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Revolution v. Whitecaps: Three thoughts

Jon Bell put in a solid shift and two more thoughts.

New England Revolution v Vancouver Whitecaps FC Photo by Christopher Morris - Corbis/Getty Images

The New England Revolution played the Vancouver Whitecaps to a scoreless draw on Sunday. Here are three thoughts from the game:

1. It was a good performance from Jon Bell. Bell made his third consecutive start, pairing with Andrew Farrell at center back. The 24-year-old had 108 touches, was 88/96 (92%) on accurate passes, completed seven clearances, managed four recoveries, and was 5/7 on aerial duels.

It hasn’t been the smoothest season for Bell, but he’s been solid defensively as of late. Consider this, the Revs allowed two goals with him on the field in the last three games. This is pretty good when you consider the Revolution have conceded an average of 1.5 goals per game this year.

I do think that Henry Kessler will be the starter when he’s healthy, which should be this week, but Bell has put in a few solid shifts. For me, his athleticism and jumping ability make him third on the center back depth chart.

While we’re talking defense, I want to give a quick shoutout to Djordje Petrovic. I won’t say too much more because my colleague Sam Minton wrote an article about him, but I will say it’s time to get on board the petrovoz (shoutout @BenSaufley.)

2. I’m not sold that Gustavo Bou can be the lone striker for this team. Bou has been very good since returning from a leg injury as he’s collected three goals and one assist in his five starts. He’s done this while primarily operating alone up top. That said, I don’t know if it’s a long-term solution.

The issue is that Bou isn’t a typical No. 9. Instead of winning aerial duels in central positions, Bou often drops in or floats into wide areas. His crafty movement can—and has—worked, but we saw its shortcomings on Sunday.

There were times when the Revs needed a big target in the box, like when they sent in any of their 18 crosses. This is why I predict the Revs will sign a No. 9 during the summer transfer window.

If they don’t, the Revs will have to shift how they play. They’ll need Carles Gil, Dylan Borerro, and whoever plays on the other flank to work off of Bou. They’ll need fewer aerial crosses and more ground crosses from DeJuan Jones and Brandon Bye.

3. It’s all about the second half of the season. The beginning of the year was tough for the Revs, who exited early from the Concacaf Champions League and struggled during league play.

I remember being asked a few times if fans should be panicking about the Revolution. My answer was no because the team was always going to look different during the second half of the season.

We knew Matt Turner was leaving and we were fairly certain that Adam Buksa would depart. Of course, Tajon Buchanan said goodbye before the season started. Those are three big pieces for the Revolution. As such, it was always going to come down to who the Revs brought in to bolster the team.

So far, Petrovic has looked very good, as has Dylan Borrero. The summer window opens on Jul. 7 and it sounds like the Revs will do something. They may even sign a goalscorer.

If they get the summer transfer window right—and that’s certainly a big if—then the Revs can make a run at the elusive MLS Cup. Will it happen? That’s tough to say, but I think we’re seeing that the second half of the season is more important than the first.