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The Bent Musket roundtable: Who is New England’s Best Defender in 2021

After Henry Kessler won the award in 2020, who will be crowned the best defender for the Revs back line?

SOCCER: OCT 20 MLS - New England Revolution at DC United Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The New England Revolution back line has had its ups and downs this season but they have also been able to take advantage of some great plays over the course of the season.

Compared to prior seasons when New England got a lot of its production out of its center back pairing, the Revs have been able to get production from all over the back line in 2021.

But what defender has been the best? Here’s what the staff of The Bent Musket thinks.

Sam - Henry Kessler

Henry Kessler racks up another award in my opinion.

While his lack of playing time in the beginning of the season was head-scratching, Kessler has been one of the more reliable players this season.

The 23-year-old continued to show how talented a defender he was. He knows when to go in for a tackle and when to ensure that a foul isn’t called on him.

Kessler has also grown as a leader. He isn’t afraid to get in the face of his opponents, especially if they dare touch Matt Turner. Also, who can forget his time-wasting in Philadelphia?

Also, the center back has improved his on-the-ball skills and just seems to be making strides in all aspects of the game. Kessler is the future of the back line and he deserves to once again be named New England’s Best Defender.

Jake - Matt Polster

Yes, the rest of the guys are going to court martial me because Matt Polster is technically a defensive midfielder and not a true defender but hear me out.

The regular starting backline as a whole (Jones, Kess, AF, Bye) have been good individually this year. As a unit however, I think they’ve taken a step back. The Revs give up a ton of big chances and have looked switched off at times where they’ve given up goals and if it were not for the last godlike defender on the team, Matt Turner, I think the Revs would not be as far ahead as they are right now. I love Farrell’s leadership, I love Jones in the final third, I love Bye’s improved crossing, and we all love Kess’ growth and late-game CONCACAFings.

But the player who too often has stood out this year and consistently so has been Polster. He is criminally underrated, puts out a lot of fires that never get to the backline, starts possession often from between the centerbacks, presses, causes turnovers, and starts counterattacks. Polster has been an elite passer this year at just under 90% and has been a set-piece threat in the box as well of late. Of the usual spots in the MLS Best XI 3-4-3, at most, only one holding midfielder gets in and I think Polster deserves to be in that conversation.

Dolan - Matt Turner

(Editor’s note: He lets his photos do the talking)

©J. Alexander Dolan

Seth - Andrew Farrell

Unlike Jake and Dolan, I’m actually going to follow the rules regarding the Revs’ Defender of the Year award.

Kessler is a good shout as his full-time return to the starting lineup created stability. The second-year player has all the qualities you want from a center back as he reads the game well and knows when to be physical. I’d have no qualms with him being named the team’s best defender for the second straight year.

That said, Farrell’s status as ironman deserves recognition as he’s started all but one game this year, logging 2,610 minutes. His veteran presence was immense when the Revs alternated between Jon Bell and Kessler. This year also saw the former first-round draft pick become the Revolution’s all-time leader in MLS appearances, starts, and minutes. Naming Farrell as the team’s Defender of the Year would be a nice way to acknowledge how much he’s meant to the club.

I’d also like to note that DeJuan Jones could end up getting my vote because he’s been stellar at left back.