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10 Thoughts about the Revolution’s preseason so far

I want to see Kelyn Rowe play as a number 10 and other thoughts from leg one of preseason.

MLS: Montreal Impact at New England Revolution Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Revolution are heading back to Arizona for leg two of preseason. Here are ten thoughts about what we’ve seen so far:

  1. Kei Kamara is red hot and that’s a good thing. Having only scored seven goals after his mid-season arrival to the Revs, it’s safe to say that Kamara’s 2016 was underwhelming. The striker appears to be ready to rectify that, as he’s already scored three goals in as many preseason games. A healthy and hungry Kamara is sure to cause defenders headaches.
  2. Don’t look past Brian Wright. Many people were concerned about the departure of Femi Hollinger-Janzen, who had a solid rookie campaign despite being picked 51st overall in the MLS SuperDraft. Femi’s effort and skill made him a likable figure, but he’s still replaceable, especially since he struggled to stay healthy. I don’t expect Wright to make many starts this season but I do predict that he’ll make an impact off the bench.
  3. The Revs should sign Joshua Smith. Everyone expected the Revs to go after defenders in the draft, but the club opted for two attackers. In fact, the only defender they chose was selected with the 75th overall pick. That said, it looks like the Revs got a good one, as Smith has impressed throughout camp, even showing his aerial prowess by scoring against Sporting KC.
  4. I want to see the new guys. Unfortunately we haven’t had a streamed preseason game, which has forced us to make judgments based on quick clips and available tweets. These resources have made us believe that Antonio Delamea has looked comfortable in games, Xavier Kouassi should be a force when healthy, and Benjamin Angoua has the experience to be an MLS stud. This is all well and good, but I’m ready to formulate my own hot takes based on live action.
  5. Cody Cropper should be the starter. With four goalkeepers on the roster (I’ll get to that in a minute), head coach Jay Heaps has an important decision to make. To me, the answer is clear. Cropper is a young goalkeeper that needs minutes to fulfill his potential. He’s already shown the ability to make breathtaking saves and he has more to offer as long as he’s entrusted with the top spot.
  6. I’m okay with keeping four goalkeepers on the roster as long as one gets loaned out. At first glance it doesn’t make a lot of sense to carry four bodies at a position where you can only play one at a time. That said, each netminder has a role on the team. As explained before, Cropper should be the starter. Behind him will be Brad Knighton and Bobby Shuttleworth, two guys that can competently step in if needed. Matt Turner has a lot of upside and should be loaned out in order to get games. Turner isn’t ready for MLS minutes just yet, but could become second- or third-choice next year if he does well in a lower division. At that time, the Revs should part ways with Knighton and/or Shuttleworth. If the Revs want to keep all four goalkeepers in Foxboro then I’m back to being confused.
  7. Kelyn Rowe deserves some minutes as the number 10. Lee Nguyen has been the Revolution’s go-to attacking midfielder since 2012, which has forced Rowe to play elsewhere. Just this past year, Rowe was deployed as a wide midfielder, defensive midfielder, and left back. This versatility is good—and some believe that he has a future as a left back—but I want to see Rowe in his natural position. This might mean that Nguyen plays as a second striker, out wide, or is just given a rest.
  8. If Donnie Smith becomes a legitimate left back then Heaps deserves a lot of credit. Smith has only played 311 MLS minutes since being drafted in 2013. That said, the North Carolina native could be ready to breakout at any moment. Originally a midfielder, Smith has transitioned to the backline, making several steady appearances last season. The 26-year-old appears to be the understudy for Chris Tierney, which means he could occasionally get minutes. Heaps has often been criticized for not developing enough players. The gaffer could put a tally in the win column if Smith turns out to be more than a spot starter,
  9. Where does Teal Bunbury fit in? Before the draft, there were rumors that Bunbury wanted out of New England. The validity of those claims were never confirmed, though it wouldn’t surprise me. Bunbury was great as a target winger when the Revs played a 4-1-4-1, but now that the team has shifted towards a 4-4-2 Bunbury appears to be on the fringes. Unlikely to play on the wing, it appears that Bunbury’s best chance for minutes could be as a striker. That said, I don’t see him beating out Kamara or Juan Agudelo.
  10. The new secondary uniform looks better than I initially thought. Count me among those who were skeptical about the half red, half white look. To me, it looked incomplete. My view has since shifted since seeing the full uniform. Would I have preferred a full red jersey or one that incorporated green? Probably, but the new design is unique, which is a rarity in MLS.