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Post match thoughts following the Revs season opener

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Josh and Matt weigh in with their thoughts on the Revs season opener in Montreal

New England Revolution v Montreal Impact Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

JOSH:

1.) Kessler Shines Bright In MLS Debut

After an impressive preseason, rookie defender Henry Kessler was given the nod and played all 90 minutes in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Montreal.

On multiple occasions, Kessler found a way to get a hold of the ball and clear it out of danger. Kessler also showed great defensive vision and IQ as he was able to cover on several occasions for defenders who fell behind the attacker.

Overall, Henry Kessler built off his good performances from the preseason and displayed great defensive skills. Whether he stays in that starting roll is undetermined, but Kessler gave his all over those 90 minutes.

2.) Teal Nets First Goal Of 2020 Season

After a 2019 campaign which saw the 30-year-old attacker net 6 goals and 2 assists, Teal Bunbury started off the 2020 season by scoring the Revs lone goal.

Although he only played 66 minutes during Saturday’s match, Bunbury will look to build on the momentum generated with his goal and build on it as he looks to have an impressive 2020 season.

3.) Bou-Buksa Disconnect

Although the two DP’s connected well during the 2020 preseason, that was not the case during Saturday’s match.

Buksa and Bou combined for 6 shots with 3 on goal and ended with 0 goals and 0 assists. Although they didn’t have the greatest connection, I feel that things will change and we will see that connection grow over the season and into the future.

4.) Playing Surface

Due to Montreal’s cold weather, Saturday’s game was held in Stade Olympique.

Over the course of the game, you could see how much the ball bounced off it and how uneven it was. There was a time where Matt Turner would set the ball down for a goal kick and you could see the ball just start rolling.

Speaking of Matt Turner, it appears that that cursed surface nearly put an end to his season as it began. New England faithful were relieved to see Turner proceed but thinking that it could have been worse was a scary thought.

Montreal also had the upper hand considering that they had just competed in Stade Olympique during the CONCACAF Champions League.

Overall, the playing surface in Stade Olympique was terrible and caused issues for the Revolution.

Matt:

1.) Kessler and Buksa made their MLS debut

I’d say that Kessler did a much better job of living up to or exceeding expectations in his first MLS match, but while both players showed glimpses of promising futures, both did show their youth and inexperience as well. Kessler overall was in the right positions and showed confidence in his defending, but could better utilize his size as he gets more comfortable with the speed and physicality of the league. On the opposite third, Buksa showed that he can be a big target in the attacking area, but needs to do a better job of finishing his opportunities.

2.) Zahibo made his presence felt

I go back and forth on how I feel about Zahibo on this Revs team, but I liked what I saw out of him in the opener. He came in and nearly scored a goal early in the second half, and is a physical presence in the midfield that is lacking with some of the smaller more finesse players that the Revs utilize in that part of the field. I’m not sure why Scott Caldwell got he nod to start this one, but I don’t expect to see that many more times this season barring injuries.

3.) Arena appeared to be playing for a point rather than 3

This was the first game since Bruce Arena took over that I found myself questioning some of his lineup decisions. Not only did I not love Caldwell over Zahibo to start, I also wasn’t crazy about seeing Teal (who scored the Revs only goal, so hopefully that confidence carries forward) subbed off for Mancienne in the 66th minute. Taking out the one guy who found the back of the net to bring in another defender and seemingly shift to a more defensive formation to try and keep the game level at 1-1 was strange.

4.) Carles Gil is just as important as we thought he was

The absence of the 2019 MLS Newcomer of the Year award winner was incredibly noticeable in the way that the offense functioned in Montreal. Without Gil in the midfield to direct the offence and distribute the ball to players in attacking positions, Gustavo Bou had to play in more of that facilitator role. While Bou was able to fill in better than most, it’s not how he is best utilized. Hopefully having Gil back in the near future will force teams to pay more attention to him and leave Bou and Buksa to find space. With that big three in place drawing attention from opponents defenses, the Revs have plenty of offensive minded players who should be able to capitalize.