The New England Revolution have looked a bit off the past few games. Yes, I know the game in NYC doesn’t really count for a variety of reasons, but there was still something missing to the Revs. An energy they need to find again.
Well good thing Teal Bunbury might be back from injury cause he is exactly what the Revs need right now. I know many of you have gripes about Teal’s ability to finish and whether or not he’s a striker or a winger or an outside midfielder at this point. It doesn’t matter where Teal plays, but I believe the Revs just need him on the field.
I’ve always loved having veterans players like Chad Barrett, JeVaughn Watson, and Daigo Kobayashi around, and it’s odd to think of Teal in the same way now because he wasn’t brought in to be a backup nor has he ever been for this team. He’s usually been a starter and has filled in at seemingly every every attacking or wide area position that changes so often it’s amazing he continues to be so effective on a weekly and yearly basis. But right now, that veteran experience and his never ending engine is something the Revs are going to need to stay above the line into October.
Even if Teal isn’t fit to start, just having him for 15-20 minutes to help close out this game might be enough. And a brutal stretch run in the schedule that includes a midweek game out in Portland, the Revs are going to need everyone available to not just secure a playoff spot, but maybe finish higher than 7th as well.
TBM: Orlando is four points behind New England in the East with the Revs holding a game in hand...can OCSC rise above the logjam in the standings or is a win this weekend likely too little, too late for a playoff push?
BM: At this point there isn’t really any room for error when it comes to Orlando City’s playoff hopes. The Lions have four games left and probably need to run the table and hope teams ahead of them slip up if they want to sneak into the playoffs. It’s possible that nine points could be enough but personally I think it’s going to take four wins from those four games.
TBM: I know that LAFC clinched the West against Orlando, but you still held them to a 2-2 draw and were winning that match for an hour. What worked well that match and how can you carry that over to the Revs match?
BM: Energy in the center of midfield during the first half was huge. Cristian Higuita and Dillon Powers were phenomenal at pressing LAFC’s back line and immediately charging down the ball whenever it came to the midfield. The team also had Ruan back from injury in the first time in a long time and he made a world of difference to the team’s attacking abilities. That energy and pressing is going to be something the Lions need to replicate without also replicating the wilt that came around the 60 minute mark. Obviously no one can sprint around a soccer field for a full 90 minutes, but with Will Johnson and Sebas Mendez unavailable through international duty the Lions weren’t able to bring in high quality like for like subs for the drained Higuita and Powers, and the team definitely suffered because of it in the second half.
TBM: Looking at the OCSC results for the year, it seems like Orlando really needed a long unbeaten run at some point (like early August) and it just never happened. Was there a moment or a game in 2019 where you thought a goal or a win could have pushed the Lions further up the standings?
BM: Much of the mid-late summer its felt that way to me. There are a whole host of games within the last month and a half or so where Orlando drew games where it held second half leads.Home draws with Toronto FC and LAFC, road draws against the Portland Timbers and Minnesota United, all games where OCSC couldn’t hold onto a second half lead. If the Lions win even two of those games it makes a huge difference in the teams Eastern Conference position. Their inability to do so is quite possibly the difference between what makes a team playoff material and what has them currently on the outside looking in.
Joao Moutinho and Mauricio Pereyra are both listed as questionable.
Brian Rowe, Kyle Smith, Lamine Sane, Robin Jansson, Ruan, Sebas Mendez, Cristian Higuita, Will Johnson, Nani, Tesho Akindele, Dom Dwyer
I think the Lions will be able to get it done in a big game and scrape out a 2-1 win at home.