Warshaw: What Gustavo Bou brings to the revitalized New England Revolution

Already on an eight-game unbeaten streak (4-0-4) in the last two months...

Two points from the playoff line...

Now adding a potential top-10 striker...

Yeah, the New England Revolution are intent on shaking up the Eastern Conference order.

On July 10, the Revs announced the signing of Gustavo Bou from Club Tijuana in Mexico as a Designated Player. The deal involved a reported $6-7 million dollar transfer fee. 

Bou gets his first chance to make a statement on Wednesday, as the Revs host Vancouver at Gillette Stadium (7 pm ET | TSN 1/3 — Full TV & streaming info).

The 29-year-old is most expensive signing in Revs history, and one of the two biggest acquisitions they’ve ever made. The last time they moved the needle this much, when signing Jermaine Jones in 2014, they marched to MLS Cup. Jones, Charlie Davies, Lee Nguyen & Co. had Gillette Stadium rocking.

Bou joins after scoring 21 goals and contributing 14 assists in 55 games for Club Tijuana. As points of reference, three recent high-profile Liga MX-to-MLS moves include Maxi Moralez, Raul Ruidiaz and Brian Fernandez. You know how those have worked out. There’s a very good track record for these types of moves in recent years (though it’s worth noting that Eric “Cubo” Torres didn’t pan out quite as well).

A quick scouting report on the Revs' new DP:

  • He can play center forward, attacking midfielder/second striker, or left wing. His skillset would probably also work at right wing, but he’s only done it a couple times in his career as far I can find.
  • In general, Bou is a crafty player. Goal.com writer Jon Arnold, who covers Liga MX, used the word “sneaky” when we chatted about the Argentine. Bou is not overpowering or particularly graceful; rather, he’s smart and unpredictable.
  • He likes when defenders get too aggressive to his back; he’s always aware of where the defender is, and always thinking about how he can take advantage of the defender’s aggressiveness.
  • He’s excellent at reading a defender’s balance and momentum. When a defender starts to lean one direction, Bou likes to flick the ball the other way or step on the ball and head the other direction.
  • The former River Plate striker has average speed. I would say his pace is similar to Juan Agudelo’s. They have enough pace to keep defenders honest, but not enough to run by anyone.
  • Bou has a quick release on his shot, and decent power. He doesn’t need much space, or much reason, to fire a shot. His shots tend to be hit with his laces rather than curlers.
  • He’s spent most of the past two years playing on synthetic turf at Tijuana’s Estadio Caliente, so he should be able to acclimate quickly to the surface at Gillette.

I’d be surprised if Arena changes anything about the way the team plays. The Revs have become flexible, switching back and forth between 4-4-2 and 4-2-3-1 systems depending on the opponent.

Bou could slot into one of the two striker roles or either wing, with the left wing being the more likely of the two. He isn’t a specific type of player with any unique traits that requires a specific system. He’s a generally good, well-rounded attacker who can play within a variety of styles.

My best guess is that Arena gives both Juan Fernando Caicedo and Teal Bunbury a chance to win the second spot next to Bou.

What does this mean for the Eastern Conference standings?

The glass half-full scenario for the Revs: Bou puts an already solid team over the top. He links up with Carles Gil in the same way Lucho Acosta and Wayne Rooney lit the league on fire in 2018. It’s not a matter of whether the Revs make the playoffs, but whose spot they take.

The glass half-empty scenario: The Revs had been catching teams by surprise and taking advantage of the complacency. They were over-performing their ability because everyone underestimated them. No one will overlook the Revs now. When you bring in a player for that amount of money, you put a target on your back. Bou doesn’t just make the Revs better, he gives an emotional boost to their opponents. In the end, the Revs don’t have enough to pass Orlando, Toronto or Montreal.

Regardless, it’s a watershed moment for New England. This isn’t just about 2019; it’s about setting groundwork, both in terms of a roster and a standard of ambition, moving forward.

Forget whatever you thought of the Revs before. It’s a new era.

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