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New England Revolution vs. Real Salt Lake — three questions with The Bent Musket

RSL are on the road against the Revs and The Bent Musket answer some of our burning questions

MLS: Real Salt Lake at New England Revolution David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake head to Foxborough, Massachusetts to take on the New England Revolution. The Revs in the 7th and final playoff spot in the east, but have struggled in their last few games. RSL are fighting for every point in hopes to stay in the playoffs and keep a shot at a home game. We reached out to Jake Catanese at the Bent Musket to get an update on the Revs:

The New England Revolution are winless in their last three games – what do they need to do in order to get a win against RSL and what went wrong in those matches?

I’m actually going to go a bit further back than just this month, the Revs are on a 1W-2L-4D stretch since the beginning of August and are averaging a point a game. Thankfully, no one else in the East wants to finish 7th either, so the Revs haven’t really been closed down by anyone but they haven’t separated themselves from the pack either, and they should have at this point. I’m not going to get into the losses much, losing 2-0 to LAFC at home is understandable and I don’t want to get angry again by bringing up a 10-man loss on an overturned VAR red card to NYC.

But there are two road draws that stand out, at Seattle and at Orlando the Revs had early leads and weren’t able to hang on and convert wins. This has been an ongoing issue for New England the past few years as the Revs have struggled to close out games. This is really an attacking team at heart, and sitting back and protecting leads hasn’t been a strong suit. That said, New England did salvage a couple of late draws, including that Seattle game, with goals in the final minutes. The hope is next year those late equalizers will turn into late winners.

As far as getting a win against RSL, this is by far the easiest game left on the Revs schedule and that is not an insult to RSL, it’s just the rest of the year is a brutal stretch for New England. Games at Portland and Atlanta will not be easy to get points and a home match vs NYC who is absolutely streaking right now means this is a must win for the Revs. They need to score early and quite frankly often to put this one away, instead of trying to hang on to a one goal lead and the return of Teal Bunbury to full fitness I think could be the missing piece New England has lacked the past few games while he’s been out.

How has Bruce Arena changed things over Brad Friedel’s time as manager? What are the biggest positives and negatives of having Arena as the head coach?

I think for the first time in a long time the Revolution front office finally did something that made the rest of the league go - uh oh. Arena immediately brings a certain level of respect and confidence to a team and simply by jettisoning Friedel the Revs were clearly a different team. But by adding Arena on top of that you can see just how a simple organization and team formation can turn around a struggling team. Arena is the perfect coach for New England at this point in time because the Revs are still stuck in the MLS 1.0 days, which Arena brought the Galaxy out of with Beckham and Donovan a decade ago. With New England looking to start a full USL League One team, the Revs look prepared to make a massive jump at multiple levels of the organization which has been long overdue.

The Revs have five players who’ve scored five or more goals, but no one has yet to break into the double digits this season. Is it a strength of the team that multiple players are scoring, or would you prefer to see one more prolific goal scorer in the squad? Who does RSL need to watch out for most?

I think having multiple goal scorers is a feature and not a bug. New England has long employed a scoring by committee approach and have seen great years from Diego Fagundez, Lee Nguyen, Charlie Davies and Teal Bunbury among others in front of goal. Now New England has a top scoring/playmaking combo in Gustavo Bou and Carles Gil and Bou in particular has been on fire since joining the team midsummer with 7 goals and 1 assist in just 10 league games. As of now, Bou looks to be that prolific scorer the Revs have sorely lacked, but that doesn’t mean teams can just focus on Bou or Gil to stop the Revs. I would say in the short term though, clogging the middle and limiting Gil seems to be the way to force New England out of their comfort zone. Also, limit the counters the Revs can break out on - I maintain this is one of MLS’ best countering teams but they simply don’t try to do it enough.

Once New England settles in this offseason, I think you’re going to see a very dangerous and very versatile attacking team. Bou might end up topping the scoring charts along with Gil leading in assists, but you’re still going to see a lot of different players chipping in on the scoresheet as well.

You can read our responses to Jake’s questions at the Bent Musket.