In a game with 22 shots and 13 corners, one might expect at least a goal - but that wasn’t the case in New England Revolution II’s opening match against Union Omaha. The back-and-forth fixture presented its fair share of action, substitutions, and ESPN+ technical difficulties, giving fans a taste of what’s to come from Clint Peay’s side. From personnel to tactics, here are five takeaways from today’s match:
Captain Collin Verfurth, Recent First Team Call-Up, Impresses At Back
The center back was an anchor in defense for the Revs II today, exhibiting great positional awareness, experience, and strength. The Virginia native spent his first professional season at Loudoun United of USL League One, where he recorded 23 appearances and 22 starts. Since joining Revs II, he hasn’t taken long to make a name for himself, recently earning a first team call-up. Verfurth’s combination of poise, strength, and technique cement him into a linchpin for Revs II, where he will continue to spend some time this season.
Ryan Spaulding Offers Attacking Potential
Left back Ryan Spaulding earned his 90 minutes today, clocking in a successful defensive shift while also providing several impressive attacking bouts. One of the best chances he created originated from a short corner, where he picked up the ball from Presley, only to beat a man inside the box and deliver a lofted cross from the goal line. Winger Mayele Malango met the ball in the air, but he’ll regret the poor connection he made with the ball, which fired well wide of the post.
Mayele Malango, Nicolas Firmino Were the Two Most Potent Attackers
Striker Orlando Sinclair didn’t offer much in today’s fixture, rarely finding the ball. Fortunately, right winger Mayele Malango and attacking midfielder Nicolas Firmino filled that void, both providing several attacking chances. Firmino—a homegrown talent who holds a contract with the first team—demonstrated his talent on several occasions, nearly finding the goal in the first half after capitalizing on a defensive error by Union Omaha. Malango matched Firmino’s effort, repeatedly beating defenders on the dribble and creating crossing and shooting opportunities. Both players are scary on the attack and should combine for a handful of goals this season.
Mendonca Puts in Solid Shift, Maciel Just OK
Mendonca and Maciel played alongside each other in the heart of midfield, sitting behind Firmino in the 4-3-3. Mendonca, a Portuguese native who recently wrapped up a career with the Providence Friars, connected well between the lines and provided a defensive shield in front of the back four. He was quick with his touches and impressed with his technique. Meanwhile, Maciel struggled to create a presence in possession and failed to create much going forward; compounding matters was his weak defensive shift. These comments are not to suggest that he played terribly, which is definitely not the case, but rather describe a rather unimpressive performance that he can certainly improve on.
As Expected, Revs II Offers a Fertile Ground for Academy Standouts to Elevate
A core impetus behind the formation of Revs II was to provide a platform for academy players to improve at the next level, and today’s match showed a commitment to that principle. Nicolas Firmino grinded out a solid shift for Revs II today, which is perfect for the homegrown talent who isn’t quite ready to earn minutes for the first team yet. Furthermore, Trevor Burns and Kaoru Fujiwara featured off the bench, both showing flashes of creativity that they cultivated throughout years with the academy. Revs II should continue to give players like Firmino, Burns, and Fujiwara a place to develop and grow as they shoot for professional careers.