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New England Revolution start 2023 off on the right foot

After a year that saw Bruce Arena’s Revolution side miss the playoffs only a season removed from winning MLS’ Supporters’ Shield, questions were bound to be raised in regards to the on-field product. Those questions were answered emphatically this past weekend thanks to the Revs thoroughly beating Charlotte FC in front of a sold-out crowd on the road, 1-0. Henry Kessler’s goal in the 88th minute saved two extra points for the Revs and only added to his praise after locking down the Royals’ ever-dangerous attacking front for a full 90 minutes.

Andrew Farrell, whose constant presence in the backline each year has been nearly a guarantee, was forced to miss the season opener as he nurses himself back from a lower-body injury incurred in a preseason match. As a result, Kessler was paired up with newly acquired MLS veteran CB Dave Romney. The former LA Galaxy and Nashville SC man was brought onboard as one of the first front-office moves this offseason for a ridiculously modest price of $525k in General Allocation Money (GAM).

Gustavo Bou was unable to be with the team as well, as his green card status had been in limbo for the better part of the offseason. Just last week his green card was granted to him, and “La Pantera” has been in the process of making his way to New England to begin training. As Bou will be joining a group that has had an entire preseason to train already, there’s surely going to be some rust he’ll need to shake off before he can begin challenging Giacomo Vrioni for the starting striker spot.

Early on in the match against Charlotte, 17-year-old Noel Buck made his presence known in the midfield, running the show and pulling the strings alongside Matt Polster and Carles Gil like a seasoned veteran would. On the flanks, DeJuan Jones continued to link up with prolific Colombian winger Dylan Borrero, making life difficult for Charlotte FC right back Nathan Byrne.

Gil was given the role of captain yet again this year and did what he does best in the middle of park. The 2021 MLS MVP award winner was the metronome for any offensive rush New England put forward, doubling up as the conductor for each and every attack up the pitch. Gil will certainly be looking to improve on a season where his assist numbers fell from 14 to 9, and hopefully return both the team and himself back to the form that saw them top the league only a few years prior. 

New England newcomer Latif Blessing did not feature, but former USMNT forward Bobby Wood managed to make his way onto the field for the later portion of the night. The 30-year-old striker appeared much more lively than he had the previous season at Real Salt Lake and is poised to replace Jozy Altidore as the definitive bench piece behind Vrioni and Bou. 

Djordje Petrovic put together a massively solid showing en route to his first clean sheet of the season, reprising his role as one of the premier shot-stoppers in the entire league. The Serbian netminder’s play upon arrival in New England just before the midway point last season was stellar enough to earn him some votes for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, and on a larger scale, the watchful eye of Manchester United. Reports have emerged from various sources that the Red Devils among other top-flight European clubs have already begun keeping tabs on the 23-year-old, possibly signaling a big money transfer on the horizon.

The Revolution will look to take advantage of this strong start to the year when they welcome the Houston Dynamo to Gillette Stadium on Saturday, March 4.

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