The summer transfer window just closed and my family are out of town, so it seems like the perfect time for a bonus article!  The Revs were active in the summer window, and it continues a year of change for Bruce Arena’s team.

The biggest moves of the window, of course, were the transfer of striker Adam Buksa to Ligue 1 and the subsequent signing of Giacomo Vrioni from Juventus.  The Albanian striker was brought to New England as a DP and as a direct replacement for Buksa.  As the end of the transfer window approached, earlier this week, New England made a flurry of transfers with hopes of turning the season around.

Moves like these can inspire feverish, sometimes heated, discussion. In this article, I challenge myself to a spirited debate.  I’ll examine each move from an optimistic and pessimistic viewpoint.  Tell me which one you agree with in the comments!

Revs Replace Buksa with Giacomo Vrioni

Glass Half Full:

Buksa gets to fulfill his dream of playing in a big league and Vrioni has the profile of a striker that should have success in MLS.  In many ways he reminds me of Buksa when he came into the league.  23 years old, recently experienced a breakout in a ‘lesser’ European league, plenty of European interest, just starting to break into his national team.  We all know how things turned out for Buksa.  There’s good reason to think Vrioni could follow a similar path.

He’s also coming off a stellar season with WSG Tirol in the Austrian Bundesliga, which is a league that has produced its fair share of MLS starters recently.

Glass Half Empty:

We all knew Buksa was going to leave and take his goals with him.  New England is coming off a historically good season.  The time to swing big and try to win a championship is now.

The Revs are already trying to cope with the losses of Tajon Buchanan and Matt Turner which have set them back in the early season.  Losing Buksa and replacing him with a young, relatively unproven talent puts a huge dent in the Revs chances in the short term.

Jozy Altidore Loan to Puebla

Glass Half Full:

This is pretty straightforward.  Jozy wanted more playing time, and he wasn’t going to pass Bou or Vrioni on the depth chart anytime soon.  This is Bruce doing right by his player.  Best case scenario, Jozy performs well and it either earns a permanent move or returns to New England in good form.  This move frees up a roster spot and, rumor has it, frees up some cap space as well.

Glass Half Empty:

It’s hard to see this as anything less than an admission that it was a bad move to sign him in the first place.  Jozy wanted more playing time to make his case for the World Cup, but has hardly done enough to earn more minutes.  His time with the Revs hasn’t exactly produced results, especially considering the price tag and contract length.  This loan, if there’s no buyout from Puebla, just sort of kicks the can down the road.  Jozy is under contract with New England through 2024.

Sebastian Lletget Traded to FC Dallas

Glass Half Full

This is a tougher one to swallow.  I’ve made no bones about how much I liked Lletget during his time here. The positive spin here is that Lletget gets to play for a team that more closely fits his strengths.  While he still managed to produce 2 goals and 5 assists with the Revs, he mostly did so from the wing, which is not his best spot.  In Dallas he’ll get to play more centrally, which could help him make his case to Gregg Berhalter.

New England could have also made a bit of money on the deal.  The Revs bought Lletget from the LA Galaxy for $500K with the possibility to rise as high as $1.3M depending on whether or not he meets certain incentives.  The sale price to Dallas was $600K.  Tom Bogert, back in the winter, described the incentives as “high in the sky”, so it’s possible he hasn’t met any of them in his ~7 months with the Revs.

Glass Half Empty

It’s another (non)admission from Bruce Arena that he bungled his offseason moves.

He had the opportunity to build on a record setting team from 2021 and couldn’t find the right pieces in the offseason to keep the momentum going.  This move is worse than the Altidore loan, since Lletget was actually productive.  He wasn’t being used correctly in the Revs system but the talent was there.  Now the Revs will need to fill yet another vacancy during a season that fans were hoping would deliver some silverware.

Revs trade for Christian Makoun

Glass Half Full

Heading into August, I think most Revs fans would have told you that the team needed the most improvement to the center backs and defensive midfielders.  Christian Makoun can play in either spot.

He entered the league MLS as Inter Miami’s 3rd ever signing as a club, after Matias Pellegrini and Julian Carranza.  The early emphasis in Miami was to find young promising South/Central Americans to develop.  The rest of their roster build after that? Well it got a little dicey.  As a result of breaking the roster construction rules (basically having 5 designated players), they’ve had to jettison some good players to meet their financial punishment.  Makoun was one of those players, sold to Charlotte FC over the winter.

He has shown some promise in his nascent career and has already accumulated 43 appearances in 2 and a half years in MLS.  At just 22 he’s got plenty of room to develop, he doesn’t take an international spot, and he’s on a relatively inexpensive contract.  Playing for a team that is A) NOT serving a leauge mandated punishment for rule breaking, and B) is unlikely to fire their head coach after only 14 games should help.  This seems like a win.

Glass Half Empty

The Revs have been bleeding goals this season.  They are among the worst teams in MLS in goals conceded in the final 15 minutes of games.  Is this move really going to help solve those problems?  This year?  The way it seems now, is that Makoun would slot in as probably the 4th center back on the depth chart.  Maybe he’ll develop quickly and overtake Jon Bell for the number 3 spot, but in either case it’s going to take an injury for him to be relevant with the Revs this year.

Makoun has a good number of appearances, but isn’t exactly highly regarded by Charlotte FC fans.  If he had hit the ground running and performed well, it’s hard to imagine Miami would have been willing to sell in the first place.

Coming with a $400K price tag, the best thing that can be said of the move, as it pertains to 2022, is that it’s another body in between Omar Gonzalez and the starting lineup.  It just reads as a move intended for the future, when we could really use some help here in the present.

Revs Trade for Clement Diop

Glass Half Full

This is one of those  un-sexy MLS moves that just make sense.  The Revs have already spent a ton of resources on the goalkeeper position this season.  Matt Turner (2021 MLS GKotY) signed a deal with Arsenal in the winter, and Bruce Arena loaded the roster with 3 backups hoping one would emerge as a starter.  None truly impressed.  This meant going out and signing a 4th keeper, Djordje Petrovic, who has looked very good this year.

So why sign a 5th goalkeeper? There are recent reports that 1st rounder Jacob Jackson is going on season ending IR.  Combine that with the fact that Brad Knighton is 34 and is in the last year of his contract, it’s possible he’s going to consider retirement.  If that happens, and Jackson’s injury requires a lengthy recovery period, the GK room would be down to just Petrovic and Earl Edwards (who may also be running out of time on his contract).

Diop is more than capable as a backup keeper in MLS.  He’s got 50 MLS appearances and was decent as a starter for Montreal in 2019-2021.  He also comes with familiarity with the Revs coaching staff, having played for Curt Onalfo with LA Galaxy II in 2015 and with the Bruce Arena lead Galaxy in 2016.  Throw in the fact that, apparently, Miami is continuing to pay some of his salary?  Can’t beat that.

Glass Half Empty

This move is moreso bad for what it’s not, rather than what it is.  Like the Makoun move, this is a move that looks too far into the future, to the detriment of the present.  The Revs have real problems on the field that need to be addressed if they want to win MLS Cup.  These problems are not a secret.  Central defense, and defensive midfield have been plaguing this team for years.  A 3rd/eventual 2nd string goalkeeper isn’t addressing those problems.

Also, didn’t we just witness a pretty vivid demonstration that Bruce signing former players of his might not be the best idea?  Bruce has gone back to the well with Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Lletget, AJ DeLaGarza, Emmanuel Boateng, Omar Gonzalez, and now Diop.  Only one of those players was ever a first choice starter for New England, and they just traded him to Dallas.

Revs Trade for Ismael Tajouri-Shradi

Glass Half Full

Part of this season, for the Revolution, has hinged around finding a way to control the middle of the field.  Good teams were having far to easy a time beating the Revs in the midfield, since the 4-4-2 diamond formation left a lot on Matt Polster’s plate.  This sparked a shift to a 4-2-3-1.  That move was also facilitated by New England pretty much never having 2 forwards healthy at the same time, but finding ways to give less ground to opposing attacking midfielders was the main driver.  This formation substitutes a forward for a D-Mid, but it also makes use of wingers.  Dylan Borrero can play on one of the wings, and has looked good, but Lletget was never really suited to play on the other wing.

Enter Tajouri-Shradi.  “ITS” is a natural right winger, and should slot right into a 4-2-3-1 if the Revs intend to play that way.  He’s got a knack for goal, boasting an impressive 30 goals since 2018 as a winger for NYCFC and LAFC.  He’s also the owner of a recent MLS goal of the week honor, for this beauty.

Revolution fans may also begrudgingly remember a few choice goals Tajouri-Shradi scored against New England.  Additionally, his penalty kick during the shootout in last years playoffs immediately followed Adam Buksa’s miss, which effectively put all the pressure on New England. If he can deliver FOR the Revs as well as he did AGAINST them, he should be a great addition.

Glass Half Empty

Ismael Tajouri-Shradi is a good player.  That’s not really up for debate.  Unfortunately, in order to show those skills, you need to stay healthy.  That’s something ITS has struggled with over the past few seasons.  He has already missed a number of games this season with a quad injury and that’s not all that uncommon.

Gustavo Bou and Dylan Borrero are both missing their third game in a row with injuries.  Bou in particular has had a hard time staying healthy over the past few seasons.  With Tajouri-Shradi also somewhat injury prone, will this attack ever be full strength?  Need I remind you that New England plays on turf?

The Revs did need a goal scoring winger to roam the right side of the field, but if he ends up missing extended portions of the season, he won’t help the Revs accomplish the ultimate goal; winning MLS Cup.

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