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Three Questions: New York City vs. New England

Our friends at the Bent Musket help address certain talking points ahead of NYCFC and the Revolution’s midweek clash

Philadelphia Union v New England Revolution Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Having won two consecutive games, New York City FC is set to make their first real road trip in Phase 1 as they head to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts to take on the New England Revolution in hopes to make it three wins on the trot. Being a midweek game is the thick of a highly congested Phase 1 schedule, some squad rotation has been hinted at. But if manager Ronny Deila has finally established a system that caters to the players on the field, NYCFC has enough depth to possibly match their first-string counterparts.

We sat down with Jake Catanese of the Bent Musket — the Rev’s SB Nation community — to get the lay of the land and a taste of what to expect during City’s trip up north.

Christian Smith: New England has had a modest start to their season with 11 points through 8 games. Though they’ve only lost once, the Revs have also only won two games while having a whopping five draws. What’s the feeling among New England Supporters with how the season has gone and where they’ll go from here?

Jake Catanese: There’s been a lot going on in 2020, and I feel like the Revs could be one of the more affected teams by this strange season. For the first time in their history, New England was going to be putting out a lineup that featured three Designated Players in Gustavo Bou, Carles Gil, and Adam Buksa which on paper seems like a damn solid trio to build on 2019’s playoff appearance.

However Gil battled an Achillies’ injury for much of preseason and aggravated the injury enough during MLS is Back to opt for surgery. Add in the loss of Luis Caicedo in the midfield and the Revs have had to make a lot more adjustments to the starting lineup than I think Bruce Arena wanted. The Revs don’t lack firepower in attack, but Gil as a playmaker opens up a lot of space and New England has struggled to get big chances inside the box so far this year even when Gil was the primary creator.

However, Matt Polster looks like an absolute steal of a signing coming back to MLS from Scotland and has definitely solidified the midfield behind the attackers. Kekuta Manneh and the legend himself Tommy McNamara are both excellent veteran additions that Arena tends to lean on. It’s a deep Revs team but I think they’ll be spending a lot of time tinkering and figuring out how to attack without Gil so when Carles does come back, most likely in 2021, I’d expect New England to be ready to make a big run at the Eastern Conference.

CS: Despite an awful start to their season, NYCFC has won two consecutive games and are slowly moving up the table. Do you feel the Revs are equipped to cool down a hot City team that is growing in confidence?

JC: If there’s one thing New England has done well this year, it’s been in defense. Henry Kessler out of Virginia has been stellar in his rookie season and should be right there with college teammate Daryl Dike for MLS Rookie of the Year honors at the end of the season. Also, Matt Turner is really, really good at soccer and a lot of the draws the Revs have this year is thanks to him. Without the offense firing on all cylinders, Turner and the defense have more than picked up the slack. If and when the Revs figure out the goal scoring issue, they’ll be a tough out in the playoffs if they keep up their defensive form.

CS: How do you think this game will go? What is your score prediction and what will be the biggest contribution to the result?

JC: This feels like a trap game for New England, it’s midweek, Bruce Arena has hinted at some squad rotation which is a necessary thing this year but more so because I don’t think Arena has been using his subs all that well. The Revs have the depth and utility to be able to really change the game in the second half either with fresh legs or a brand new formation but too often I think Arena makes his subs and adjustments too late for them to really affect the game.

However, despite all that, I refuse to call this a “must win” game but in the standings it’s really important for New England to get a win. It would put the Revs 5 points ahead of NYC in the standings and would be a nice way to break out of their current “slump,” which is an odd thing to call a 7-game unbeaten streak in MLS play (there was the Revs knockout loss to Philly in the MLS is Back Round of 16 in there as well). Overall, I think a fairly tame 1-1 draw similar to the Revs last game against RBNY is what we’ll see.