Earlier today I gave you three reasons why 2018 might be a good year for the New England Revolution, but as true fans you’re trained to expect the worst. With this in mind, here are three reasons to be pessimistic about the Revolution.
1. The Lee Nguyen Saga. There hasn’t been a lot of updates about Nguyen since he refused to report to the first day of preseason. Nguyen did eventually link up with his teammates but he didn’t feature in any preseason games. Head coach Brad Friedel said the midfielder needed to catch up in terms of fitness. From there, he would need to earn his spot.
Last year Nguyen bagged 11 goals and 15 assists, showing that he still has a lot to offer. The 31-year-old has been the Revolution’s most consistent threat since joining the team in 2012. Given how productive he’s been for the Revs, the club should’ve done the right thing and traded him when he made his request in the off-season. Now, the Revolution are in an awkward place with one of their franchise players.
2. Not enough roster turnover. The Revs made some key acquisitions in the off-season with Cristian Penilla proving to be the pick of the lot. That said, there’s reason to believe that the club didn’t do enough.
For one, there’s still some uncertainty surrounding the defensive midfield position. Scott Caldwell is as solid as can be but he needs help. Caldwell is likely to be paired with Wilfred Zahibo, who created a lot of concern when he was ejected just 10 minutes into his debut. He has been better since then but there have still been some shaky moments. For example, he had a poor back pass against the Houston Dynamo that almost resulted in an early goal. Zahibo could prove to be a solid pickup but the jury is still out.
The team also didn’t do a lot to address their defensive woes. The Revs allowed 61 goals last year, which was the worst mark in the Eastern Conference. Despite this, it’s likely that Gabriel Somi will be the only change along the back line. Sure, things could improve with Claude Dielna and Antonio Delamea having a full season together, but I’m not sure what to think of the Revs’ defensive prospects in 2018, especially since Cody Cropper conceded penalties in back-to-back games.
3. The Revs’ competition got better. The Eastern Conference was stacked last year and it could be even better in 2018.
The top of the Eastern Conference will likely feature the names you’d expect. Despite being relatively quiet during the off-season, Toronto FC are favorites to win the East for a second consecutive year. They’ll face some heavy competition in the form of Atlanta United FC, who stole headlines when they signed Ezequiel Barco for a reported $15 million dollars. The club also added Darlington Nagbe to a roster that already included some of the league’s best attackers.
Last year’s cellar dwellers also made some big moves. Orlando SC revamped their roster by adding Sacha Kljestan, Justin Meram, and Oriol Rossell. They also brought in highly-touted midfielder Joshue Colman. D.C. United added Junior Moreno, Yasmil Asad, and Darren Mattocks, as they look to make their first season with a soccer-specific stadium a memorable one.
It’s hard to know how these off-season changes will play out but it certainly looks like the East will be very competitive.