The Bielsa Report is named for manager Marcelo Bielsa, and the comprehensive if legally suspect research he conducts on opposing teams.
1. Adam Buksa scores lots of goals
The New England Revolution striker is off to a blistering start to the year, with seven goals in 10 MLS league games, good enough for second place in the Golden Boot race — not only is he tied with Taty Castellanos, the two have similar stats. More germane, Buksa has two goals in his single US Open Cup appearance, when New England defeated Cincinnati FC 5-1 at Gillette Stadium.
2. Lots of New England players score one or two goals
Nobody else on New England’s squad comes close to Buksa’s production, although playmaker Carles Gil has three goals in 12 games. Still, eleven players have found the back of the net: Pretty much every outfield player other than center-backs Andrew Farrell and Omar Gonzalez can score. The team has 21 goals in MLS league games, good for third-best in the Eastern Conference.
3. New England give up lots of goals
The Revs also allowed 22 goals, which makes them third-worst in the Eastern Conference. That is partially explained by the early-season absence of goalkeeper Matt Turner, but he’s been shipping goals as well: He was between the sticks last Saturday when FC Cincinnati scored twice. New England got the win in that game behind an 89th-minute wonder strike from Tommy McNamara, but it papered over a leaky defense that gave up nine goals in the last five league games. Turner started in four of those games, and gave up six goals.
4. New England are taking the tournament seriously
The Revs fielded a strong squad in their Round of 32 match against FC Cincinnati: Buksa had his two goals, Gil scored a hat trick, McNamara got the start, and Farrell was in defense. Fullbacks Brandon Bye and DeJaun Jones also started.
Will head coach Bruce Arena field a near-best Starting XI against New York City FC tomorrow? The garage rooftop that is Belson Stadium is an unforgiving surface, so they might not risk straining players they’ll need when they face a tough Philadelphia Union on Saturday. But they might like their chances in the cup this year. Keep in mind that New England have only won two major trophies despite being one of the founding clubs of MLS – they lifted the US Open Cup in 2007 and the Supporters’ Shield last year – and Arena might be gunning for silverware.
5. Goalkeeping dilemma
Last year, New England was settled in goal: Matt Turner started 28 games, allowed 35 goals, and the team posted the best record in the history of MLS. This year couldn’t be more different. The team has four goalkeepers on their senior roster, and Arena has divided the season between them to uneven results. It’s unclear who he will play at Belson Stadium tomorrow.
• Will it be Matt Turner? He’s the team’s number-one keeper, so you’d expect him to sit out a game like this one — but he’s set to join Arsenal in June, which makes this one of the two final matches he can play for New England, and Arena might want to squeeze every last goalkeeping drop out of him. Turner made four starts this year, and gave up six goals. Still, the Revs had two wins and two draws in those games.
• Will it be Djordje Petrovic? The 22-year-old Serbian international was signed in April to be Turner’s heir, and started in New England’s 5-1 win over Cincinnati in the USOC, but that’s his only Senior Team game so far.
• Will it be 37-year-old veteran Brad Knighton? He has yet to log a clean sheet — Knighton started four league games this year and allowed eight goals.
• Will it be Earl Edwards Jr.? The 30-year-old was between the sticks at the start of the year, when the stumbling Revs won one MLS game and crashed out of the CONCACAF Champions League — like Knighton, he started four league games this year and allowed eight goals.
Real talk: None of New England’s keepers are crowning themselves in glory right now. Taty Castellanos, Talles Magno, Thiago, and the rest of the NYCFC attack have to like their chances tomorrow in Queens.