The New England Revolution are makin' moves again.
A few days after the start of the Secondary Transfer Window, the Revs acquired winger Kekuta Manneh from FC Cincinnati and midfielder Tommy McNamara from the Houston Dynamo in separate trades. Midfielder Wilfried Zahibo was sent to Houston as part of the Tommy Mac package, while Manneh came at the cost of a 2020 international slot.
Manneh and McNamara join Matt Polster as the club's three key additions this summer, as New England reload for the second half of the season. They moves come in the shadow of talisman, and reigning MLS Newcomer of the Year, Carles Gil undergoing surgery that may have ended his season. If he does pull on a Revs jersey again in 2020, it won't be for roughly three months (at least), so they'll have to figure out life without the Spaniard for a bit.
Here's how those new moves will fit in.
Manneh and Tommy Mac: Gil replacements, veteran additions or both?
It's no secret: Bruce Arena generally prefers to rely on veterans.
That's not a binary tendency, of course. He doesn't disregard young players (hello, Henry Kessler) but a constant with his trophy-laden LA Galaxy squads is that they had a ton of vets. McNamara and Manneh further sprinkle experienced MLSers into the attacking rotation. They also offer two different options to take some of the minutes vacated by Gil. Manneh is a dynamic attacker eager to get in behind, while McNamara's ability to threaten the goal from distance stretches opposition defenses in different ways.
In the club's final game at the MLS is Back Tournament, Arena stuck with the 4-2-3-1 with Gustavo Bou playing free underneath traditional forward Adam Buksa while Cristian Penilla and Tajon Buchanan on either wing. Sticking with a 4-2-3-1, Manneh and McNamara seamlessly join the list of options, while Teal Bunbury will figure heavily in the squad as well.
Long-time Revs midfielder Diego Fagundez should get more chances, too. In Gil's absence, Arena won't be short on combinations to tinker with in attack around the Buska-Bou foundation. But it will be those two men up top who shoulder most of the pressure to lead the way, rather than Gil's direct replacements.
Matt Polster's importance highlighted
A versatile player who can play either right back or defensive mid, Polster was brought to New England with the plan to spend his minutes as a No. 6. The Revs dealing Zahibo to Houston removes any doubts about where Polster will play, and their confidence in the former Rangers man.
With Luis Caicedo (right knee surgery) out for the season and Zahibo gone, New England aren't incredibly deep for the "2" line of that 4-2-3-1. Polster joins Scott Caldwell and Kelyn Rowe as expected primary options. Perhaps Fagundez gets a run out as the No. 8 in the midfield pairing, too.
Polster was far from a regular with Glasgow Rangers and injuries limited his final season in MLS, making just three appearances with the Fire in 2018. He's had a while to train and continue to get his fitness, though, and should be good to go from the jump this week.