick in 2018, and one of New England’s international roster spots for the 2016 season.
It was quite the package, but it seemed to make sense. The Revs’ crop of forwards, which included Juan Agudelo, Charlie Davies, and Femi Hollinger-Janzen, were streaky and often injured. Meanwhile, Kamara is a pure goal-scorer and the thought of him getting on the end of Chris Tierney’s service was just too good to pass up.
However, things haven’t worked out as planned. While the Revs can whip in a ball from the flanks, these crosses are often inaccurate. Furthermore, the team has traditionally liked to play quick passes on the ground, which isn’t Kamara’s style.
While it might be too soon to judge this trade fully, it’s worth considering that Kamara has only scored four goals in 16 league appearances with the Revs. Compare that to the five goals he collected in nine appearances with Crew SC before being traded. Numbers like this make you think that the team would’ve been better off shopping for defenders instead of adding Kamara.
Charlie Davies heads to the Philadelphia Union
After adding Kamara in the primary transfer window, the Revs made another splash in the secondary window. This time, however, they were trading some one away.
In the final moments of the summer transfer window, news emerged the Union were interested in Davies. The rumor became a reality by the next morning when it was announced that the Revs were sending Davies to the City of Brotherly Love along with their natural third-round pick in the 2018 SuperDraft in exchange for General Allocation Money, Targeted Allocation Money, and the Union’s natural first-round pick in the MLS SuperDraft.
Davies hasn’t done much for the Union since the trade (except grab an assist against the Revs) and, truth be told, it’s unknown how big of an impact he would’ve had in New England. The local product is 30 years old and had only amassed 14 goals in 64 regular-season appearances. Davies never stopped pushing, but his numbers weren’t sensational and he did have issues staying on the field.
That said, he was a workhorse and leader. Davies loved to score but also had no problem applying pressure as the first defender. He was also a positive locker room presence, as he kept things light while always staying focused on the ultimate goal.
The addition of Kamara crowded the striker position, but it didn’t have to spell the end of Davies.