Everything you need to know about Revolution II’s inaugural USL League One season in quickie form:
Revs II finishes ninth in shortened, unbalanced season: Originally slated to get underway on Saturday, March 28, the COVID-19 pandemic shut things down until late July, when Revs II kicked off against eventual League One finalist Union Omaha on July 25. New England had a rough start, capturing one win in its first nine. But a four-match winning streak which turned to a five-match unbeaten streak highlighted the second half of the season. Los Revitos finished the 2020 season at 5-8-3, good enough for ninth place in the league. It was an unbalanced 16-match fixture list with single matches against FC Tucson, Greenville Triumph, and South Georgia Tormenta filling out a slate which saw New England play everyone else twice.
Revs launch 19 pro careers: It turned into a weekly or even bi-weekly question — just who would head coach Clint Peay trot out there and give them their professional debut? In total, New England gave 19 players, including 12 players in its Academy program, a kickstart for their pro careers, with a number of them earning more than their share of minutes with the second team. Academy player Colby Quinones had the most minutes for non-Homegrown, Academy-based players with 1,149 at right back, making 14 appearances and 12 starts.
Rennicks gives team a boost: As the first team resumed play in August, it soon became clear that Justin Rennicks wasn’t going to get much playing time; he had only had four appearances, which were short run-outs at best. With no playing time in the immediate future seen, Rennicks went to the second team and immediately made his presence known in a 1-0 loss to FC Tucson. The following week, he scored his League One opener against Union Omaha, then followed that up with a goal against Orlando City B. He finished his half season with four goals and an assist.
TURNING POINT OF THE SEASON
The morning of Sept. 26 saw the Revs take on Orlando City B in an 11 a.m. tilt. New England had just come off a 2-0 win over Union Omaha and looked to gain more confidence against a Little Lions team which fell to 11th rather quickly. The aforementioned goal by Rennicks in the first minute of the second half was all New England needed to boost their confidence. They followed that up with a 4-0 win in Richmond, the first team to beat Richmond at its place this season, as well as a 4-1 win over Fort Lauderdale, which ended up being their last win of the season.
That day also saw Joe Rice, Peay’s first-choice goalkeeper, go down with a season-ending injury.
Joe Rice, Tiago Mendonça, Nicolas Firmino, Justin Rennicks, Collin Verfurth, Colby Quinones
Ryan Spaulding, Conor Presley, Damian Rivera, Jon Bell
Nicolas Firmino — 4 goals, 2 assists
Justin Rennicks — 4 goals, 1 assist
Orlando Sinclair — 2 goals, 2 assists
Damian Rivera — 2 goals, 1 assist
Isaac Angking — 2 goals, 0 assists
Ryan Spaulding and Tiago Mendonça each had a goal a two assists, while Mayele Malango had a goal and an assist. Ryo Shimazaki had a goal to win New England’s first game. Conor Presley and Hikaru Fujiwara recorded single assists each.
WHAT SWEENS REALLY THINKS AS THE SEASON ENDS
Am I really about to give praise for a sub-.500 season? Not really. The way it started… look, let’s not make excuses here. One win in nine outings is just not good. I don’t care if it was a pandemic and you had limited training time before this shortened season finally got underway: you’re professional soccer players, you go out and perform up to a certain set of standards. Do we make excuses for Orlando Sinclair, a loanee brought here to score goals, who just couldn’t find the back of the net? Do we make excuses for the defending, which gave up back-to-back four-goal shutouts and made everyone wonder if the season was over a month in? And the way it ended — a 4-0 defeat to South Georgia, a 2-1 collapse against Forward Madison — wasn’t good, either.
Is there talent in this team? Sure. No question about it. I wrote in the midst of the winning streak a couple of weeks ago that there are a number of players who I think can slide into the first team roster now and help spell certain players and give them a rest; I suspect Rennicks, Verfurth, Firmino, et al. would continue training, albeit with the first team in the run-up to the MLS Cup Playoffs, if they are allowed to. I think there are some players, like a Spaulding, a Maciel, a Presley, etc., who could, given time and further development, make their way to the first team. I think a good chunk remain with the second team and see how they do next year before making a full determination on if they will be a help to the MLS side.
A prediction: I think you’re going to see a number of Academy players signed to Homegrown contracts from now on who immediately go to Revs II. A number of MLS teams do this. Ask yourself this: Would this team have had problems scoring goals if it had started the season in March and Justin Rennicks was there for the whole, if not most of, this season? I doubt it.
We now go into hibernation for the second team until some time in January, we suspect, when the roster building for the 2021 edition of Los Revitos begins, and in March for the start of their second season in League One. As always, thanks for reading, and please consider subscribing to our Patreon to help us continue the work we’re doing.