The Revs are back in action! Well, back in training. The Revolution’s offseason break is now officially in the rear-view mirror with training resuming Wednesday January 12th. Now, if you’re reading this and thinking “wait, didn’t they just finish the season?” Yes. Yes they did.
And just like that … It’s #NERevs preseason.
After a very short 5-week offseason, players report today to the training center for the first time in 2022. Players have entrance physicals & performance testing today, and will have their first training session on Wednesday. #MLS pic.twitter.com/G59hF71v5y
— Elizabeth Pehota (@pehota) January 10, 2022
5 weeks isn’t very long, as off-seasons go, but it’s been plenty of time for New England to make some changes to the roster. New England has sent 4 players out, and brought 2 players into the team since their PK loss against NYCFC on November 30th. That said, they’re likely not done making transfers. There is still plenty of time between now and the Revs first action of the 2022 season.
With today marking a natural reference point in the offseason, lets take stock of the moves New England has made so far ahead of the upcoming campaign.
New England Mostly held onto their league record-setting roster from the 2021 season. There was one large transfer out, and 3 players who were not resigned to new contracts with the club. The offseason may be over for the players, but not for the front office. They may soon have to deal with additional player departures, with both Matt Turner and Adam Buksa hinting at a desire to play in Europe. One of those is more ominous than the other.
Tajon is obviously the biggest departure of this offseason. His 8 goals and 5 assists were 3rd and 5th, respectively, on New England last year. He also had a big year with Canada, scoring a marquee goals against Panama and against Mexico during the gold cup.
Canada ties it!!! ??
Tajon Buchanan scores the FIRST goal against Mexico in this year's Gold Cup tournament and levels the score for Canada ? pic.twitter.com/OZiOuDITT7
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 30, 2021
That’s more than solid production for a player that wasn’t costing New England a dime. Over the summer the Revs took that $0 investement and turned a $7M profit by selling Tajon to Club Brugge in Belgium. It’s going to be nearly impossible replace that combination of talent and price tag, which makes this transfer the toughest to overcome.
Caldwell was one of the longest tenured Revolution players in 2021. He joined the team in 2013 and was a mainstay in the midfield for long stretches of those 9 years. He had somewhat fallen out of favor after Bruce Arena took over, and found himself on the outside looking in with the Revs change to a 4-4-2 diamond formation last year. He still managed to make 13 appearances with New England going 13-0-0 over those matches.
Scott “Human Victory Cigar” Caldwell is now 5/5 in save opportunities with a 0.00 GAA.
Is Scott Caldwell the best closer in MLS? ??? #NERevs
— Revolution Recap (@RevolutionRecap) August 1, 2021
Caldwell has not officially found a new home yet this offseason, but it’s all but confirmed he will be going to play with Real Salt Lake in 2022. It’s tough to lose a homegrown, and fan favorite. RSL should feel pretty happy to have “the closer” joining their midfield for this season.
Hopes were sky high for Luis Caicedo’s future with the Revs after a pair of solid seasons in 2018 and 2019. Then heading into the Covid-shortened 2020 season, he had surgery on his knee and missed the entire year. He never quite made it back to the starting lineup after that. A few smaller injury worries kept him out of the roster for much of the ensuing 2021 season. He did finally make his first appearance back with the first team in September, about 15 months after his knee surgery.
Per Reports:#FormerRevs Midfielder Luis Caicedo has returned to Cortuluá in Colombia.
Caicedo, a ?? International from Apartadó, Colombia played 4 seasons in New England (missing all of 2020) with 65 appearances – 1 goals, 4 assists, & 18?s.
— Revolution Nation (@RevsNationBOS) January 4, 2022
He recently signed a contract with Cortulua in Colombia, a club he had played with before. The Revs should be able to withstand his departure. New England was fairly deep in central midfield in 2021, though less so now with the departures of Caicedo and Caldwell.
Verfurth is perhaps more important to Revolution fans for what he represents off the field, than his on-field play. He was the first player to make the jump from Revs II to a first team contract. The rangy 6’4″ center back was among New England’s first signings with Revs II after beginning play around 2 years ago. He never made an appearance with the first team, but continued to make an impact for Clint Peay in USL League-1. Since then, both Jon Bell and Maciel have followed in his footsteps to the first team, and possibly more will soon enough.
The Revs roster is still relatively strong, even after losing those players. That said, Bruce Arena wasted no time bringing in a few familiar faces to help bolster the lineup.
Sebastian Lletget is likely not an unknown commodity if you’re a fan of MLS or US soccer in general. The 29 year old has been a mainstay with the US Men’s National Team for years. He’s also no stranger to Bruce Arena’s management style. Arena signed a fresh faced Lletget from West Ham United in England back in 2015. His positional versatility made him a star with the Galaxy as well as with the US.
He was ostensibly signed to take Tajon Buchanan’s spot on the roster but, as I’ve written previously, they don’t have the same skill set. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, either. Lletget may fit the 4-4-2 diamond better, overall, than Tajon did. Tajon was too talented to keep off the field, but positionally, he didn’t really fit the scheme. Lletget’s passing and link up play are much more in line with what the Revs need from the midfield. Just don’t expect him to beat 4 defenders on his way to goal the way Tajon would.
Surprise! It’s another former Bruce Arena LA galaxy signing! He will join Lletget, AJ DeLaGarza and Ema Boateng at LA Galaxy East (TM). The 33 year old has plied his trade with the LA Galaxy, Pachuca, Atlas and Toronto FC, as well as with the USMNT. Along the way he’s amassed quite the trophy haul, with 3 MLS cups, 2 supporter’s shields, a Mexican title, CCL championship, and 2 Gold Cup wins. He almost certainly doesn’t have the speed or mobility that he once did, but he’s an experienced veteran who knows how to win. His best skill is probably his aerial prowess, as FBRef ranks him in the 84th percentile among CBs in “aerials won” as well as the 94th percentile in expected goals amongst center backs. As a third option, I think you could certainly do worse than an air-dominant center back with a champions pedigree.\
Knighton returns for a (Revolution) record setting 12th season! He was initially not re-signed at the end of 2021 but, after a few weeks negotiating with the club, the long time netminder signed a new contract through 2022. He is more than capable as a backup, filling in 6 times for Matt Turner over the summer. He’s 36, so he’s nearing the end of his career, but it’s another smart move by the Revs FO. He’s a proven asset, who most would feel pretty comfortable with as a starter, should 2021 Goalkeeper of the Year Matt Turner not be available.