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Revolution II players cherish the opportunity to train with the first team

Six Revolution II players have been training with the first team since the beginning of the preseason.

Jon Bell (right) and Connor Presley (back left) are two Revolution II players training with the first team.
Paul-Michael Ochoa

Since New England Revolution’s preseason started on March 1, six Revolution II players have been training with the first team. It’s a golden opportunity for the USL League One players to grow and learn from athletes with MLS quality.

The group of Revolution II players with the first team includes six names: Joe Rice, Colby Quiñones, Maciel, Connor Presley, Jon Bell, and Francois Dulysse. Members of this cohort are still unsure whether they’ll be invited to the Revolution’s preseason trip to Los Angeles on March 24, with decisions outstanding.

Now two weeks into preseason, several Revolution II players are emerging as standouts in camp.

One star has been Maciel, a 21-year-old holding midfielder who was the only member of Revolution II to start all 16 matches last season. Since preseason began, Andrew Farrell has spoken highly of Maciel on the Far Post Podcast, and fellow midfielder Polster also praised the Brazilian.

“When I first came here [in July 2020], I wasn’t able to go down to Florida with the group because of COVID regulations, so I was training with Revs II and Maciel was one of the players that kind of caught my eye,” Polster said. “I definitely think he has the ability to play at this level. I think training with us will help him. He’s done well with us so far and I think as long as he keeps progressing, he definitely has a chance.”

Bruce Arena also mentioned Maciel’s name when asked about the Revolution’s midfield, putting him in the same breath as Kaptoum, McNamara, and Caicedo.

“I think in those positions we have Wilfrid Kaptoum as well as Tommy McNamara, and Maciel from the second team is in training in that position as well,” Arena said when asked about the midfield position. “And did I mention Luis Caicedo? There’s a lot of competition there and it’s an area we need to be better in.”

Whether that statement will manifest in a call-up for Maciel is unknown, but the report reflects the efficacy of Revolution II. Players on the new second team offer depth and support under the first-team roster, injecting more competition into the franchise.

Tajon Buchanan and Scott Caldwell also dished praise to the Revolution II players during interviews last week. Buchanan said “they’ve all been holding themselves pretty well and doing well,” while Scott mentioned that “they’re all eager to learn, they’re all doing great, and it’s good to see.”

Joe Rice is another standout player for Revolution II that’s currently with the first team, and for him, it’s a chance to learn under a talented crop of first-team keepers. The “goalkeeper union,” as Rice would call it, includes Matt Turner, Brad Knighton, and Earl Edwards Jr.

While Turner is the hallmark of that group, Rice said that each keeper has helped him. For example, he called Knighton an “absolute pro” who has taught him how to prepare for training and take care of his body afterward. “He’s an absolute beast,” Rice added.

“I’ve been there a week-and-a-half and I believe my game has increased just being… surrounded by such high-level players,” Rice said. “Everything that coach has been telling me is ‘watch Matt and try to... see if you can copy that and replicate that.’”

Colby Quiñones is the youngest Revolution II player training with the Revolution at just 17. But it’s not Colby’s first appearance in first-team preseason camp; in 2019, he was invited to train with the team by former head coach Brad Friedel.

“Back then, I was 15 years old,” Colby recalled. “At that time, getting that experience was a confidence booster and that really elevated my game just having the confidence to play with older guys. Now, two years later, I’m much more confident going into it. I know a lot more things than I did in the past.”

Quiñones, a right-back, played in 14 games for Revolution II last year, stepping into a starting role just three games into the season. He’s parlayed last year’s success into a call-up for the Puerto Rican national team, as well as an invite to this year’s Revolution preseason camp.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to do this—right now at this age, early on in the season,” Quiñones said. “With the goal I had of playing in the MLS in the next few years, this is definitely a step in the right direction.”

“Every day I’m getting more confident. I’m learning new things every day, I’ve been watching film almost every single day. Getting all these opportunities—whether it’s with the national team or the first team—it’s letting me know that what I’m doing is right and if I stay on this path, good things will come in the future.”

Tajon Buchanan, DeJuan Jones, and Brandon Bye are all players who play right back on the Revolution, giving Quiñones a perhaps blurry path up to the starting role on Arena’s team. But, with hard work, the youngster is confident that he can accomplish his goal. He’s using every day to inch closer, too, spending time focusing on Buchanan, Jones, and Bye in training to see how they play.

“Seeing their quality—how fit they are, their touches on the ball—are things I can learn from,” Quiñones said. “Every time they reach out and talk to me I make sure to listen and take it all in because everything they say is what will take you to the next level.”

Quiñones, Rice, and the rest of the Revolution II players with the first team are using the opportunity to the best of their ability, soaking in every day. And whether it’ll help propel them to the Revolution or not, at the very minimum, it will shape them into even sturdier pieces on Revolution II.