Those who know Maciel weren’t surprised by the shift he offered on Saturday night.
The 21-year-old started in the center of the park in the New England Revolution’s preseason opener against the LA Galaxy. He was calm during his 70-minute outing, winning tackles and finding passes. Perhaps most impressive was the way he positioned himself throughout the night.
This was Maciel’s first-team debut, but he’s no stranger to the organization as he featured in all 16 games for Revolution II in 2020. Just five days after signing his first-team contract, Maciel was on the field and his teammates were confident he’d be ready to go.
“I saw him at Revs II, so I know he’s got some good qualities,” Matt Polster explained. “He played really well. He’s super composed on the ball. He found good passes, defended well, picked up some second balls. He’s doing everything he needs to do as a defensive mid, as a six.”
Making the jump to the next level can be difficult, as the play is faster and more aggressive. Jon Bell, who also played with Revs II last year, thinks Maciel is up for the task.
“Maciel is literally just a baller,” Bell told The Bent Musket. “What he did last night is what he did all last year with Revs II. He plays the game at his own pace and he doesn’t let anyone throw him off his rhythm.”
Bell noted that Maciel is always able to get out of tough situations. No spot is too adverse for the midfielder as he “gets out of it with ease,” according to Bell, because he “always has the composure.”
Maciel will need to keep that confidence if he wants to be a regular in Bruce Arena’s game-day 18 during the regular season. Competition is particularly tight in the middle with Polster, Wilfrid Kaptoum, Luis Caicedo, Scott Caldwell, and Tommy McNamara all fighting for minutes.
There’s certainly a chance that Maciel ends up playing with Revs II, but those who know him wouldn’t be surprised to see him with the first team.