Last year at the old job, I took my hacks at what I thought would happen with the 2019 edition of the New England Revolution. As it turned out, I really only got two of my five predictions correct: making (read: sneaking into) the playoffs, and Gabriel Somi’s departure (in the interest of full disclosure, I had said he would be used for the US Open Cup, if that… and that in August, he would be off the books. I was about two months too late on that, as he was on his way out on June 21).
What did I get wrong? The whole Wayne Rooney wouldn’t play at Gillette — he had to, given DC United were without Paul Arriola for the May 25 trip — Brad Friedel would continue to clean house (didn’t happen), and that 2019 would be Zach Herivaux’s breakout year (sure, he got minutes in Birmingham).
That being said, I would use these for entertainment purposes only, if I were you. This year, I give you these predos three…
The Revs will challenge for the top spot in the Eastern Conference
Hard to believe, given the seventh place finish in the East in 2019… but with a full season for Gustavo Bou, a second year for Carles Gil, and a new striker in Adam Buksa — and with a number of teams in the East not necessarily getting better — is there anyone out here who isn’t looking at New England as a pushover as we enter 2020?
I don’t think so.
The Revs have obviously been incredibly busy in the lead-up to the Christmas break, even adding defensive depth two days before Christmas in Samba Camara. Right now, everything is looking up for The Boys In Blue.
Obviously Atlanta United is Atlanta, given the firepower in its lineup. DC has lost Rooney, and the Red Bulls don’t have Bradley Wright-Phillips on the roster any longer (at least as of now).
Does anyone else worry me in the East? At this moment, not at all.
Three double-digit scorers — or more?
We already know what Gil (10 goals, 14 assists) and Bou (9 goals, 2 assists) can do. So what about Buksa? From what we understand, the Polish striker had a strong right foot and can score from distance — much in the way that Bou did on a couple of occasions during his half-season in Foxborough.
So what does Bou do with a full preseason and a full season with the Revs? We’re thinking he does amazing things again, making defensive units and goalkeepers look relatively silly. Same with Gil, especially when the Revs draw penalties; of Gil’s 10 goals, four came from the penalty spot.
And Buksa… he’s the unknown entity here, much like Gil was, much like Bou was. If Buksa can have the same debut season that those two had in 2019, oh nelly… opposing onion bags may need re-inforcing!
But how about more? Can Cristian Penilla re-discover that touch that made him so dangerous in 2018? Or Teal Bunbury… can he get into Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop mode? Or Diego Fagundez? Can he put 2019 behind him and do what he does best?
Revs make a serious US Open Cup run
It’s been four years since New England made a solid run toward the domestic title (2016), but fell short in Dallas that season.
And with no Champions League or Leagues Cup at stake — the Revs just missed out on the latter — New England will put forth its efforts toward both trophies. And when you look at the players the Revs have who could conceivably play in the Open Cup — like Justin Rennicks and the other younger Homegrown players, not to mention whoever the club picks in SuperDraft next week, plus the Old Guard who may not get a lot of playing time given the moves Bruce Arena has made — can you foresee a situation where the Revs are competing for, and maybe even winning, one of the two available trophies?
I really can.
There is plenty of optimism surrounding New England’s top soccer club with the fans, and there’s an extreme chance that 2020 is the year the Revolution ends the trophy drought.