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The Bent Musket roundtable: Who is the most improved player of 2021 season?

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What Revolution player has grown the most this season?

MLS: New England Revolution at CF Montreal David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021 MLS season has seen many different players step up for the New England Revolution.

Fans have been able to see the emergence of young players and some players who seemed to be destined for reduced roles have maintained spots in the starting XI.

So who does The Bent Musket think is the most improved 2021 season? Let’s take a look.

Sam - DeJuan Jones

When the Revolution acquired Christian Mafla, I thought Jones was going to be a sub for most of the season. He has proven me wrong in the best way.

Jones has been great on the left flank attacking opponents and providing service into the box for New England’s forwards with a career-high three goals and four assists.

2021 has been an absolute breakout season for the left back. He’s even getting looks from Bundesliga clubs.

Considering the expectations headed into the season, Jones has to be the most improved player in 2021.

Josh - Matt Polster

One of the more underappreciated factors in this Revs 2021 run, Polster has seen nothing but improvement since joining the Revolution last season.

In 2021, Polster has started to flash his offensive prowess as he netted his first two goals as a member of the Revolution, and both came against a strong Philadelphia defense.

Additionally, Polster has improved in a majority of statistical categories. He saw his accurate pass numbers rise from 406 to 1,069, while his passing percentage rose to 90 percent in 2021.

One of Polster’s most substantial improvements has been his ability to pass in both zones. In 2020, Polster completed 192 forward zone passes and 215 back zone passes. Polster has blown those numbers out of proportion in 2021 as he’s completed 547 forward zone passes and 524 back-zone passes.

Polster’s defensive efforts have seen a vast improvement. While his duel percentage only rose 2.9%, the number of duels he initiated rose from 89 in 2020 to 205 in 2021. Polster saw his interceptions rise from 20 to 36 in 2021. We also saw Polster become more confident on the defensive side of the ball as he increased his tackles from 11 to 25 in 2021.

I think Polster’s most significant improvement has been his discipline. Through 15 appearances in 2020, Polster saw yellow four times while also seeing red once. Through his 26 games in 2021, Polster has cut down on the frequency of his yellows as he has seen it six times while not seeing red at all in 2021.

Jake - Tajon Buchanan

Look, the Revs legitimately have about a half dozen players who you could make a case for here. The fullbacks Jones and Bye, Polster playing at what I think is a worthy Best XI level, Jon Bell and Maciel have been absolutely solid making the jump from the USL/Revs II level, and I think Adam Buksa has improved tremendously from last year after a pandemic altered year kind of ruined any shot at building chemistry with his new team.

But there is only one correct answer, and that is the meteoric rise that is Tajon Buchanan. Because he hasn’t just done it with the Revs, he’s done it at the U23 Olympic level and the senior international level with Canada. Last season in 11 starts and 1100 total minutes in the regular season he notched two goals and two assists with an additional goal and tremendous impact from the right back spot in the playoffs.

This year in 16 starts (22 games total) and over 1,400 minutes, Tajon has 7 goals, 5 assists, and 51 fouls drawn against the opposition or about one every half hour. Buchanan has deserved all of the accolades for club and country and his subsequent transfer to Belgium’s Club Brugge. We saw glimpses of his potential last year when Gil was out injured and in the playoffs but he is a game changer when on the field for the Revolution and the jump he has taken this year wins him the most improved player in a landslide I think.