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The Bent Musket Roundtable: Who should start at CB?

The Bent Musket discusses who should start at center back

SOCCER: JUL 03 MLS - New England Revolution at Columbus Crew Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Right now one of the biggest problems for the New England Revolution has been the play of their backline. The defense has been too leaky and with Matt Turner away with the USMNT, they need to improve fast.

Unlike the 2020 season, New England hasn’t had a consistent CB pairing. Henry Kessler and Andrew Farrell started the majority of games while in 2021, Jon Bell has received a run of starts.

So now that it’s July, who should be the two starting center backs? Here’s what The Bent Musket has to say.

Seth: Henry Kessler and Andrew Farrell

I liked the idea of getting Bell minutes early in the season because injuries and suspensions can happen at any time. I also liked that Bell made the most of the opportunity, showcasing his pace and heading ability.

That said, I’d like to see Kessler and Farrell paired together for a run of games. Kessler gets the edge on Bell because he’s a natural center back, which helps with positioning and tackling. Kessler also does a nice job of using his body when defending.

A lot of people have been critical of Farrell recently, but he’s a solid veteran presence on the back line. He paired well with Kessler last year and I’d like to give them an opportunity to reclaim that magic. That said, I’m not against giving Farrell a break to see how Kessler pairs with Bell or A.J. DeLaGarza.

Sam: Kessler and Farrell

Andrew Farrell is going to be a part of your starting backline. Some people might not like it but it’s the truth for right now. Unless the Revs grab a center back in the Summer Transfer Window, there is no way he loses that job. The real battle is for who plays alongside Farrell.

Jon Bell had some quality performances when he got a run of starts. He was even able to score the first goal of his career. Sadly that didn’t last and Bell made some major mistakes.

Now Bell’s career is far from over, but he needs more time to develop. The best thing for New England is to have Bell come off the bench in order to do so.

Kessler did a great job in 2020 as a rookie. He showed great poise and immediately looked like someone who would last in MLS. Right now in his career he is better than Bell and deserves to be starting.

At the end of the day, a CB pairing of Farrell and Kessler gives the Revs the best chance to win night in and night out.

Jake: Kessler and Farrell

This is the Revs best center back pair right now. Jon Bell adds a different element for the Revs that can be very helpful because of his athleticism and aerial ability. However his style doesn’t compliment Andrew Farrell, in fact, both Bell and Farrell are similarly aggressive and like to get forward and press and can sometimes make a mess together. Kessler being the more stay at home center back allows Farrell to be aggressive and use his speed to recover.

What Kessler and Farrell need right now is a run of games together to regain their form and chemistry from last year. Kessler coming out of U23 Olympic camp looked significantly better on the ball but I think lost some of that form with Bell starting.

While I think Bell can be helpful as an extra defender late on games, and I wouldn’t mind seeing a Bell-Kessler pairing to give Farrell some rest every now and again, with a backup goalkeeper in net the next few weeks with Matt Turner at the Gold Cup the Revs need to lean on their best CB pairing.

Josh: Kessler and New CB?

Although Kessler has had a limited number of appearances in 2021, Kessler has made the most of the minutes he’s accumulated on the pitch. Coming off an incredible rookie season, I think Kessler has been one of the most consistent center backs on the roster since arriving. If given the opportunity to return to the starting center back position regularly, I think he will emulate his phenomenal performance from 2020 and become a factor in this Revs defense.

As much as it kills me to say, I don’t see guys like Bell, Farrell, or Verfurth being consistent starters at the center back position.

I think it’s just too soon for Bell. I think the young center-backs need some more time to adjust from the jump of USL League One to Major League Soccer. If given some more time to learn and put those teachings into practice, they can become good center-backs in the future.

Here is where the problem begins. With Bell, Farrell, and Verfurth out of the picture, there are no other center backs on the roster. With the MLS transfer window opening on July 7th, I would not be surprised if Bruce Arena and crew look into acquiring a new center back.

Whether it be trading within MLS or acquiring a center-back from outside the league, I am confident Bruce will be able to find someone to join this Revolution squad who can bring some stability to a shaky backline.