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Manneh and McNamara give Bruce Arena options

Arena, Manneh, and McNamara talk about what the midfield could look like.

MLS: New England Revolution at Toronto FC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s going to be hard to replace Carles Gil, but New England Revolution head coach Bruce Arena has a couple of new options.

On Monday, the Revs acquired Kekuta Manneh and Tommy McNamara in separate trades. Although both primarily play as midfielders, they operate differently.

“Kekuta can play in the wide positions in the midfield,” Arena told media on Tuesday. “I think he can also play as a second striker. He’s got good speed. He gives us depth in those positions.”

Manneh, who said he’s “more comfortable playing on the left side of the field,” is the speedy, direct option. Playing wide, the Gambian can challenge defenders 1v1 before making his move towards the goal. Arena has often relied on this type of winger when Gil is out.

If the team continues to function in this way, Manneh’s chief competition will come in the form of Tajon Bunchan and Teal Bunbury. If Manneh gets the nod, it’s likely he’ll start on the left with Cristian Penilla on the right.

Like Manneh, McNamara can play a few different positions. Arena touted that the 29-year-old is a “real smart player, technically very good.” He can play as a center midfielder or on the wing.

If he plays the wing, he’s likely to play similar to Gil. McNamara explained, “I do have the ability to play wide, if it’s in a role where I’m allowed to come inside and play more in the inside of the field.”

This, of course, sounds like Gil, who often moves centrally despite being listed as the right midfielder. If McNamara starts out wide, expect him to play narrow so he can combine with Kelyn Rowe or Gustavo Bou. This will encourage Brandon Bye to get forward to offer service.

We’ll have to wait to see if either acquisition cracks the starting lineup because Manneh and McNamara must quarantine for 10 days in accordance to league protocols. Arena did state that he’s “hopeful that the league will review this policy and perhaps reduce the quarantine time.”

Until then, Buchanan, Bunbury, and Diego Fagundez are the likely candidates to fill in for Gil because they’ve done so in the past.