Happy new year Revs family! I’m so grateful to everyone who has taken the time to read these silly posts week in and week out. Especially now that we’re officially in “silly-season”. More specifically, we’re in a bit of an offseason dead-zone at the moment. The Revs hoisted the Supporters Shield on November 7th, and I don’t believe they’ve played since then….
There have been a few offseason moves already. To Recap:
- The Revs retained most of their 2021 roster, but did let Scott Caldwell, Collin Verfurth, and Luis Caicedo walk.
- Teal Bunbury was traded to Nashville SC
- Brad Knighton was briefly out of contract, but was eventually re-signed to his record breaking 12th season with New England
- Tajon Buchanan made his way over the Atlantic to begin his career with Club Brugge
- Sebastian Lletget was traded to New England from the Galaxy for up to $1.3M
- The Revs sign free agent, and former Bruce Arena player, Omar Gonzalez after a tough season in Toronto
All of this taken together leaves the Revolution in fairly decent position to compete again in 2022. The roster is deep almost everywhere and, even with the departure of Tajon Buchanan, there is reason to be hopeful in the coming season. However, as I posted last week, there are some areas that New England could afford to strengthen before they kick off the new campaign against Portland on February 26th.
The latest collective bargaining agreement between the players union and the league has vastly increased the number of players who are eligible to take part in free agency. There LOTS of options for New England to kick the tires on. That said, free agents are free agents for a reason. There are no home-runs here, and the high profile players that do exist in free agency have already been signed or are in advanced talks.
With that in mind, here are three players that could prove useful to the Revs in 2022.
Akinola was not re-signed by Toronto for this season, after sustaining a season ending ACL injury in July. Toronto is undergoing some roster upheaval after the 2020 Supporters Shield runners-up belly flopped in 2021. It turns out Chris Armas was not the answer for the Reds, taking over after coach Greg Vanney departed for LA ahead of the 21 season. They’ve replaced him with former LAFC manager, Bob Bradley. With all the moving pieces it’s understandable that Akinola might not make the cut.
It’s always risky taking a chance on an injured or injury prone player. Akinola tore his ACL which is a tough injury to come back from quickly, and the typical timeline is 8-12 months post injury. This means he wouldn’t be healthy enough to play until late-spring or summer.
That said, the 21 year old was nothing short of phenomenal in 2020, scoring 9 goals in 16 appearances. He came in 2nd in goals scored during the MLS is Back tournament, netting 5 times in 3 matches.
New England’s future at striker is a bit uncertain at the moment. Adam Buksa lead the line for the Revs in 2021 but is in the last year of his contract and has hinted at a desire to move back to Europe. There haven’t been any serious rumblings, and should he remain in New England through at least the summer, Akinola would make a lot of sense as a developmental piece behind him.
This is less of a pure necessity, since the Revolution signed Omar Gonzalez earlier this offseason. Anibaba is out of contract with Nashville SC after being selected from the Revs during the 2019 expansion draft.
With the addition of Gonzalez, the Revs are now mostly set up to play in a formation with 3 center-backs, if they want to. That would, however, require more depth. Anibaba is 33 and didn’t earn a ton of minutes with Nashville, but is still an athletic defender capable of making up ground. Plus you gotta love a dude who celebrates this hard every time he blocks a shot.
? ⚽️ Big block for Jalil Anibaba in the 20th minute!#NERevs pic.twitter.com/IiTCHSlTal
— New England Revolution (@NERevolution) March 2, 2019
Joe Gyau is, at time of writing, currently out of contract. The right winger/wing-back most recently had the misfortune of playing for FC Cincinnati during all three of their wooden spoon seasons. The former US international cut his teeth in Bundesliga and the lower German divisions, with Hoffenheim and Dortmund, before injuries derailed his career. He took a move back to the US and the hope was it would put his career back on track.
Well… we’ve all watched Cincinnati play. As a club they’re not exactly out there rejuvenating careers. FCC opted to convert him from winger to wing-back to mixed results. As a player, he’s a winger with good straight line speed. My thinking is that, with New England, he could provide some of the speed the Revs lost with Tajon Buchanan leaving. He could also provide some depth and competition for Brandon Bye at right back, which is really the only place the Revolution still need depth. His most recent salary was in the $2-300K region but if that could be negotiated down, there are certainly worse options in free-agency.
Did I miss anyone? Are these terrible options? Let us know on twitter!