The New England Revolution made a major announcement about the current state of their roster on Wednesday. The team will welcome back 18 players for 2016, a number that could be higher depending on negotiations with those currently without a contract. There's a lot to dissect from today's news, so here are some quick thoughts:
1. It's good to see Jose Goncalves and Kelyn Rowe back in the fold. While Jermaine Jones' future has drawn the most attention, there were some concerns about the statuses of Goncalves and Rowe. Goncalves was ambiguous about next season during the team's final media session. Meanwhile, many wondered if Rowe's contract would be up at the end of 2015. Having both veterans return is huge for the team. The partnership between Gonclaves and Andrew Farrell will only get better with time. Similarly, Rowe continues to improve.
2. It's time to go shopping for right backs and defensive midfielders. While much of the Revolution's core will remain intact, there are still glaring needs. MLS veterans Kevin Alston and Jeremy Hall are presumably on the way out (though I could see either returning if they're willing to take a pay cut, especially Hall), which leaves Darrius Barnes and London Woodberry as the best right back options. Both players had solid spells in 2015 but also spent time on the injury list. You have to imagine that the front office will want to bring in some competition at that spot. Likewise, the defensive midfield position needs cover as both Jones and Andy Dorman are out of contract. This a huge hole to fill and the Revs need to get it right. The sooner that these issues, and others, are addressed, the better.
3. Keep an eye on Donnie Smith and Sean Okoli (and maybe Steve Neumann). It was a bit curious to see the Revs pick up the options of both Smith and Okoli, largely because neither has made an impact with the Revolution. Smith didn't make a single regular season appearance in 2015 while Okoli only played 46 minutes over the course of five games. Both players will soon be training with Sporting CP, which could benefit their development ahead of the new season. Will Smith and/or Okoli make an impact in 2016? Only time will tell. I would also advice you to keep tracking Neumann. While the Georgetown product had his option declined, he has drawn praise from head coach Jay Heaps and could return under a new deal.