We’re 4 matches into the 2023 season, and with the new AppleTV imposed scheduling guidelines, that means we’re 4 weeks into the season as well!

The Revs for their part have looked pretty good, securing 3 wins and 1 loss in their 4 matches this season.  The most recent match was a 1-0 win vs Nashville SC.  It came at a good time for New England, for whom this game served as something of a measuring stick.  The Revs were riding high after beating down Charlotte and Houston to start the season.  LAFC would return the favor in week 3, stomping the Revs 4-0.

New England needed a win.  As it turns out, beating Houston and Charlotte is in fashion this season.  So is losing to LAFC.  Nashville is a good team, and a much better barometer for how good the Revolution actually are.  Lucky for Revs fans, Gustavo Bou delivered a game winning rocket and New England now sit on 9 points.

With one month in the books, let’s take a look at who (or what) sees their stock rising, and who may see it falling.

Stock Up: Revs Defense

This is pretty straightforward.  New England haven’t exactly faced a murderer’s row of firepower so far this season (LA excepted), but they’ve looked very good to start the season.  With the exception of the second half at LAFC, the Revs haven’t allowed a goal from open play.  They’ve earned 3 clean sheets in 4 matches.  Last year it took New England 16 matches to accomplish that feat.

Stock Down: Giacomo Vrioni

The Revs DP striker had a bit of a rude introduction to MLS.  He joined in the middle of last season and shortly thereafter found himself among the many players on the injury report throughout last summer/fall.  After a golden boot performance in Austria the season prior, fans had high expectations for the Albanian.  Those expectations would remain unmet in 2022, but hopes remained high through the offseason.

The only televised Revolution preseason match gave fans a glimpse of what they had been hoping for.  Vrioni scored a towering header, and forced an own goal to help New England grab a come from behind victory.  Was the Juve product finally coming good?

That remains to be seen.  After starting for New England in week 1 he’s only managed substitute appearances since.  It appears as though Bobby Wood has overtaken him on the depth chart.  That’s not a mistake.  Vrioni has struggled to get involved when he’s out there, and in 137 minutes has only one shot to his name.  That’s certainly not what you want to see from a striker, worse a Designated Player.  He’ll need to figure things out quick.

Stock Up: Noel Buck

Buck burst onto the scene last year as one of a crop of young homegrown players.  While fellow HGPs Justin Rennicks, Damian Rivera, and Esmir Bajraktarevic (as well as newcomer Jack Panayotou) have all shown reasons for optimism, none have seen their stock rise as much as Buck.  With injuries to midfielders Tommy McNamara and Maciel, Buck has had to step into the starting lineup at just 17 years of age.

He has done so with aplomb, earning a “Team of the Matchday” shoutout as well as praise from coaches and pundits alike.

Stock Down: Injuries

The Revs had a hard time with injuries last season, and that appears as though it may bleed into the current campaign.

New England started the season without the likes of Andrew Farrell, Tommy McNamara, Gustavo Bou, Nacho Gil, Latif Blessing, and Maciel.  Now the Revs are also dealing with an apparent injury to star midfielder Carles Gil.

Fortunately the team’s depth has looked up to the task so far, with standout performances from the aforementioned Noel Buck, as well as Dave Romney and Bobby Wood.

Speaking of…

Stock Up: Bruce’s Offseason GM’ing

If you’re wondering if a Revs fan is an optimist or a pessimist, ask them how they rate Bruce Arena as a general manager.  This is Arena’s 5th season with the club, and he’s now got a lengthy list of acquisitions to his name.  Some of these acquisitions have been great, like Adam Buksa, Gustavo Bou, and Matt Polster.  Others have been… less great, like Omar Gonzalez, Alex Buttner, and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi.

Public opinion on his track record had taken a swing towards pessimism after his 2022 offseason and midseason moves.  Winter ‘22 saw Bruce sign Omar Gonzalez, Jozy Altidore, and Sebastian Lletget.  Only Lletget looked like an impactful player, and Arena sold him to Dallas midseason upon his request for a positional change.

The summer signings of Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, Giacomo Vrioni, Christian Makoun, and Clement Diop didn’t fare much better.  Tajouri-Shradi and Clement Diop both left the club in the offseason without ever playing a game.  Makoun and Vrioni have looked ok at times, but both have failed to crack the starting lineup with any regularity.

All that made this offseason a critical one for Arena’s reputation.  We’re only a month in, but early indications are very positive for Bruce.  Offseason acquisitions Dave Romney, Latif Blessing, and Bobby Wood have all played significant minutes to start the year.

They’ve all looked good, for the most part, too.  Romney seems a natural fit next to Henry Kessler in central defense.  Bobby Wood has a goal, and Blessing has an assist.  Revs fans should feel pretty good about the offseason haul.

Stock Down: Heckling

Speaking of Jozy Altidore…

He hasn’t played much for New England after joining New England last offseason.  Bruce Arena sent him off on loan to Liga MX last season, and speculation ran wild that he wouldn’t return to the Revs this year.  But return he did.

After the recent win vs Nashville, some fans decided to heckle Altidore during post game sprints.  This prompted him to run over to the stands to shout back, and for team ops to intervene.  There’s video of the event which I won’t post here, you can look it up if you want.  Little is known about what was said to Altidore, so I don’t think it’s fair to present just a potentially one sided version of events.

My thoughts on the matter are essentially an adapted version of the above clip from Scrubs.

“You had a tough day at the office so you go to the Revs game, eat dinner, heckle a player on your own team after a win, admire a TIFO, maybe have a drink… it’s fun right?  Wrong.  Don’t heckle a players on your own team after a win.”

Stock Up: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV

We’re a month into the new MLS streaming TV deal with Apple, and things have mostly been great.  The lineup of talent has been great, and Apple has done a great job of creating engaging content surrounding the sport.

The deal has also mandated that teams produce more weekly and monthly content which is great for hardcore fans that eat, sleep, and breathe MLS.

Stock Down: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV

What’s not great for fans that eat, sleep and breathe MLS is the single match window scheduling.  In order to promote a more predictable and marketable league, Apple mandated that teams will play on Saturdays at 7:30pm local time.  With very limited exceptions.  This is great for MLS’s new whip-around show, but somewhat less great for fans looking to fill their weekend with MLS.  This effectively limits your MLS watching to 7:30-12:30AM eastern time, and leaves a big gap for the rest of the week.

I’d also note that the integration of the app has been far from seamless.  There are many improvements Apple could afford to make to improve user experience.  These could include a more intuitive way to view match replays, condensed matches, a match center to view all the games on one screen etc.  I trust apple to figure things out, but for now it’s great content poorly laid out.

Big Stock Up: This Guy

Don’t think that requires any explanation.


Photo credit: Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald
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