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Revolution v. Minnesota: Three thoughts

Gil is legit and two more thoughts.

MLS: FC Cincinnati at New England Revolution Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Revolution got their first win of 2019 on Saturday when they bested Minnesota United 2-1. Here are a few thoughts from the game:

  1. The changes worked. I was certainly skeptical when I saw the Revolution’s starting lineup. Brandon Bye and DeJuan Jones as outside midfielders? Scott Caldwell and Carles Gil alone in the middle of the park? Jalil Anibaba returning to pair with Michael Mancienne? I just wasn’t sure how this team would operate. Soon after the opening whistle, it became clear that Brad Friedel wanted to press aggressively, so he went with his most active bunch. Bye and Jones are raw but they will run for 90 minutes, Caldwell and Gil are small but they are relentless in covering ground, and no one will ever question Anibaba’s passion. The game plan worked as Minnesota never seemed settled. Also, the Revs scored two goals via their hustle. Finally, Cody Cropper had himself a game, but I wasn’t too worried about him.
  2. The Revolution’s problems aren’t solved. The Revs were in desperate need of three points after only collecting one in their first four outings. That said, the win shouldn’t cover-up the team’s shortcomings. For one, they still haven’t gotten a shot on goal from any of their strikers (hat tip to Sean Donahue). Juan Agudelo and Teal Bunbury were active against Minnesota and put themselves in good spots, but their shooting has to be better if this team is going to be anything more than a cellar dweller. Meanwhile, Juan Fernando Caicedo has shown little in his limited minutes. Defensively, the Revs are still susceptible to the counter, as made evident by the play that unfolded in the 11th minute, just moments after the Revs’ first goal. Donahue captured the footage (seriously, follow him).

3. Gil is legit. The Revs DP finished the night with 112 touches, 83 passes (88% accuracy), six key passes, four accurate crosses, and an assist. He was the Revolution’s most important player as he put in work on both sides of the ball. At times it seemed like the Revolution’s plan was to get Gil the ball so he could work his magic. One discernible difference in Saturday’s game was that Gil played further back. With a wider view of the field, Gil was able to cause problems by finding open space. It’s something I hope we see more of in the future.