If the season ended today, which players would receive fictional New England Revolution hardware? Using the MLS end-of-season recognition criteria as a template, we made selections for certain applicable awards based on the Revs’ first-half performance:
MVP — Cristian Penilla
(Player deemed the most valuable on the team)
Where would the Revs be without the Pachuca-loanee’s six goals and five assists? His energy and high work-rate fit perfectly in Friedel’s high-pressing system. Operating on the wing, he’s been able to combine with his teammates for scoring opportunities, but he can also create chances on his own. He’s used his speed to draw red cards, and his goals and assists have come at crucial times. He’s been pure gold for New England and deserves all-star consideration.
Golden Boot — Teal Bunbury
(Regular–season leading scorer)
The Ontario native is having a career year with nine goals, already tying his 2011 Sporting Kansas City output — his most productive season as a pro. His five game-winners are tops in the league. Not bad for a guy who could never really seem to gain traction in New England after four years in KC and four USMNT caps. Like Penilla, his energy and work-rate are off the chart, and his defensive work as a center forward helps make Friedel’s style-of-play click.
Newcomer — Cristian Penilla
(Player who has professional experience in another league and has an outstanding season in his first season of play in MLS)
The Ecuadorian played for Liga MX-side Pachuca before being loaned out to New England after the Apertura, or first half, of the Mexican season. It’d be nice to make his stay in Foxborough permanent.
Comeback — Teal Bunbury
(Player who showed impressive improvement after overcoming a serious injury or medical condition or after a previous slump in the career)
The son of a former Canadian National Team forward has seen his number of starts for New England decline each year since his arrival in 2014. His 28 starts in his first year with the Revs were more than halved by 2017 when he made only 13 starts. Already up to 16 first-team appearances this season — he’s started every match — Bunbury has nine goals, which is over half of his entire four-year total with New England (17).
Defender — Jalil Anibaba
(Player who performed the best having played a defensive position)
The eight-year veteran is already with his fifth MLS team, but he may be sticking around New England longer if his play continues to shine. Starting on the bench in week one, the California native came on after an Antonio Delamea red card, then started in the suspended centerback’s place in week two. He hasn’t seen the pine since, making 15 consecutive starts. He brings an infectious enthusiasm to the Revs’ backend, not to mention timely clearances and solid one-on-one defending.
Rookie — Brandon Bye
(Player who performed the best having had no prior professional experience)
The number eight overall selection in last year’s MLS SuperDraft has made eight total appearances and three starts in his rookie campaign, notching an assist. No other Revolution rookie has seen the pitch in league play yet this season. He’s added depth for New England in both the midfield and the back four.
Agree with these awards? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section below!