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Arena praises Gil and Petrović during “difficult” season

Arena on Gil and Petrović: “Those two players for us are among the best players, easily, in their positions in the league.”

MLS: New York City FC at New England Revolution Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a tough season for the New England Revolution—head coach Bruce Arena went as far as calling it “crappy”—but the team is still focused on making the playoffs.

The Revs have rarely fielded a full-strength lineup as they’ve transferred players in and out while also dealing with injuries. Tajon Buchanan left before First Kick while Matt Turner, Adam Buksa, and Sebastian Lletget said goodbye in the summer. Jozy Altidore was also loaned out.

Dylan Borrero, Giacomo Vrioni, and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi were brought in to help the attack, but they’ve missed games due to injury. Gustavo Bou has also been absent for two long stretches.

Other players have had to step up to fill the void, including young players like Justin Rennicks, Noel Buck, and Esmir Bajraktarević. Perhaps no players have been more essential than Carles Gil and Djordje Petrović,

“We’ve been without our top attacking players, basically the whole season in different spots, so it’s been difficult,” Arena explained. “And I would say that without Carles Gil, we wouldn’t be where we are today. And then Petrović coming in, those two players for us are among the best players, easily, in their positions in the league. And they’ve carried our team in really rough times, because we’ve been really decimated with injuries.”

Gil leads the league in chances created with 97. He also has six goals and 13 assists. In short, he’s involved in virtually all of the Revs’ attacking plays.

On the opposite end of the field, Petrović owns seven clean sheets in 16 starts. This is even more impressive when you consider that the Serbian has faced nine penalties, three of which he stopped.

Petrović’s most recent shutout came on Sunday when he recorded seven saves in the Revs’ 3-0 win over New York City FC. The Revs got goals from Jon Bell, Noel Buck, and Tommy McNamara to secure three points.

Arena noted that his team “played better in 10 games this year than this one, but we got the three points.” In the end, collecting points is all that matters.

“It’s been such a crappy year with a lot of games and odd results that you get the three points on a night where you’re not at your best, you’ve got to feel good about that,” Arena said.

The Revs ended the weekend in possession of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. If they’re going to hold on to a post-season ticket, they need solid performances from Gil, Petrović, and more. Fortunately for the Revs, players are getting healthy.

“We know it’s going to come right down to the wire, but [making the playoffs is] certainly what our goal is,” Arena said. “If we get our team healthy in October, we’ll be pretty good. We have not been healthy the whole year. We’re slowly getting players back and that will help us.”