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Revolution Strikers Struggle Against Pittsburgh Riverhounds
It was a dreadful Tuesday evening
Tuesday evening was a disaster for the New England Revolution as they were knocked out of the U.S. Open Cup in the Round of 32 by the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. After failing to score a goal against a lower-division team, Bruce Arena was rightfully not pleased with the attacking play of his strikers.
“I don’t think our forwards played very well tonight, Arena said when asked about Giacomo Vrioni’s performance.
Vrioni had the least touches out of any player who was on the field for the entire game (25) and the Designated Player only tallied one shot on the night (which was directly at the goalkeeper).
While Vrioni struggled, his striker partner also had a disappointing night. Jozy Altidore was dispossessed twice, won zero ground duels, and had three blocked shots.
Altidore had the best chance of the game for New England with a clear look on goal but he rocketed his shot over the crossbar and into the stands.
Arena noted that Altidore was “exhausted” at the end of the game and his fitness still has a some way to go.
“He [Jozy Altidore] has a way to go with his fitness,” the head coach and sporting director said. “He was obviously exhausted in the end, and we used all our available substitutions, so he had to suck it up.”
There is plenty of blame to go around but against a lower-level team, Vrioni and Altidore should have been able to show their class and skill. The fact that they were unable to is concerning. While Vrioni has shown some life this year, Altidore has yet to make an impact since returning from his loan to Puebla.
The striker situation in New England is quite unique in the fact that based on the numbers, the Revs have a deep group of strikers. Along with two DP’s in Gustavo Bou and Vrioni, New England has veterans in Bobby Wood and Altidore. Homegrown Justin Rennicks can step in as well along with him getting some playing time as a winger.
But injuries along with underperforming players have actually exposed that maybe the Revolution aren’t as deep as they thought at the position. While the likes of Vrioni aren’t leaving anytime soon, Altidore’s spot on the roster needs to be pondered.
While Toronto FC is paying a portion of his $4,264,963.00 salary (salary figure according to MLSPA Player Salary Guide), that is still a large amount of money sunk into a player that is underperforming and still finding fitness according to Arena. With updated roster guidelines for 2023, New England has until the closing of the Secondary Transfer Window (August 2) to buyout a player and free up cap space.
If Altidore is unable to improve, the Revolution will have to consider using the buyout option on the veteran striker. While the same can’t be said for Vrioni, the DP needs to improve his game or New England might look to move on from him after the 2023 season.