The Revs played an absolutely pivotal game vs NYCFC on Sunday. With a pair of poor home performances and their position in the standings, it was a must win scenario. With their playoff chances on the line, the Revs put in a spirited 3-0 performance, winning and effectively keeping their playoff chances alive.
Instead of talking about that, I want to focus on another topic. A debate that has raged on within the Revolution fan community throughout time. A question that is undoubtedly a part of the fabric of our game.
In order to address that question, I’ll need to transport you back in time. Back to the distant (checks notes) … last Wednesday.
Cue harp sound effect!
Add some wavy distortion on the TV!
Yeah like that!
Is Tommy McNamara the most underrated player on the Revs?
If you ask Charlie Davies, the answer to that question is yes! During Wednesday’s broadcast of the 0-0 home draw vs the Chicago Fire, there weren’t any goals to talk about. There was very little in the way of encouraging offensive play to talk about either.
As such, the broadcasters had to make their own conversation. Part of that involved a Davies making a spirited defense of TMac as the most underrated player on the team.
Being the intrepid investigative journalist that I am, I abdicated any responsibility to come up with my own opinion, and simply polled Twitter.
Who is the most underrated #NERevs player? Comment below with additional options.
— Revolution Nation (@RevsNationBOS) September 3, 2022
Lets go over the results as well as the merits of each player who received votes!
Rennicks received the fewest votes in our poll at just 4.7%. Importantly, 4.7% is more than 0, but not by much. A quick glance at the comments shows that there was even some disagreement that he belonged as a poll option at all.
Justin Rennicks notches his first MLS goal to give @NERevolution the early lead! pic.twitter.com/XZJSGAVzDY
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 9, 2022
I think he deserves at least to be part of the conversation, for a few reasons. For starters, with all the roster turnover this season there really aren’t that many players who could qualify as underrated. Sebastian Lletget might have been an option before he was shipped off to Dallas midseason.
Second of all, part of being underrated is… well, not being highly rated. He certainly fits the bill on that account, with many people speaking ill of his game in recent weeks.
What those people are missing is this. He was never supposed to be in this position. At the beginning of the season, he was 4th or 5th on the depth chart at striker, behind Gustavo Bou, Adam Buksa, Jozy Altidore and (depending on who you ask) Edward Kizza.
In the ensuing months we watched Kizza, Buksa, and Altidore leave the team. Then Bou got injured. Then Vrioni signed with the Revs before, almost immediately, he picked up an injury of his own.
For good stretches of this season, Rennicks has been the last man standing. In that time, he’s been fairly effective. He works hard, runs hard, and doesn’t shut off. His 17.69 pressures per game ranks in the 77th percentile among forwards. He’s only managed a pair of goals, but given the lack of support around him, I think it’s been a successful step forward for Rennicks.
LFG, @JustinRennicks! pic.twitter.com/n29SLjvVPI
— New England Revolution (@NERevolution) August 18, 2022
Farrell has been a constant in the Revs lineup since 2013. He’s nearing 300 total appearances and leads all Revs in starts.
Farrell didn’t take home a ton of the vote in our poll, finishing with 20.7%. That said, he plays a position where mistakes are easily noticed. And he certainly hasn’t been mistake free this season.
Still, it’s hard to undervalue the type of consistency he brings to the team. In a season where the center backs (and rest of the team) has been in and out of the lineup with injuries, the fact that he’s only missed a pair of games this season has to be noted as a plus.
This run by Andrew Farrell was my favorite part of the game #NERevs pic.twitter.com/3g6DxQGREI
— Seth (@SethMan31) August 29, 2022
After all the miles put on his legs, he’s still putting in the types of hustle plays you see above. Statistically, he’s well above average in tackles, dribbles, and progressive passes. Frequently the team captain throughout his MLS career, his consistency and leadership make him a good candidate for “most underrated”.
Turns out a majority of voters disagreed with Davies’ assessment that McNamara was the most underrated player on the team. Nevertheless TMac still brought in a whopping 33.7% of the vote. And for good reason.
Tommy Mac had no business getting to that cross first but he did and I think that about sums up Tommy Mac.#NERevs https://t.co/kswXA5DTwF
— Jeff Lemieux (@jeff_lemieux) September 5, 2022
Tommy McNamara has built his reputation with the Revolution for being a solid, if unspectacular, midfielder. He’s very flexible in his positioning, having played as a defensive midfielder, central midfielder, a winger, and in the attacking midfield. This has meant that he sees a lot of the field, oftentimes to the chagrin of a subset of Revolution fans.
The most common argument I see on twitter is “he’s a fine player, but shouldn’t be a starter.” Perhaps that’s true. If it is, though, someone should tell TMac. In recent weeks, he’s really stepped up his contributions, with 3 goals and 3 assists on the season.
Tommy McNamara with a BEAUTIFUL shot for the game-winner‼️💪#TigersInThePros#ClemsonUnited🧡💜🏆 pic.twitter.com/7ZeENT5qTO
— Clemson Men's Soccer (@ClemsonMSoccer) May 22, 2022
The best argument for his underratedness is simply that he’s a consistent, mistake free contributor at a number of positions.
Polster earned the win in our poll, taking home 41.3% of the vote. By my estimation, he’s also the most popular of the options among the fanbase. This shouldn’t discount just how underrated a player he is.
Polster has been one of the best in the league at a criminally undervalued position. The defensive midfield is responsible for so many parts of the game that go unnoticed, from dropping into the defense, to breaking up counterattacks, to connecting the defense to the attack when in possession.
Matt Polster is excellent at all of these things. He’s also stepped up his offensive output this year, scoring a pair of goals this season.
Q: Where will the goals come from?
Matt Polster: 🙋♂️ https://t.co/aox2VXaxIq
— Jeff Lemieux (@jeff_lemieux) August 7, 2022
Add his scoring value in with his elite defensive and passing metrics, and you’ve got a clear option for most underrated player.
Disagree with the poll? Think we snubbed one of your favorite players? Let us know on social media!