The New England Revolution collected their first road win of 2022 when they defeated FC Cincinnati 3-2 on Saturday night. Here are three thoughts from the game:
1. The Revs scored three beautiful goals
A team will never complain when they score a goal, but some are certainly prettier than others. On Saturday, the Revs had three beauties that stemmed from on-point passing.
DeJuan Jones hit the post moments before the Revs’ first goal. A failed clearance by a Cincinnati defender led to the ball falling to Brandon Bye, who offered a cross that Sebastian Lletget put into the net via an unreal scissor kick.
The goal was really nice, but I love that the Revs collected twelve passes before Jones unleashed his shot. This sequence started with Bye’s throw-in in the Revs’ defensive half.
The second goal began with an interception from Jones. The midfielders then moved the ball before Carles Gil found Bye in an advanced position on the right. Bye took on his defender and then hit a low cross for Adam Buksa. The Polish striker scored with his own absurd finish.
The final goal started with an attacking throw-in. The Revolution midfielders completed a few passes before Maciel played a perfect ball to Bye. The defender laid the ball off to Tommy McNamara, who finally got a goal after hitting the post twice in recent games.
What do these goals have in common? First, they all involve the outside backs. Bye had three assists on the night and Jones was inches away from having a goal. The outside backs are so important to how the Revs play.
Another commonality is that the central midfielders kept the ball moving. It was all about “pass and move” as the team looked to find an opening. Lletget’s movement right before Jones’ shot is a good example because he’s constantly moving to try to create space. The chemistry is building, which is positive. Of course, it helps that Gil and Maciel are capable of hitting killer balls.
Finally, the finishes were all world world-classclass. Hats off to Buksa, Lleget, and McNamara.
2. I love the boldness of Bye
Bye had three assists in one night, which matches the season-long output he had in 2021. Bye was asked if anything is different about how he plays this year and the right back was modest, saying, “No, just trusting the process and keep moving forward.” He then complimented all three goal scorers.
One thing I’ve noticed is that Bye has recently been taking players on more often. In the past, he’s opted for an early cross after being played into space. Recently, he has received the ball before running at his opponent.
Of course, he’s done this before during his five-year stay at the Revolution, but there’s been an uptick in recent games. This tool makes him an even more dangerous player.
3. There are still things to sort out
The Revolution have collected their first road win of 2022 and are 3-1-2 in their last six league outings. It’s a positive stretch for a team that struggled so much at the start of the year.
But there are still questions.
One question is, how can the Revs limit goals? The team has conceded 22 goals through twelve games. Last year they allowed 40 goals in 34 games. Some of this has to do with individual defending and marking and some of it has to do with how the team is organized.
Another question is, how do the Revs get their best players on the field? The return of Gustavo Bou and the arrival of Dylan Borrero give head coach Bruce Arena something to think about. Are both of those players starters? If so, how do you line up the team?
The Revs could keep the 4-2-3-1 with Bou and Borrero roaming the wide areas. This would be natural for Borrero, but not so much for Bou. It also puts Lleget in a tough spot. Does he take Borrero’s spot, slide in as a defensive midfielder, or move to the bench?
The Revs could go with a 4-2-2. This allows Buksa and Bou to play together up top, but what roles do Borrero and Lletget play in this formation?
The 3-5-2 presents the same questions about Borrero and Lletget. Another issue is that you have to find another center back. Would that be Omar Gonzalez or Jon Bell?
The wide diamond gets Lletget, Gil, Borrero, Bou, and Buksa on the field, but we know this formation has flaws. This was best seen in last year’s playoff game against New York City FC.
Of course, things become more complicated when you consider that Matt Turner is leaving this summer and Buksa could do the same. If Buksa leaves, do the Revs just use Bou as a center forward? He could do it, but it’s not exactly his best position. Jozy Altidore is an option, but he’s currently out with an injury. Does the replacement come from the outside?
The good thing about MLS is that Arena has time to figure this out. As long as the team makes the playoffs and plays their best soccer at the end of the year, they have a chance to win a trophy. Of course, this is easier said than done.