New England Revolution

New England Revolution 2022 MLS season preview: Tactics, predicted XI, predictions

Chris Smith
Can the Revs build on their Supporters' Shield win? | Image: Matthew Burt.
Can the Revs build on their Supporters' Shield win? | Image: Matthew Burt. /

After a record-setting 2021, the New England Revolution are targeting further glory ahead of the new MLS season.

Although they crashed out of the Playoffs at the first hurdle, the Revs can be incredibly proud of winning their first-ever Supporters' Shield title with an MLS regular-season points record.

Though Bruce Arena has made slight adjustments to his roster, the 70-year-old's side are still armed to the teeth and well capable of an MLS Cup run.

Here's everything you need to know about the New England Revolution ahead of the new MLS season, including tactics, key players, and predictions.

How did New England Revolution perform in 2021?

The Revs won four or more consecutive games on three different occasions last season, while they didn't lose back-to-back games at all. That tells you everything you need to know about their unshakable consistency.

First, it was just a good start. Then it became about sealing their Playoff spot. Then, attention turned to winning the Supporters' Shield. And when that happened very quickly, all focus was on setting the regular-season points record.

The Revs were a juggernaut throughout the entire regular-season and by far the best attacking force. Unfortunately, Shield and MLS Cup doubles are rare, and Arena's side fell at the first hurdle in the Playoffs.

But the Revs are more than equipped to come back again, and are one of the best MLS hopes in this season's Concacaf Champions League.

New England Revolution transfer activity

Transfers in

  • Sebastian Lletget (from LA Galaxy, $500k)*
  • Jozy Altidore (from Toronto FC, free transfer)
  • Omar Gonzalez (from Toronto FC, free transfer)
  • Ryan Spaulding (from NE Revs II)
  • Noel Buck (from NE Revs II)
  • Ben Reveno (SuperDraft)
  • Jacob Jackson (SuperDraft)

* LA Galaxy will be paid another $800k if certain performance criteria are met.

Transfers out

  • Matt Turner (to Arsenal, $10m)*
  • Tajon Buchanan (to Club Brugge, $7m)
  • Teal Bunbury (to Nashville, $150k)
  • Scott Caldwell (to Real Salt Lake, free transfer)
  • Luis Caicedo (to Cortulua, free transfer)
  • Christian Mafla (to Deportivo Cali, free transfer)
  • Collin Verfurth (released)

*Matt Turner will join Arsenal in the summer.

Bruce Arena: Tactics and style of play

Bruce Arena mainly stuck to a 4-2-3-1 system last season. Center-backs Andrew Farrell and Henry Kessler - and this season, Omar Gonzalez - are primarily tasked with stopping the opposition and are shielded in front by two holding midfielders. This allows full-backs Brandon Bye and DeJuan Jones to push forward and provide width.

Last season, that solid central unit's main function was to free up the attacking quartet of Carles Gil, Gustavo Bou, Adam Buksa, and Tajon Buchanan. The four interchanged positions frequently, distorting the opposition backline and creating space for each other, while their movements centrally created even more space for the full-backs to get forward. With Buchanan leaving for Belgium, the dynamic may have to chance a little bit, while Jozy Altidore will come in and out of the side to provide more of an attacking focal point.

The Revs do leave space in behind thanks to their attacking nature and can often find themselves running back toward their own goal. But when you have so many weapons in your armory, is that such a bad thing?

New England Revolution predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Turner; Bye, Kessler, Farrell, Jones; Lletget, Kaptoum; Buksa, Gil, Bou; Altidore.

Who are New England Revolution's key players?

Carles Gil

The reigning MVP, Carles Gil enjoyed a stellar creative 2021 season for the Revs. Throughout the entire league, only Djordje Mihailovic (14) managed more primary assists (13) during the regular-season, while he was 38 clear in chances created (130), and fifth for successful dribbles (76). All while missing the whole of August with a muscle injury.

Whether it's through precision passing or dynamic dribbling, Gil isn't fussy. He'll slice and dice the opposition defense one way or another. The only criticism you can level at the Spaniard is that he doesn't score enough goals (he managed just four last season). But if he's supplying such reliable ammunition to Bou, Buksa, and now, Altidore, who really cares?

Gustavo Bou

If Gil is the maverick creator thrust into the limelight, Gustavo Bou is the foundational attacking piece who just does everything at an 8/10 level. The Argentine can score from all angles and hit 15 goals in the 2021 regular-season - just four short of Golden Boot-winner Taty Castellanos.

But he was also a real creative force with eight assists. His hold-up play is superb thanks to strength and skill, and Bou has an extremely high soccer IQ. Switch off for a second and Bou will punish you.

Sebastian Lletget

One of the only criticisms leveled at New England last season was that their midfield pairings were all a little too functional. Enter Sebastian Lletget.

The USMNT midfielder worked hard on adding a few more goals to his game last season and while he does bring plenty of industry, he'll also be in charge of driving the ball forward to unbalance the opposition.

Competition in the US midfield is getting heated, so Lletget needs a big year back under the tutelage of Bruce Arena.

New England Revolution 2022 season prediction

The only way the Revs can really top 2021 is by winning MLS Cup or becoming the league's first team to win CCL. But then, they don't really need to 'top' last season, do they?

Finishing high in the East and going a little further in the Playoffs will prove they're genuinely cut out to hang with the best in MLS, and that's exactly what they'll do.

Prediction: 2nd in the Eastern Conference