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Richie Williams on Giacomo Vrioni: "I Think He Does Play Better With Two Forwards"
"I think it's always easier when you have another striker next to you."
The New England Revolution were shorthanded on Monday night and that forced assistant coach Richie Williams to deploy Giacomo Vrioni as the lone striker for all 90 minutes. The 24-year-old struggled and Williams believes that the striker is best served having a partner up top.
New England was knocked out of Leagues Cup as Querétaro F.C. defeated the Revs in a penalty kick shootout. Vrioni struggled to make an impact in the match as he only recorded 21 touches while completing 83 percent of his passes and having no shots on target. His 21 touches were the least of any outfield player who played 90 minutes.
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To Vrioni’s credit, the Revolution weren’t just shorthanded at striker. New England also played its first match without Brandon Bye who will be out for the rest of the season.
Bye was constantly providing service into the box with his curling crosses and the Revs struggled to provide service to Vrioni. Williams touched upon the lack of service when discussing Vrioni’s performance against Gallos Blancos.
“I think it's always easier when you have another striker next to you,” the coach said. “We just were running low on some strikers in terms of injuries. So, I think he [Giacomo Vrioni] does play better with two forwards. And again, he ended up in a low block, as we just referenced earlier. It's difficult, there's not a lot of space, so and then, of course, if you're not getting good service also, that's going to be really difficult. So, he didn't really create a lot on the day, but that's not just on Giacomo. That's on the team. So, we all ended up losing the game together. And that's just the way it is.”
Luckily when New England is healthy they have multiple options to choose from. Both Bou and Wood have performed well alongside Vrioni. When the Revs return to league play, the 24-year-old should have at least one of his partners in crime back alongside him.
But the future could prove interesting. Bou is 33 years old and his contract ends at the end of the season. Spending a designated player spot on a player of Bou’s age and injury history would be quite risky and the spot could be better used on a different player.
While not occupying a DP spot, Wood is also getting long in the tooth. At 30 years old, expecting him to be your every-game starter would be asking a lot.
So if New England wants to get the best out of Vrioni, they might have to dive into the striker market before the 2024 MLS season. With Tomas Chancalay potentially occupying a DP spot if his loan is made permanent, the Revolution might have to get creative with who they target.
But for now, Vrioni still has some work to do. He needs to improve his hold-up play and his aerial ability. If he is able to do so, he will be a much more complete striker and someone New England can rely on to score no matter the situation