MLS Preview: Team By Team, New England Revolution Have No Gaping Holes, But Nothing Special

Posted In Features - By Kevin McCauley On Thursday, March 3rd, 2011 With 0 Comments

When you take a look at any MLS team, you’re lucky to see some kind of gaping hole. Not in talent, but an actual lack of players at a certain position. Obviously, every team still has a little bit of time to fill out their roster, but most will still start the season with some kind of hole as a result of Major League Soccer’s roster and salary limits. Somehow, the New England Revolution have accomplished having absolutely no holes, but still having a mediocre roster. The Revs, despite having apparent depth everywhere on the field, are not widely considered to be a playoff team.

Most people reading this probably just thought “striker?” Yes, the Revs need a striker. But they don’t need a body, they need a good striker. They actually have plenty of players that can play the position and most of them are serviceable MLS players. Teams struggle without a great goal-scorer, though, and the Revolution don’t appear to have that. Ilija Stolica is a good target striker and decent finisher. Kheli Dube is a great athlete. Zach Schilawksi is a decent player who is good at everything, but not great at anything. Ryan Kinne might turn out to be the Michael Owen of MLS, but at the moment, he’s an unknown quantity. The Revs are basically hoping that one of these guys gets really good, really fast.

Really, that’s not outside the realm of possibility. The Revs very well could be a playoff team this season. It’s just irresponsible for anyone serious knowledge of the league to say that they are a playoff team. I’ve got a gut feeling that Zach Schilawksi is going to score 10 goals this season and that Ryan Kinne is going to be the steal of the draft. But I don’t know that, and neither does anyone else.

In the middle, the Revs are about as good as anyone. Shalrie Joseph and Ousemane Dabo is a pretty nasty central midfield paring. If the Revs want to go 4-4-2, which seems likely, Marco Perovic will probably play on the left, but if Steve Nicol wants to go away from that, he’s got plenty of options. Perovic sitting at the tip of a midfield three of him, Joseph, and Dabo sounds like an attractive prospect. The only issue is whether or not Stolica or Schilawksi is a complete enough player to be the lone central striker in a setup like that, which probably isn’t the case. Likely rotating with Joseph and Dabo will be Steven McCarthy, a big rookie defensive midfielder who seems pretty one dimensional, but that dimension is a good one if he’s partnered with an athletic player in midfield. Pat Phelan should see some time at defensive midfield as well. Okay, I just talked myself back into this team needing to play three central midfielders.

Perovic is a very skilled player by MLS standards and he gives them some great quality on the left flank - if that’s where he plays - as well as with his dead balls. Whoever plays on the right wing is likely to be the polar opposite of Perovic. If there’s one thing the Serbian lacks, at least by MLS standards, it’s speed. Kenny Mansally and Sainey Nyassi certainly don’t lack that, but they aren’t even in the same paragraph as Perovic for technical ability.

Both players seriously lack passing and crossing ability (lol u c wut I did thar?), but they attempt to make up for it with their insane straight-line speed. It doesn’t really end up in that much production from either player, but hopefully one or both of them does a Dane Richards and suddenly learns how to cross and shoot for no apparent reason.

The Revs defense, once atrocious, has improved considerably in the last 12 months. The once error prone Kevin Alston has developed into an all-star, while the team has added three new players along the back. Franco Coria and Didier Domi will compete for starting spots instantly, while rookie defender AJ Soares has talent coming out of his ears. Domi will likely be the starting left back, which is an upgrade, but kind of unfair on Chris Tierney. The left sided everything man, who is pretty underrated due to the fact that the Revs have been terribly lately, has probably been relegated to super sub duty as the primary backup for both Domi and Perovic. The central defender slots should be a bit of an open competition, and it seems likely that two of the many players they have can be consistent options. Coria and Soares will battle with Ryan Cochrane and Darrius Barnes for those spots. In goal, Matt Reis is solid as a rock when healthy.

I think I just talked myself into the Revs being a decent team. I’m kind of scared. The playoffs seem unlikely if their forwards produce at a level similar to last season, but if they up their game, who knows?

About Kevin McCauley - Kevin McCauley is the Editor in Chief of The Allocation Order. He is also the managing editor at World Soccer Reader and a contributor on multiple levels to SBNation

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