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Massive Scouting Report: New England Revolution

What to know about the Black & Gold’s opponent./

MLS: Inter Miami CF at New England Revolution Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

After a 3-0 dismantling of D.C. United at Lower.com field, the Columbus Crew hit the road to take on defending Supporters’ Shield winners New England Revolution on Saturday. The Revs enter after a comfortable 2-0 win at home against Inter Miami.

New England started the season slowly due to CONCACAF Champions League run that complicated both the team’s preseason and the beginning of its regular season. The Revs look to win two in a row in league play for the first time all season. The Crew will be looking to prove the team can compete with the league’s best.

Here’s what to look for Saturday night.

New England Revolution at a Glance:

Record: 3-1-5, 10 points

League Form: W-L-W-L-L

Leading Scorer: Adam Buksa, Carles Gil (3)

Assist Leader: Carles Gil (4)

Player to Watch: Carles Gil

This is a no-brainer. The reigning league MVP is an important person for the Black & Gold to keep an eye on. Gil was voted MVP last year after racking up four goals and 13 assists and has carried that form into the 2022 campaign as he already has three goals and four assists in all competitions.

After joining the Revs in 2019, Gil has found his way in MLS and quickly made a name for himself. Known for his passing ability and attacking third prowess, Gil has free reign in the midfield for New England with the ability to drift from side to side and front to back to find space to attack. This movement, in addition to his ability to wiggle away from pressure, makes Gil one of the hardest players to track in the league. Columbus has a decent record defending Gil and will need to do a good job again on Saturday in order to take all three points from this match.

How New England Revolution Play:

Head coach Bruce Arena’s team seems5 to be slowly awakening after the CCL. In order to do so, the Revs are sticking to what led them to the highest points total in MLS history last year. While the formation can change between a 4-4-2 diamond and 4-2-3-1, the principles are the same for Arena’s men.

Defensively, New England looks to press high up the pitch and make the opponent uncomfortable. However, once the opponent breaks that pressure, New England is quick to recover and get into a compact shape behind the ball. When the Revs win the ball back, they will look to counter attack quickly. If they’re unable to do so, New England will look to maintain possession and push their outside backs high up the field to provide width for their attack. While this happens, the Revolution wingers pinch inside to try to create overloads in the middle channel. This is remarkably similar to what the Crew does with Pedro Santos and Steven Moreira.

How the Crew can win:

This match provides a great test for the Black & Gold. The Crew is trying to rebound after a difficult month of April and this is a test against potential title challengers in New England.

Caleb Porter specifically mentioned his team’s ability to stay compact defensively as a key point moving forward in his pre-match press conference. Not only does this limit the space the opponent has to play in but it also allows Columbus to control the tempo of the match. By controlling when and where the defensive pressure comes from, the Black & Gold are able to better dictate the areas in which their opponents are forced to play the ball.

When done successfully, the Crew is often able to swarm these areas and successfully win the ball back. In addition to the advantage it provides in winning the ball back, it also allows Columbus to control the speed in which the match is played. When the Black & Gold defends in a mid-block, it limits the pace at which the opponent can play, as the Crew is harder to break down defensively.

When Columbus presses high up the field, it causes the opponent to play faster. While speeding up your opponent can be a good thing, the Crew is far more suited to play at a slow methodical pace. If the Black & Gold can remain compact on defense and slow down the tempo of the game, it will put them in a good spot in this match.

Gil is so good he needs to be mentioned twice. The reigning league MVP is terrorizing MLS this year after a full season of domination in 2021. Columbus midfielder Darlington Nagbe mentioned how important it will be to keep Gil off the ball in this match. In order to do so, the Columbus backline and midfielders will need to do an excellent job of tracking Gil’s movement and communicating it to their teammates.

In addition to the midfielders and defenders, the Black & Gold will need their wingers to do an excellent job of tracking back to help contain Gil. Since Gil often drifts out wide, the Crew wingers will need to be ready to drop in and support their outside backs defensively. It won’t be pretty or fun for any member of Columbus, but limiting Gil is crucial to the Black & Gold’s chances Saturday.

Another important aspect of the game plan according to Porter is getting players running vertically behind the backline. The matches the Crew has been consistently dangerous in attack has all featured consistent runners behind the backline. Whether it be wingers, strikers or outside backs, Columbus needs this ability to get in behind in order to put pressure on the defense. This forces the defense to choose to either eliminate space in behind and open up space in the midfield by dropping off, or step and run the risk of a Crew attacker beating the offsides trap.