The 2022 season is nearly upon us, with the Revolution playing their first meaningful match next Tuesday against Cavaly AS. The off-season has been a busy one, with a few departures and some new blood arriving in the past several weeks. It’s customary, at this time of year, to make a few measured and well researched predictions for the upcoming season. That sounded like a lot of work, so instead here are three mostly unfounded bold predictions for 2022.
Prediction #1: Carles Gil triples his goal total from 2021
“Triples” is doing a lot of heavy lifting in this prediction. In 2021 Carles Gil earned his MVP title on the back of his elite chance-creation numbers. He lead the league in assists, with 18, but actually only scored 4 goals. There are a few reasons to think that number should rise significantly in 2022, and 12 doesn’t seem outside of the realm of possibilty.
For starters, the Revs only earned 3 penalty kicks over the course of last season. That’s not necessarily low, as over half the league earned 4 or fewer, but it’s the fewest the Revs have attempted in a full season since 2015. Furthermore, 1 of those 3 PKs was taken by Gustavo Bou while Gil was out with an injury. It seems reasonable that we should expect Gil to attempt a few extra PKs this season, as the team’s primary penalty-taker.
The next piece of evidence is Tajon Buchanan’s departure. He left for Club Brugge this offseason and brought with him his 8 goals-worth of production from last season. That production may not be fully replaced, but there should be some goals up for grabs. Sebastian Lletget will be replacing Tajon on the field, but stylistically plays more like a central attacking midfielder. I’m predicting that he and Gil may switch back and forth positionally throughout the game. This will allow Gil more freedom to roam, and we know that good things happen when he roams.
Carles Gil just did that. #NERevs pic.twitter.com/FmJv2QyQjC
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) October 21, 2021
Prediction #2: New England will be playing a 4-2-3-1 by Midseason
My prediction is that Bruce won’t want to talk about formations! That’s bold, no?
Bruce when reporters ask about formations #nerevspic.twitter.com/NamAvWYLAO
— William Patterson Whitelaw IV (@whitelaw827) January 14, 2022
There are some real tangible benefits to the 4-4-2 diamond that New England has been rolling with since last season. Not least of which is the fact that it puts New England’s three DPs in their best spots. Carles Gil gets to pull the strings centrally, while Bou and Buksa play off one another in front of goal. The downside to this formation is the amount of pressure it places upon the lone defensive midfielder, in this case Matt Polster. Polster was tasked with covering an immense amount of ground last season as the base of the midfield diamond. This is especially true when New England pushes their outside backs far up into the attacking half to provide width in the buildup.
Polster did so with aplomb in 2021 but, in the playoffs, NYCFC dominated the midfield by transitioning quickly and forcing Polster to defend 1 v 3 on the break. It was a similar story in the recent 4-0 preseason loss against the LA Galaxy. LA transitioned quickly and drove numbers into the midfield leaving Polster all by himself trying to protect the center-backs. This isn’t a knock on Polster at all, mind you. He was among the best d-mids in the league last season. It stands to reason, however, that teams with stronger midfields will be able to exploit this tactical advantage.
You counteract this by adding another body into that part of the field to help break up transitions. One can accomplish this a few ways. You could switch to a three center-back formation, which has been a topic of speculation this offseason. This gives you the option to use an athletic center-back to push up and help squash transitions as they happen. Having caught a glimpse of Omar Gonzalez in preseason, it, uh, seems like he might not be a starter for this team….
Cabral szn 🧨@KvinCabral x #LAGalaxy pic.twitter.com/7P3S7zW1tK
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) February 6, 2022
The other thing you can do, is add another defensive/holding midfielder to the formation. This would come at the expense of removing another position from the field, likely a striker. With the recent rumors surrounding Jozy Altidore to the Revs, New England would arguably have 3 starting caliber center forwards on the roster. This is also before considering the “mystery trialist” (READ: Juan Agudelo) that they have in preseason camp. They could continue to roll out 2 strikers even if they sell Adam Buksa over the summer.
A player with no name on his back wearing the number 52 looking suspiciously like Juan Agudelo has checked into the game for the New England Revolution. #NERevs
— Jeff Lemieux (@jeff_lemieux) February 6, 2022
My guess? Bruce opts to stabilize the midfield by adding another player next to Polster. This has the added benefit of the Revolution not having to rely, game-in game-out on a 32 year old with a lengthy injury history.
Prediction #3: Buksa gets sold for $12M
This one I actually feel is the least bold. It’s been pretty clear over the offseason (and going back a year or so) that there is European interest in Adam Buksa. It’s also clear that Buksa is interested in playing in a top 5 league in Europe. He’s on the final year of his contract with New England, so if they want to get a return on their investment, they’ll need to sell him before the winter.
It was reported, earlier this month, that a Serie B club made an offer for Adam Buksa. Reports ranged wildly from a ~$4M to a 9.5M transfer fee for the Polish striker. It was later leaked that New England wanted a $10-15M offer in order to sell. That’s a lot of money, and would automatically make him one of the most expensive outgoing transfers in league history. He’s a young striker who has looked good in MLS and has even broken into the Polish national team. It’s possible that’s a fair valuation.
The Revs are on the clock on this one. They aren’t in a place where they can wait out the season for the best offer. I think my realistic guess is that NE sells him for around 7-8M, and possibly with a loan back to New England until the end of the season (a la Buchanan last year). But this is a BOLD predictions article, so it’s go bold or go home! I’ll say $12M. Not a penny more, not a penny less.
Prediction #Bonus: Kraft announces a new Revolution Stadium Project
I have no reason to believe this is true but BOB KRAFT WILL ANNOUNCE PLANS TO BUILD A STADIUM IN BOSTON DURING THE ALL STAR GAME THIS YEAR.
If I shout it loud enough, it has to happen right?