3 Thoughts After New England Revolution's Final Preseason Game of 2023
The regular season is around the corner
New England Revolution fans finally got to watch the 2023 squad play as Apple TV broadcast the preseason friendly between the Revs and Orlando City SC on MLS Season Pass.
While to be taken with a grain of salt, New England trotted out a starting XI made up of a majority of starters. Interstingly, youngster Jack Panayotou got the start as well as Damian Rivera. Dave Romney and Henry Kessler were the center back pairings with DeJuan Jones and Brandon Bye as outside backs.
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So what do you need to know about the Revs final preseason match of 2023, here are three thoughts.
1 - The Revs Are Banged Up (And Without a DP)
Before the match even began, Revolution fans received some bad news as Prost Soccer’s Caleb Pongratz reported that Nacho Gil had traveled home prior to the match due to an injury.
Injuries are never welcome news and that is especially the case at the beginning of the season. It can increase the time that it takes for a player to get in their rhythm and hurt their production.
The preseason hasn’t treated the Revs kindly with the likes of Matthew Polster, Andrew Farrell, Henry Kessler, and DeJuan Jones suffering from various knocks and injuries.
Just prior to kickoff, fans got even more bad news as Jozy Altidore, Latif Blessing, Tommy McNamara, and Farrell all were unavailable due to knocks.
After a 2022 season that was ravaged by injuries, this is not the news that Revolution fans wanted to hear. Since it is just preseason, New England could just be practicing caution but the fact that these players had to be held out is concerning.
The news is even more important as New England is still without Gustavo Bou. According to Andrew Wiebe of MLSsoccer.com, Bou will not be returning to New England until next week after waiting to receive his Green Card. Our own Seth Macomber confirmed Wiebe’s report saying that he also heard that Bou will return to New England next week.
A lot of pressure will be on Giacomo Vrioni to perform. The Designated Player struggled to get acclimated to MLS due to injuries and arriving in the middle of the season. In 2023, there will be no excuses, he needs to start performing to that DP designation.
2 - The Revs Back Line is Stuck in 2022
While New England made some improvements to the back line (Dave Romney) the unit still struggled against Orlando.
The first Orlando City goal was the result of poor positioning which was a problem for the Revolution throughout 2022. It was a complete breakdown and not what you wanted to see a week before the regular season started.
New England can’t use the excuse that it wasn’t their first-choice back line. Romney and Kessler could easily be the starters even though Farrell missed out due to a knock.
This isn’t just a one-game occurrence either. Against Cincinnati, the Revs gave up multiple goals due to mistakes from playing out of the back.
It seems quite likely that a back five is out of the question as Arena has favored a four-man unit. If the Revolution are going to have their center backs press as high as they did on Saturday night and throughout 2022, they will need to do a much better job.
3 - 2023 is the Year of Giacomo Vrioni
Giacomo Vrioni showed exactly why Revolution fans should be excited headed into the 2023 season. Vrioni came in at halftime and would make a major impact.
In the 70th minute, trialist Ema Boateng sent a cross into the box and Vrioni lifted into the air and headed the ball home to even the score at 1-1. It is exactly the type of play New England will need Vrioni to make week in and week out.
But Vrioni wasn’t done yet. In the 81st minute, he made a darting run toward goal and secured the lead for New England. It might have been an own goal but Vrioni made the correct run and was in the right place at the right time.
As stated above, Vrioni will play a key role this season. With all the work he has put in during the offseason and preseason, I think it will pay off.
Revolution fans saw that it took some time for Adam Buksa to adjust to MLS but once he did, he couldn’t be stopped. It’s unknown if Vrioni is at that level yet but surely he should be finding the back of the net frequently in 2023.
So now all eyes move towards the 25th when New England heads to North Carolina to face Charlotte FC in what will be a packed Bank of America Stadium. Revolution fans have made it through the dark and dreary offseason. The 2023 regular season has arrived.
Come on Bruce! Re-sign Ema!
I like Panayotou but we need more teeth in the midfield - Polster can’t do it alone.