It is game day here in Frisco and while we still have a ways to go before the start of tonight’s FC Dallas game against the New England Revolution, we have brought in a fellow SBN blog, The Bent Musket, to help us preview tonight’s match.
Here are our questions for them below and you can find out answers to their questions at the link above.
BDS: New England has started off the season pretty strongly, including their record at home. What has been the difference to begin this season compared to previous years?
TBM: There’s so many little things that separate this New England team from seasons past, but a lot of that boils down to this is by far the most talented and deepest roster the Revolution have had in the DP era. Whether it’s Adam Buksa or Gustavo Bou up top as a lone striker, any number of winger pairings combining Arnor Traustatson, Tajon Buchanan, Tommy McNamara, or Teal Bunbury, Matt Polster has had a few partners in holding midfield as well with Maciel, Tommy Mac, and Wilfrid Kaptoum, and a backline that’s been able to rotate in young center backs Henry Kessler and Jon Bell - the Revs just keep winning. Bruce Arena has been able to push all the right buttons so far with his starting lineup (aside from the 4-4-2 that lost at Nashville) and being able to rely on that depth throughout the regular season is going to be invaluable during the playoffs.
In years past, some of these Revs matches could have likely been draws or worse. Just midweek the Revs could have easily conceded a third equalizing goal to RBNY but didn’t, they found ways to score second half goals against Columbus and Cincy for a pair of 1-0 wins. I think what truly separates this team is their ability to find wins, not just results. This is the beginning of a stretch of mostly road games for New England so by the end of July after the Revs play 5 of their next 7 on the road, we should know just how good this team is.
BDS: Carles Gil has been an MVP so far this season as well. How does one stop him? Seriously, we’re asking for a friend.
TBM: A magician never reveals his secrets. Carles Gil is a magician, plain and simple. What he does on the ball individually is amazing but some of the assists he’s had this year have been absolutely world-class. There was a stretch of games towards the end of last year where Gil was deployed as an in-cutting right winger/midfielder and the Revs found playoff success with that system thanks to Tajon Buchanan’s speed overlapping from the fullback spot. But it’s pretty clear that Gil is an out and out #10 central playmaker and for the past couple of months that’s where he’s been and the team has thrived around him.
As for how do you stop Gil? I can’t help you guys here. Carles is pretty much effective to downright dominant in all attacking styles from the possession/build-up, to countering, and especially on set pieces. If there is a weakness to the Revs, it is their team finishing as a whole - early on it wasn’t all that great. The Revs boast exactly one multi-goal win so far this year and that was against a 10-man RBNY team and aren’t great at finding those insurance goals to put away games. As a whole, it’s possible the Revs haven’t yet played a complete 90-minute game which is a scary thought for the rest of the league. Gil however rarely takes a minute off and is always making those around him better so I wish you guys the best of luck in figuring out how to take Gil out of the game.
BDS: Since FCD fans haven’t seen the Revs since 2019, who are some new faces that we need to know of here?
TBM: There’s a few MLS veterans that have joined up in the past year or so. Matt Polster was a steadying presence at holding midfield last year joining midseason and really plugging the hole left by Luis Caicedo’s season-ending injury in 2020 and has been an absolute force so far in 2021. Tommy McNamara has inherited the role of utility midfielder and scored a late winner against his former NYCFC squad. Youngster Maciel was a standout in the preseason and made the jump from Revs II to the first team and has proven to be a capable option both as a starter and off the bench next to Polster. Ema Boateng has been limited by injuries a bit but I really like him as a bench option/spot starter because just the thought of bringing on Boateng, Bunbury, and Tommy Mac to help press and close out games is simply terrifying to me and I’m rooting for this team. AJ DeLaGarza is the utility defender but has only featured once so far this year but I’m glad he reunited with Bruce Arena and can help out this young backline behind the scenes.
Internationally, I don’t think Dallas has seen either of the Revs DP strikers in Gustavo Bou or Adam Buksa. Bou is the more speedy/poacher type while Buksa is a traditional #9 target man and while the Revs haven’t figured out a great way to get them both on the field as starters, they’ve both been effective so far this year with four goals apiece. Arnor Traustason was supposed to be a playmaking option on the left wing opposite Carles Gil before he moved into the middle, but he’s proven to be a solid two-way player and had a two assist game against RBNY in the first matchup. Wilfrid Kaptoum came through Barcelona’s academy system but minor injuries have kept him from solidifying a starting spot in the midfield next to Polster but from what little we have seen he’s a capable player. You’ve probably heard of youngsters Tajon Buchanan, DeJuan Jones, Henry Kessler, and Jon Bell who are all draft picks (Bell via SJ/Revs II) and have been stalwarts in the lineup this year.
Injuries: CDM Luis Caicedo (OUT), LB Christian Mafla (OUT)
4-2-3-1: Turner; D. Jones, Kessler, Farrell, Bye; Kaptoum*, Polster; Traustason, Gil, Buchanan; Bou
The asterisk for Kaptoum depends on his availability, he’s not on the injury list but he hasn’t been on the bench for the last two games either. With a midweek game, trying to predict any squad rotation might be tricky, but the basic formation will be there. Could Buksa perhaps spell the in-form Bou up top, sure? There’s probably not a wrong answer of who to play next to Polster and if Kaptoum isn’t 100%, Maciel probably would be in line for the start.
As far as how this match will play out...well the Revs are very much in form and FCD is not. I don’t want to hear any rumblings of a trap game or that stuff. If the Revs are the Supporter’s Shield contenders we think they are up here in New England, they should win this game. Mark down Carles Gil for two more assists in a 3-1 victory.