Armchair Analyst: One big question for the New England Revolution

A Big Question: Do they have the horses to press?

There are a lot of big questions surrounding the Revs, who were one of the league's worst teams from May onwards – basically 3/4s of the year. Do they have a go-to goalscorer? Do they have a real playmaker? Can Cristian Penilla reprise his excellent debut season? Will any of their signings work out?

I'd argue, however, that their biggest question is the one I posed above because "we're going to press them and turn defense into offense" is supposed to be the answer for a team that lacks top-end attacking talent.

“If you win the ball back high up the pitch and you are close to the goal, it is only one pass away a really good opportunity most of the time. No playmaker in the world can be as good as a good counter-pressing situation.”

That quote, from Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (current High Lord of the Cult of Gegenpressing), neatly explains the philosophy. As Klopp's Liverpool have showed, and – for an MLS touchpoint – as RBNY showed in their record-setting 2018 regular season, a good press is a good way to win a lot of games.

But sometimes even the best press breaks down, and when that happens you need defenders who can put out fires in the open field. That was a struggle for New England:

Watch that play again. Michael Mancienne – the league's highest-paid center back – has a good 15-yard lead on Nick Besler, the eventual goalscorer. Besler blows past him like Mancienne isn't even there.

New England have spent a lot of money on their backline in recent years (more than anybody else in the league, as a matter of fact). In so doing they may have constructed a roster of guys who can't play the way they want, or maybe even need to play.

If the answer to "do they have the horses to press?" is "no," then this season is not about having a plan and executing it. It'll be about scrambling to find an ad hoc solution and hoping it's enough of a band-aid to prevent a fourth straight playoff-less season.

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