Fresh off a trip to MLS Cup, anticipation for the 2015 season is high for New England Revolution fans. With a talented core returning, another run at hardware is certainly a possibility. Still, nothing is guaranteed in the unpredictable world of Major League Soccer. With this in mind, here are the top reasons why the Revs might, or might not, lift the MLS Cup this year.
The Revs will win the Supporter’s Shield, US Open Cup and MLS Cup
- The Revs return 10 of the 11 starters from last year’s MLS Cup Final. Since Jay Heaps became head coach in 2011, the Revs have slowly been building a talented, young core. While not all additions have been a success, the foundation is now in place with each piece having a little more experience. Kelyn Rowe is now in his fourth year, Andrew Farrell is third, and Diego Fagundez is no longer a teenager. Consistency goes a long way in MLS and the Revs certainly have it this year.
- A full season of Jermaine Jones. Jones is about to embark on his first full season in MLS, and although he’s currently injured, he’s already dreaming of lifting a trophy. Jones’ impact on the Revs last year was undeniable as he amassed four goals and two assists in ten regular season appearance. Even better was the 11-2-2 record that the Revolution collected when Jones saw the field. A full season with the Revs will help promote familiarity, which can only be good for Jones’ numbers.
- The return of Juan Agudelo. Considering that most of last year’s major contributors are returning, the Revs front office could have stood pat in the offseason. Instead, they looked to bolster the squad, particularly at the forward position. The reacquisition of Agudelo is probably the best possible move that the Revs could have made considering that the 22-year-old has already had success in New England. Back from his European adventure, Agudelo has looked sharp in preseason, combining with players like Fagundez, Rowe, and Teal Bunbury.
The Revs will become known as the New Chivas
- Expectations are raised. After years of being the perennial under dogs, the Revs enter the 2015 season as favorites to win the East, if not the Cup. It’s a different role for New England, who will now have a target on their back. How will the Revs cope with this new found attention? Will they be able to adjust as scouting increases? These two questions, and many more, will be answered as the season unfolds.
- The back line looked shaky in preseason. The departure of A.J. Soares has led to Farrell sliding centrally to partner with Jose Goncalves. Both players are exceptional individually, but they’ll need to develop their chemistry if they’re going to be impenetrable in 2015. Last year, Soares put out a lot of fires by providing coverage when Goncalves played higher. Farrell and Goncalves are similar players in that they like to pressure high and hold on to the ball. Early reports about the Farrell-Goncalves tandem have been mixed, but there’s still time to work out the kinks.
- There’s a glut of talent in the midfield, so how do you use it most effectively? We know Nguyen and Jones are guaranteed starters when healthy, and that Scott Caldwell and Bunbury are likely to play alongside them. The final midfield spot is up for grabs with Fagundez competing with Kelyn Rowe, Sean Okoli, and Andy Dorman. Even Charlie Davies could drop back. Head coach Jay Heaps will have to find a way to effectively line up his team and keep all parties happy.
If you’re a Revs fan, it’s hard to be anything besides optimistic. With only one guaranteed year of Jones left and all of last year’s major players returning, it’s a do-or-die season for the Revolution. Making the playoffs won’t be enough in 2015 as the Foxboro Faithful are craving hardware.
(Image courtesy of Kari Heistad)