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Jon Bell makes MLS Debut against Philadelphia Union

The 23-year-old defender got his first start for the New England Revolution.

MLS: New England Revolution at Philadelphia Union Mitchell Leff-USA TODAY Sports

With the New England Revolution playing two games in five days, Bruce Arena decided to give Henry Kessler a break and give Jon Bell his first career MLS start. It’s safe to say that Bell didn’t disappoint.

Bell played all 90 minutes against the Philadelphia Union. He completed 77% of his passes while also having two successful tackles, two interceptions, and a team-high five clearances. For his first start, it was quite the performance for Bell.

It’s easy to forget that Bell isn’t a natural center back. He mostly played left back until last season with Revs II.

That’s why it helps to have a veteran such as Andrew Farrell playing alongside the rookie. After the game, Bell spoke to the media about his relationship with Farrell.

The 23-year-old said, “Andrew [Farrell] is one the guys that when I first came in at preseason, he was really open to helping me a lot because he knows that I’m still learning center back and he’s always a person that has always allowed me to ask some questions at practice and because we also got to play a lot together in preseason when we were in LA too. Our relationship with each other on the field just makes it even easier for us. And just that off-the-field a relationship as well just helps me a lot.”

With the start, Bell became the second Revs II player to start in a first-team game as fellow Revs II product Maciel got his third consecutive start.

After the draw, Bell also spoke to the media about getting to start along with Maciel.

He said, “It’s just really a blessing. That’s the whole reason for Revolution II, for guys like us, that we can make that transition from the second team to the first team. For us to be both on the field at the same time and starting – Maciel already has got now three games under his belt – it’s just a really great feeling for the both of us. I’m really happy for him because you know he’s still excelling, he’s still playing his game the way he played it at Revs II, so just a really great opportunity for both of us.”

Bell proved that he can be a reliable option at center back. He didn’t make a lot of mistakes and actually made some key plays that helped the Revolution. If Kessler or Farrell need a rest, Arena can trust that Bell can get the job done.

The Head Coach and Sporting Director was pleased with Bell’s performance against Philadelphia.

He said, “Jon’s played very well for us. In preseason, he suffered a hamstring injury in our last preseason game in LA that put him back a little bit and we have been looking for an opportunity to get him on the field. Tonight was a good time and I think he took advantage of the opportunity. He played very well.”

Bell’s next opportunity to play will be on Sunday when Columbus SC faces off against New England at 6 PM.