Once A Metro: How would you grade the initial phase of the Revs’ Brad Friedel era - and why?
Jake Catanese: If we’re assigning a letter grade, I think Friedel the coach deserves somewhere in the B range. I think there have been a lot of early positives from the Revs with Friedel’s new high press and counter system. Diego Fagundez has been fairly effective in the middle of the field, Teal Bunbury is enjoying a renaissance as a striker after several years as a wide player and newcomer Cristian Penilla is already one of the best international signings for the Revs this decade. Yes, I’m aware that’s a pretty short list of successful and/or good international signings but I digress.
The problem with the Brad Friedel era is, as always, above the head coach. The Revs are still largely the same team they have been the past few years - competitive, able to punch above their total salary, and on their best days a legitimate playoff threat. What New England lacked under Heaps the last couple of seasons was consistency and that’s still a current issue for Friedel as well. New England has been dominant in a few wins and then completely dreadful in others, including a 4-0 win against a 10-man Montreal Impact team followed by a 4-2 drubbing in Montreal in the span of like a month. The only thing consistent about the Revs, is their inconsistency, which makes them fun and a heart attack at the same time.
OaM: Jesse Marsch has suggested the way Friedel wants his team to play makes the Revolution the “mirror image” of RBNY. Would you agree with that assessment?
JC: Yes and no. Yes, in that I have often described the “mirror match” for New England as facing a team like Columbus or even RBNY. I love the 4-2-3-1 because it can offer a really balanced style of play in both possession and counter attacking and it’s this mirror that usually leads to lower scoring games that the Revs and Bulls tend to play. Since both teams like to press and create opportunities from turnovers, especially so for the Revs, it often leads to two teams who are timid on the ball in possession and unable to break down a packed in defense.
Where I disagree with Marsch is in the fundamentals in what each team does, or at least what I remember RBNY doing in years past. The Revs are really direct once they get the ball, almost too direct at times because they also tend to turn the ball over as soon as they get it. Where I admire RBNY is the number of different ways they can beat you and guys like Kljestan and Kaku in the middle being able to find BWP, Grella, Valot, etc., making a variety of runs. Yes, the press likes to invite turnovers but in years past RBNY could break you down in the final third in a number of different ways. New England hasn’t show the ability to do that so far under Friedel and even if NY is playing a bit more direct this year, I’m still more confident in their ability to score via possession than I am the Revs. Also the RBNY backline is not a dumpster fire in the second half like New England’s usually is...
I praised Gregg Berhalter and the Crew a couple of weeks ago for being able to take the Revs out of their style but still being able to generate offense by playing more Route 1 soccer. That set up a game plan that Vancouver and Atlanta both used in recent draws against Atlanta, which is to kind of dump and chase to the corners behind the Revs really, really high fullbacks. Since Jesse Marsch isn’t a dummy, I expect him to have picked up on this and we’ll see if Friedel and the Revs have made some adjustments.
OaM: Who are the new faces in this year’s Revs squad that Red Bulls fans should be looking out for in this game?
JC: Cristian Penilla has been filthy good and a mainstay as a left winger since coming in on loan. The Revs have always had a ton of attacking options but Penilla’s speed is just such a difference maker for the Revs countering style. Wilfried Zahibo is a solid holding mid player but he’s not Jermaine Jones circa 2014.
Also Matt Turner is a god and I am looking forward to some Metro Atlantic on Metro Atlantic crime between him and Florian Valot because I love my old conference and will be very upset if a Rider Bronc alum scores in Gillette today.
4-2-3-1: Turner; Somi, Dielna, Delamea, Farrell; Zahibo, Caldwell; Penilla, Fagundez, Rowe; Bunbury
A few changes from midweek, but nothing earth shattering. Kelyn Rowe needs to start more games because the Revs need his ability to connect passes when they aren’t countering. I have no idea what the Revs best centerback pairing is or if it even exists but Somi was horrid up in Vancouver and with the season ending injury to Chris Tierney, the Revs are short handed at left back and need him to step up.
This game will be fun and chaotic and maybe not in a good way. I think it will be a similar pattern to what we’ve seen from the Revs in recent weeks, they’ll start strong and struggle to close out the game, giving RBNY a lot of chances to get at least a point.
Revolution 2, Energy Drinks 2