>Monday Lunch: MLS Team Preview – New England Revolution

Posted: February 28, 2011 in mls
Tags: , , , , , , ,

>By Evan Ream, with help from the Intern

Last Year: 9-16-5, 32 points, 6th in East, 13th overall
Key Losses: Cory Gibbs
Key Additions: Didier Domi, A.J. Soares, Ousmane Dabo
Projected Starting XI: There are a lot of questions concerning the Starting XI for New England this year. New acquisitions Didier Domi and Ousmane Dabo have the European pedigree, but do they have the desire to play in MLS, and on turf in the cold of New England? Tons of these signings have happened before and not turned out too well, but for now one would think that they would be penciled in as starters. Up top, Ilija Stolica had a decent season last year and should be a lock, but the other position is less obvious. Zack Shilawski scored an early season hat trick (though it was against Toronto) before hitting the rookie wall and only ending with five goals. Still, he seems like a more viable option than the inconsistent Kenny Mansally, who should also get time off the bench and a few starts. Marko Perovic started many games at forward last year, but with his skill set, he seems more suited at a midfield spot. Shalrie Joseph and Sainey Nyassi round out the midfield; they are two long tenured Revs who you should pretty much expect the same out of every year (transcendent play from Joseph, and the Findely-esque ability of Nyassi to beat his man and then run over the end line or deliver a terrible cross). Pat Phelan, a starter last year, can shore up the midfield if the Dabo signing doesn’t work out. The back line looks to be much improved with the signing of Domi who replaces a mediocre Chris Tierney (a decent player, but if he was right footed he would never play). Darius Barnes and A.J. Soares should form a solid partnership, but both are still young so we can expect the occasional speed bump. Right back Kevin Alston is one of the best young players in the league but he needs to cut down on his mental mistakes to move ahead of the other good right backs in the league such as Sean Franklin and Heath Pearce. Lastly, Matt Reis will start every game he his healthy; nothing new here.

Ilija Stolica          Zack Schilawski
Marko Perovic          Shalrie Joseph          Ousmane Dabo          Sainey Nyassi
Didier Domi          Darius Barnes          A.J. Soares          Kevin Alston
Matt Reis

Outlook: Besides being extremely boring, this team should be better than last year. Of course I say should completely disregarding this incident. I don’t really know what to make of it. Joseph and Alston are the two best players on this team and they were dismissed from training camp. Without them, this team is terrible; with them, they look decidedly average. I don’t know what Steve Nichol has up his sleeve, but it better be something good. Average. That is the best way to describe this team. Maybe one of the French guys will do something.
The Intern’s Take: Of last year’s four lowest finishing teams, I think that New England will struggle the most to rebound back towards the middle of the standings. Sixth place draft pick A.J. Soares will likely start which makes a statement about New England’s defense. No offense to Soares, but the lack of a more experienced central defender could be a difficult problem for the Revolution to solve this year. Ryan Cochrane is the only possible experienced substitute for this position but at the most will likely share the position with Soares. Despite the promise that Kevin Alston has shown, it took him all of 20 seconds last year to gift the opening goal of the MLS All-Star game to Federico Macheda, and he was dismissed from the preseason training camp along with Revs stalwart Shalrie Joseph. It seems he needs to improve his decision making, both on and off the field. Ousmane Dabo has the potential to form a great central midfield duo with Joseph but he has been without a team for the last seven months so there are definitely some questions about how effective he will be. Unless one of the new signings have an incredible breakout year, New England seem like a team that will likely be somewhere above the lowest spots in the table but not in serious contention for a playoff spot. I hope they prove me wrong, but I do not see this team having a big year.

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