Among the heavily rotated starting XI on Wednesday night, the New England Revolution got to show off their youth on the back line.
After Andrew Farrell had played every minute for New England prior to Wednesday, Bruce Arena decided it was time to give him a break. This allowed Revolution fans to get their first look at a Henry Kessler and Jon Bell center back pairing.
Bell and Kessler both played 90 minutes and both played rather well. Bell and Kessler were even able to combine on the Revs first goal of the game as Arnor Traustason provided great service off of a free kick and Bell was able to connect with Kessler who would slot it home for his first goal of the season.
Besides the goal, Kessler had six clearances including one off of the goal line and two interceptions. Bell also won seven duels and four headed clearances.
Head coach and sporting director Bruce Arena thought that the young duo played alright in their first 90 minutes as a back line duo.
“There’s some work we have to do there,” Arena said. “That’s a pairing we would’ve liked to have had on the field at some point this year and we never managed to do that. The big thing is we had to get Jon Bell back on the field. He hasn’t played with our team for a while, so we got him through tonight, which is good because I think as we close out the season and the playoffs, we have to have another center back ready to go. So that was a real plus for us.”
With Farrell racking up the minutes this season, it’s good that New England is able to give him a break. Hopefully, they will be able to ensure that the veteran center back is fresh and ready for a long playoff run by the end of the regular season.
While the pairing did allow two goals, Kessler and Bell didn’t look out of place on the pitch. They definitely seem worthy of another opportunity to play 90 minutes together before the regular season concludes.
After the match, Kessler thought that he and Bell had a solid performance.
[Jon Bell] is a really physical player and I think both of us can contribute,” Kessler said. “And he’s a left-footed guy, so I switched over to the right side and I feel like we didn’t really miss a beat. So, I thought it was good. He had a couple of nice plays, there was one of the first where he held a good line and [Robert] Beric went offside. Some good clearances as well. So, I thought it was pretty good. Obviously, giving up two goals, we have to look back on that and I feel like they had a couple other chances. I think we need to get our clearances right, that’s just everyone in general and not just us. So, there will be some things that we can look at, but overall, not bad.”
So the future of the Revolution back line is quite bright with the performances of Jon Bell and Henry Kessler so far this season.