Tied for first place in the Eastern Conference, New England Revolution’s squad depth makes it the most complete roster in Major League soccer.
Jay Heaps’ side picked up its fifth victory of the season on Sunday with a commanding display against league leaders in points, Seattle Sounders. Revolution’s defense stifled the dynamic duo of Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey, while the offense tore apart a feeble Sounders defense.
For New England, the 5-0 beating it laid on Seattle was a warning to the rest of the league. The youthful offence proved that it is capable of scoring in bunches, the defense showed resilience against best offense in the league, and altogether, they made Gillette Stadium a place teams would dread to play at.
On paper, this Revolution squad is better than every team in the MLS. They have youth and experience, energy and wisdom, and top-notch leadership.
Here is the breakdown of why New England is unquestionably MLS’s imperforate team.
Protecting the goal is adequate shot-stopper, Bobby Shuttleworth. The 26-year-old is one of the brightest goalkeepers in the league. He uses his big frame to the best of his ability and his quick reflex is what keeps him in the starting lineup.
Shuttleworth’s backup is former Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper, Brad Knighton. The North Carolina native is also a good shot-stopper and a decent player to have coming off the bench.
Despite being without last year’s Defender of the Year and club captain, Jose Goncalves, for five of the team’s 10 games, Revolution has one of the stingiest defense in the league. Only three teams out of the 19 in MLS have conceded fewer goals and New England still haven’t conceded a goal at home.
In a four man backline, Heaps has seven versatile starting options. The young coach could chose to start second year sensation, Andrew Farrell, on the right side or in the middle. With Farrell in the middle, Darius Barnes, with 106 MLS appearances, is capable of playing the right back role to perfection.
On the left side of the defense, Heaps has the option of either deploying Kevin Alston or Chris Tierney. Both players have over 260 MLS appearances between them. And in the heart of defense, Heaps has the can pick can chose either A.J Soares or Stephen McCarthy to start alongside a healthy Goncalves.
Most coaches in the MLS are probably jealous when they see the midfielders at Heaps’ disposal. He has both experienced midfield generals and young creative masterminds. Even though last year’s midfield maestro, Kelyn Rowe, has been battling injuries this season, New England continue to be a force in the middle.
In his innovative five man midfield, Heaps has the option of picking either experienced Andy Dorman or young Scott Caldwell as his defensive midfielder. Both players are very capable, but so far this season, Dorman has been the go to guy. Club Legend, Shalrie Joseph, is also an option off the bench.
Lee Nguyen and Daigo Kobayashi are probably the starters with Rowe out injured, but Revolution has an option on the bench. Fourth overall pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, Steve Neumann, is as one of the brightest prospects in American soccer. The 22-year-old scored 41 goals and created 34 goals in 67 starts at Georgetown.
Diego Fagundez, Saer Sene, Charlie Davies and Teal Bunbury are players Heaps can deploy out-wide. All this players are capable of scoring goals. Bunbury has 21 MLS goals in 5 years, Davies scored 11 goals in 2011, Sene has 16 goals in 56 appearances and Fagundez scored a team-high 13 goals last season.
Although he prefers to use one center-forward, Heaps has six players that can play the position. Rookie Patrick Mullins has started the last two games and scored a goal in each. With the rookie fitting perfectly into the team, Dimitry Imbongo and Jerry Bengston are quality options off the bench.
Also, Sene, Bunbury and Davies would fit perfectly up top. They’ve all had success playing the position in previous years.
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