Under normal circumstances, having only one defender available off the bench would be less than ideal for an MLS team. Even if that defender is a fifth string loanee that normally plays at the USL level and your tallest center back is 6-foot-even in cleats and oh yeah you’ve got your backup keeper in as well cause your starter is with the United States National Team trying to win a Gold Cup this weekend.
But the New England Revolution are not playing under normal circumstances. They’re a team leading the Supporter’s Shield race which is still strange to type. Heck, Mark Fishkin and co-host Joe Goldstein introduced me as covering said Shield leading team and it sounded weird then too.
By the way, you should listen to my Seeing Red podcast appearance, it was pretty good except for the million “ums” I said.
Comrade Greg Johnstone goes into more specifics about the Revs backline situation for tonight and the test the team faces, but despite the pressure on the back end of the depth chart, I have every confidence in New England right now and their ability and form on the field right now.
AJ DeLaGarza is a savvy veteran defender with a lot of experience and playing under head coach Bruce Arena in particular, Christian Mafla has gotten some regular minutes and spent a good chunk of the middle of the Montreal game locking down the left flank despite a rough start and end, and we know what Farrell and Bye and Knighton can do.
So yes, even if Colin Verfuth is the only true defensive option off the bench and Matt Polster or Tommy Mac are your emergency fullbacks, you still have a midfield with Carles Gil and Gustavo Bou starting up top and likely Adam Buksa available if needed (though I’d like him to get the week off as a precaution).
You’re also playing a New York Red Bulls team that you’ve beaten twice this year though they’re still massive pains in the you know what and playing at home this time around. We chat as always with our good friend Ben Cork from Once A Metro about the stagnant Energy Drinks offense and continue to wish Aaron Long a speedy recovery because ironically it’s his absence with the USMNT and other injuries that got Henry Kessler a replacement callup for the Gold Cup knockouts that caused some of the Revs current depth chart situation.
As always, check out my answers to Ben’s questions over on their site.
TBM: RBNY sits below the playoff line but have 5 of their next 7 at home. If this is a playoff team how many points do they need from this stretch to really solidify themselves in the playoff race?
BC: As many as possible. The sense in the fanbase that the team the team’s record is unflattering has shrunk a bit in recent weeks with the team struggling to take control of seemingly straightforward fixtures. Without delving into a prediction of how many points the team is capable of gathering, expectations would probably require the team to be well into the top half of the conference by the end of this home stand to prove the new project is working.
TBM: I think I’ve asked about this before...but the RBNY offense seems a little stagnant this month and has only 18 goals on the year through 14 games, have things improved since the last time we met and what are some of the tactics or personnel changes the squad has made to spur the offense?
BC: I wish I could say things have improved but unfortunately the goals have not flowed this month. The cancelled Miami game two weeks ago stings because many had looked forward to it as a chance for the team to open the floodgates of scoring form. While much criticism has been directed as starting forwards Fábio and Patryk Klimala, the truth is the team’s general dysfunction and instability due to constant injuries in defense has limited their ability to attack constructively. Additionally, Frankie Amaya has struggled to maintain consistent form and energy while fellow attacking midfielder Caden Clark is still working his way back to full fitness following an appendicitis operation last month.
TBM: We would have loved to have seen Aaron Long at the Gold Cup, or even the Nations League this summer but alas, we’ll have to settle for any updates you have on his recovery if there are any.
BC: Unfortunately no updates…other than the club saying his injury has accelerated their interest in a long term successor for Long. But in the meantime that’s a pipe dream for Red Bulls fans as zero signings have been made in central defense since.
OUT: Youba Diarra, Aaron Long, Andrew Gutman (questionable), Sean Nealis (questionable), Andres Reyes (questionable), Daniel Royer (questionable)
Lineup prediction: Coronel, Duncan, Edwards, Tarek, Tolkin, Davis, Casseres, Yearwood, Clark, Fabio, Klimala