February serves as a make-or-break month in Major League Soccer. This year proved no different for the Revolution, who entered the preseason with a roster of veterans, newcomers and trialists all seeking to make an impact.
Who stood out, and who didn't, during the 2017 preseason? We break down the winners and losers from Revolution preseason camp.
Kamara started the preseason on a tear, scoring in three consecutive matches while showing improved chemistry with his attacking teammates. His preseason form bodes well for the Revolution, as Kamara struggled to find a rhythm until the final weeks of the 2016 season, when he scored in three of the Revs’ final five matches.
In his last preseason outing, Kamara turned in a memorable performance despite missing a point-blank finish vs. RBNY II. He made dangerous runs, picked good spots and, most importantly, looked in-sync with fellow attacker Lee Nguyen. Assuming Kamara carries this form into the regular season, he could double his goal output (seven) from 2016.
A stellar preseason ended with more of the same for Cropper, who made several game-changing saves during a 90-minute shift vs. RBNY II. He commanded his box, stood strong one-on-one and made intelligent decisions when they mattered most.
Though Brad Knighton may push him for regular-season starts, Cropper separated himself as the top goalkeeper on the Revolution roster. He has earned the number one shirt moving forward.
It only seemed like a matter of time before Smith, a 2013 second-round SuperDraft pick, caught on in New England. That time may have arrived, as Smith just capped his strongest preseason to date with an impressive showing vs. RBNY II. The Charlotte product used his pace to lock down the left side of the field and offered accurate service in the run of play and off set pieces.
After only making four starts in his first four MLS seasons, Smith seems poised for his most productive MLS season yet.
Throughout his first preseason with the Revolution, Smith stood out from a crowded group of young trialists. The 2017 fourth-round SuperDraft pick solidified himself as a threat on set pieces—his 6-foot-4 frame makes him an obvious target—and played with confidence in the center of the Revolution defense.
With six open roster spots, the Revs should not hesitate to extend a contract to the 24-year-old defender. But if nothing else, Smith can say he was the last trialist standing in Foxboro.
With Xavier Kouassi still working toward match fitness, Herivaux seemed destined to make his first regular-season start for the Revolution. But in the Revs’ Desert Diamond Cup opener, Herivaux suffered knee and ankle injuries after enduring a challenge from Dynamo midfielder Juan David Cabezas.
Still undergoing treatment, Herivaux will likely need several weeks to return to full health. By the time the homegrown midfielder recovers, Kouassi will likely have recovered himself, meaning starts may not come freely for Herivaux.
Something had to give with the Revolution’s goalkeeping corps, as the club entered the preseason with a promising backup (Matt Turner) and three potential starters (Cropper, Shuttleworth and Brad Knighton). Moving Shuttleworth ultimately made the most sense based on his trade value; the veteran has 130 MLS starts to his name (including one in an MLS Cup Final) and has yet to celebrate his 30th birthday.
Unfortunately for Bobby, the move to Minnesota only muddles his chances to re-emerge as a starter. The Loons now employ four keepers, including John Alvbage, a mainstay in the top divisions of Danish and Swedish soccer, and Alec Farrell, a 22-year-old selected 23rd overall in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft.
Projected by many to make the Revolution roster, Bowen looked sharp in each of his preseason appearances. He played fast with the ball at his feet and quickly built chemistry with his fellow attackers.
But in the middle of preseason camp, the Revs re-acquired forward Femi Hollinger-Janzen, who showed tantalizing potential (two goals, one assist) in limited minutes last season. The move made Bowen expendable in spite of his strong preseason showing, and the Revs decided to cut ties last Thursday.
Matsoso seemed like a lock to make the Revolution roster based on his potential and ability to play in a box-to-box role, where the Revs need added depth. Yet throughout his short tenure with the Revolution, Matsoso struggled to separate himself from his fellow trialists; the tenacity he showed at Kentucky didn’t translate to MLS play, at least not in his limited preseason minutes. The 2017 second-round pick ultimately fizzed out without much fanfare.
*Signifies and an unsigned, preseason trialist
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