The all-conquering Supporters’ Shield campaign in 2021 has felt like a long time ago for most New England Revolution fans this year. From breaking the record for the most points in an MLS season to possibly finishing third-from-bottom in the Eastern Conference, the Revs’ season has been a case of poor roster reshuffling, mixed results, and a number of lapses in judgment on the pitch. Check out SinkorSwimSports as we delve into why New England have been so bad in 2022.
A Record-Breaking 2021
Sporting Director and Head Coach Bruce Arena led New England to the highest MLS points tally in 2021, with the Revolution recording 73 regular-season points. The first Shield win in twenty-six-year history playing in Major League Soccer, the side won 22 of their 34 matches played in the regular season and only lost twice at home all campaign.
On the back of 16 and 15 goals from Adam Buksa and Gustavo Bou respectively, the Revolution’s 65 goals scored to put them seven clear of their nearest rival. Carles Gil won the MLS 2021 MVP award for the season, with his 18 assists making him the most prolific playmaker in the division. In all, four Revolution players were named in the 2021 MLS Best XI for the season.
The team were knocked out of the 2021 MLS Cup playoffs in the Conference semifinals at the hands of eventual winners New York City, but it was still a campaign to remember for Bruce Arena and co.
“Shot Ourselves In The Foot”
At the time of writing, New England Revolution sit in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, four points and four places off the playoff spots having played a game more. In short, there’s not a whole lot left on offer apart from pride at this point.
The question most MLS fans have been left wondering is: why have the Revs been so bad in 2022?
For starters, the fact the team have dropped the most points from winning positions in the MLS this season (29) is huge. Add those 29 points on top of the 38 the Revs have accrued this season, and the team would be clear of league leaders LAFC by three points.
“If you go through the season, the number of games we’ve actually blown, just screwed up, is incredible. We’ve shot ourselves in the foot.”
The team have also conceded the most penalties in the MLS this season, with referees pointing to the spot twelve times in 2022. For context, the side conceded just three penalties throughout 2021. Goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic might have saved four of those spot-kicks, but that ill-discipline on the pitch is certainly synonymous with a side that have lost their structure and organization this campaign.
Dealing With Departures
As often happens with MLS success stories, the Revolution have had to pay the price for success by seeing a number of their key players depart the club this season. USMNT Goalkeeper Matt Turner has joined Arsenal, Adam Buksa (still the club’s leading goalscorer in 2022) left for Lens in June, and Tajon Buchanan’s transfer to Club Brugge has rounded the transfer fees received up to $24 million.
Only Bou and Gil remain from the team’s 2021 designated player slots.
Whilst the departure of such a strong-looking spine would hurt any MLS side, the Revs have also seen a number of their incoming replacements struggle. Jozy Altidore was drafted in at the start of the New England Revolution’s 2022 MLS schedule but was packed off to Club Puebla in July.
Sebastian Lletget is another designated player to have arrived but moved on again in 2022, whilst signings Giacomo Vrioni, Dylan Borrero, and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi have all been plagued by injuries and seen their minutes on the pitch evaporate.
Reassessing The Standards
Prior to the 2021 season, New England’s last full Major League Soccer campaign (2019) ended with the side in 14th with 45 points. In 2018, the team finished 16th with 41. These numbers showcase both how much of an overperformance the Supporters’ Shield season was, but also how 2022 has been a bit of a return to the status quo for the Revs.
Given the team’s history in Major League Soccer and the upheavals they’ve had to deal with throughout the season, a drop-off from the record-breaking 2021 campaign always looked on the cards. However, to miss out on a playoff spot is undoubtedly a blow Bruce Arena wouldn’t haven’t expected. For the 70-year-old, a solid auction in the offseason is going to be crucial in the side hitting the refresh button ahead of the 2023 season.
“The players have been fine. We’ve just not been able to field our team this year. I thought last year we played well over our heads and I think some of our players never understood what made them successful last year, and it caught up with them a little bit.”
New England Revolution 2022 Stats
- The Revolution have averaged 1.38 goals and 1.50 goals against per game in 2022.
- The team averaged 1.19 points per game in 2022, down from 2.15 in 2021.
- The Revs only recorded consecutive wins once throughout the 2022 season (vs. Orlando and D.C. in August).
- Carles Gil has managed 7 goals and 8 assists for the Revs in 2022. With 31 appearances, he is averaging 0.49 goals+assists per ninety.
- Djordje Petrovic made 73 saves with a clean sheet percentage of 36.8%. In all, Matt Turner finished 2021 with a clean sheet percentage of just 17.9%.
- The Revs’ average squad age in 2021 was 26.6 years. In 2022, that has risen to 27.9 years.
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