The New England Revolution is a force to be reckoned with in 2014, there are no ifs, ands or butts about it.
As the team continues to stock pile players during the 2014 offseason, fans cannot help but get excited for the upcoming season. Coach Jay Heaps continues to make smart move after smart move, not only with who the team drafted, but also has signed in preseason. New England showed terrific signs of improvement during the 2014 preseason, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The Revolution enter into the 2014 season full of young and talented players, including 2013 breakout star Diego Fagundez. MLS teams are well aware of the potential that Fagundez possess and will be keeping an extra close on him, knowing the majority of New England’s attack will flow through him.
Having a whole host of choices to pick from can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Coach Heaps currently has five forwards that are really scattered in terms of level of talent. Considering that only about two of them can be consistent threats, it does raise some questions on just how good the Revolution forwards truly are. Teal Bunbury and Patrick Mullins will be called upon to carry the majority of the weight from the forward positions, while Fagundez, although a midfielder, will occupy the third forward position. Fagundez scored 13 goals in 2013 and will be looking for many more to follow in 2014. As long as Bunbury and Mullins stay healthy, the Revolution should have solid amounts of production from the forward position all season long.
If there is one position the Revolution have a surplus of, it is midfielders. Led by dynamic duo of Lee Nguyen and Kelyn Rowe, the Revolution midfield can be a dangerous place to navigate if you are an opposing player. New England made several smart plays this offseason by drafting Steve Neumann and Alec Sundly to increase their depth. The team also went out and made a deal for former Vancouver Whitecaps player Daigo Kobayashi. Along with those players, the Revs also have young and talented players like Scott Caldwell, Stephan McCarthy, Donnie Smith and Chris Tierney. It is hard to figure out exactly where Fagundez fits into the offense. Technically, he is listed as a midfielder, but last season, he was seen more as a winger/forward. Regardless of where he lines up, he will help the offense as a whole, flourish and succeed to the best of their abilities.
Perhaps the position on the field that the Revs could use a little more help with would be the defense. Currently, the team does possess solid players who can play 90+ minutes and help keep the ball out of the back of the net. The squad is led by the 2013 MLS Defender of the Year Jose Goncalves and the 2013 Come Back Player of The Year Kevin Alston. Last season, Andrew Farrell showed just how dangerous he could be and has officially earned himself a starting spot on the Revolution back line. Rounding out the defense is Darius Barnes, who has seen limited playing time in recent seasons since the Revs brought in Farrell.
Bobby Shuttleworth and Brad Knighton are the two prospects battling it out for the starting goal keeper post. See what I did there? Anyway, both players are seasoned veterans that know what it takes to be successful in an offensive heavy league. Shuttleworth will more than likely win out on this battle, but having the reassurance of Knighton as a backup is a place many MLS teams would love to be in.
Overall, the Revolution is a team that you will want to watch each and every week during the 2014 MLS season. The pieces are starting to come together for a MLS CUP title run, so Eastern Conference teams had better take notice. Like I had stated when I predicted each MLS teams’ final record in 2014, the Revolution should finish with a 17-8-9 record.