The New England Revolution had their home opener on Saturday and it was a momentous occasion. Fans finally made their return to Gillette Stadium.
There was also the news that Arnór Traustason, Christian Mafla, and Wilfrid Kaptoum would be getting their first starts for the Revs. This meant that Tommy McNamara and Tajon Buchanan were knocked out of the starting XI.
Also of note was the fact that Maciel was not on the bench. He missed the first game of the season due to injury, but was not listed on the injury report prior to the game. Luis Caicedo also wasn’t on the match-day roster but he was listed as questionable with a lower body injury.
So what stood out against D.C. United? Here are three thoughts.
1 - The new guys
The fact that Traustason, Mafla, and Kaptoum all started is major news. They have been brought in to make an impact and it was nice to finally seem them all in the starting XI.
Traustason got involve quickly. He was able to use his physical ability to leap above defenders and win balls. The attacker was also able to win free kicks with his skill as he showed early on in the game.
Mafla looked strong at left back. He seems to be another player who can connect with attackers on long balls and help jumpstart the attack.
The only thing that was concerning was his defending. There were times where he failed to get back after helping out on the attack.
But If he played as he did on Saturday night, Mafla should be the starter at left back for the Revs moving forward.
Finally Kaptoum looked calm and at home in the midfield. He was solid on the ball and wasn’t afraid to get physical when he needed to. He distributed the ball well and was able to help out on the attack
Kaptoum was also solid defensively for New England. Overall it was a quality night for the Cameroonian.
Similar to Mafla, Kaptoum has the skill and ability to be a frequent starter for the Revs.
2 - New England struggles to generate chances
While New England was able to win corners and control most of the game, they failed to get any decent chances on net. They likely deserved to enter halftime with the lead but due to their lack of chances were stuck at 0-0.
The Revolution only had three shots on net entering halftime and only one shot was actually on target. Against a team such as D.C. United, that can’t be the case. This is a game that New England should be winning.
To the credit of the Revs, they did better in the second half, but even when they got quality shots they failed to score.
The Revs were able to get the three points due to an own goal, but that involved more luck than anything. With the type of players New England has up front, the club needs to generate more chances and score some goals.
3 - Back line returns to form
After a rough start against the Chicago Fire, New England’s back line looked much stronger. Whenever you give up no goals it’s usually a good sign.
Farrell and Kessler looked like they did in 2020. They were much better at clearing the ball and working under pressure. Farrell almost had a own goal but luckily it hit the post. Brandon Bye also looked solid defensively.
Mafla seems to be more of an attacking option at left back. Similar to Alexander Buttner last season, there were times where Mafla struggled to get back after joining in on the attack.
The Revolution will be happy that they got the win, but they definitely need to improve their play if they want to compete for an MLS Cup in 2021.