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Massive Scouting Report: Crew vs Revolution

A pair of MLS originals prepare for a Week 2 battle in Foxboro

MLS: Columbus Crew at New England Revolution Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

After a week one draw against Eastern Conference foe, New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew SC travel to New England to battle the Revolution.

What to know about the New England Revolution...
Led by former U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeping star, Brad Friedel, the Revs possess a potent attack and ironically a feeble defense. Newly acquired attacking midfielder, Carles Gil is expected to quarterback the 2019 squad offensively. And while he is more synonymous for his creativity and distribution, he tallied the game-tying goal in his MLS debut, earning New England a hard-fought point on the road versus FC Dallas last Saturday. The defense is expected to improve, with the offseason acquisition of left back, Edgar Castillo from the Colorado Rapids. The Revolution will also have the advantage of having team captain, Michael Mancienne, for the duration of the season. He was signed last August and started 10 of the 11 games he was on the roster. An entire offseason to get up to speed should be a boost for the backline.

Key Offseason Acquisitions
Carles Gil (Transfer)
Edgar Castillo (Via Trade)
Juan Fernando Caicedo (On Loan)

Key Offseason Departures
Chris Tierney (Retired)
Claude Dielna (Contract Declined)
Kelyn Rowe (Traded)

Players to Watch
M - Carles Gil #22: The Revs new maestro will be spearheading the New England attack. Look for him to dish passes both near and far to his runaway teammates.

F - Cristian Penilla #70: The left-footed winger led New England in goals scored and shots on goal last year. Is a repeat campaign in store for 2019? Only time will tell.

F - Diego Fagúndez #14: The talented Homegrown player has expressed interest in departing the Revolution when his contract expires next year. In the meantime, he is as deadly as anyone on the roster. With nine goals and 10 assists in 2018, expect more of the same from Diego in 2019.

F - Juan Fernando Caicedo #9: His current fitness level is lacking, but he could certainly make an appearance in the second half as a super sub. The Colombian has bagged double-digit goal campaigns in three different seasons over his 10 professional years.

F – Teal Bunbury #10: Bunbury was second on the team in goals last season and is expected to see a bump up in his production with the arrival of Gil. He is capable with feet and even in the air.

Starting XI versus FC Dallas (Week 1)

Three key components were absent from the Revolution’s starting XI versus FC Dallas. Center back and captain, Michael Mancienne came up lame in pre-game warmups and missed the match with a lower back injury. We may see him in the tilt versus Columbus, as he is listed day-to-day on the injury report. Also listed as day-to-day is Colombian midfielder, Juan Fernando Caicedo, who is on loan and expected to make an impact on the goalscoring sheet this season. Revs veteran defender, Andrew Farrell also missed the opening match and is expected to be out until April with a mysterious eye injury.

It is anticipated that we will see both Mancienne and Caicedo in some capacity this weekend. Caicedo likely coming off the bench and Mancienne inserted to the starting lineup.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly
Good: The Revolution know who they are, and they make no bones about it. Friedel has crafted quite the identity in Boston. New England will press, counter and play very physical. I reiterate the “very physical” comment.

Bad: They give up goals in bunches, particularly during the last half of the 2018 season. The aforementioned Mancienne was acquired in August of last season, with the intent to mitigate the goal hemorrhaging.

Ugly: Remember when I mentioned that the Revs are very physical? They led the league in fouls last year. And they picked up this season right where they left off, committing 24 fouls against Dallas. That is quite the jump, in comparison with the rest of the league averaging a mere 15 per game.

The Crew succeed if….
The Crew succeed if they learn from the trials and tribulations of their Red Bulls matchup in Week 1. The Revs play a similar style as New York, though less frantic, so the Black & Gold should have a better grasp on how to combat such a high-pressing style. The Crew should anticipate a physical affair with a multitude of bumps and bruises for the journey back to Columbus.

The Crew succeed if the fullback duo of Waylon Francis and Harrison Afful are more involved. The Red Bulls mostly nullified both outside backs last Saturday. Head coach Caleb Porter is adamant that his wingers and outside backs stretch out the opposition. Francis and Afful are both more than equipped to accomplish such a task.

The Crew succeed if a Gyasi Zardes shot finds the back of the net. Plain and simple. Columbus lost a paltry two games in all of 2018 when Gyasi Zardes scored a goal.

Key Matchup
Carles Gil vs Artur & Wil Trapp
Can Trapp and Artur work as a dynamic duo and shut down Gil? Will the partnership begin to find its rhythm under Porter’s tweaked system? If the answer is yes to either or both of these questions, the Crew will have a favorable advantage in New England.