3 takeaways from the Revolution’s 2-0 loss against the Sounders

New England Revolution

Limited by injuries, New England was unable to find a breakthrough in Seattle.

Esmir Bajraktarevic New England Revolution
Esmir Bajraktarevic during the Revolution’s 2-0 defeat to the Sounders. Via MLS/New England Revolution

The Revolution lost to the Sounders 2-0 in Seattle on Saturday night, ending a busy three-game week on a down note.

Mitigating factors aside — and in the circumstances, there were several — it marked New England’s second defeat in three games played in the span of just eight days. An early goal from Seattle forward Jordan Morris and a late strike from teammate Albert Rusnák separated the two sides on a night when both attacks were fairly limited.

For the Revolution, the outcome was a disappointment given how even parts of the game looked. This being MLS (the league of perpetually tight margins) the final result was far from a foregone conclusion.

Still, facing a difficult road environment without several key players served to further emphasize what is already known: New England’s depth is spread far too thin, and is in need of reinforcement.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6d6NKncwBsE

Here are a few takeaways:

The injury crisis is curtailing the season turnaround.

Representative of the current Revolution injury crisis was the pregame news that winger Dylan Borrero was a late scratch from the lineup due to several lingering issues. Returning in 2024 from a torn ACL suffered a year ago, Borrero is clearly still working his way back to full fitness.

Even when it appeared that New England would have at least one of its dynamic attackers in the lineup, the injury bug struck again at the worst time.

“I’m shocked that he had to come out, but he’s kind of struggling with a few little [things] – tight groins, hips, hamstrings,” Porter admitted after the game. “I think a lot of it is just coming back from being a year out of major, major surgery and injury. It’s just been difficult for him. A part of that, too, is again, we don’t have depth, so we’re trying to work him in. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have played him at all, but we had no one [else] to rotate into this game.”

As the Revolution coach noted, New England is facing far more than just Borrero’s injury at the moment. Scanning the MLS injury report, Porter’s squad currently has 10 players listed, more than any other team in the league.

The game was the third in a row without captain and playmaker-in-chief Carles Gil, who was ruled out again due to a “lower leg” injury. Porter said he hopes to have Gil back in training next week. Without him, the Revolution have coped fairly well, and have been arguably better than at other periods in his New England career when injured (the 2020 regular season was bleak by comparison).

Yet the reality is the team is 1-2 in that time, and asking 19-year-old academy graduate Esmir Bajraktarevic to fill in for the former league MVP is a tall task.

That said, Bajraktarevic looked the part at times.

He produced arguably the Revolution’s best chance in the 35th minute, cutting by three Seattle defenders (resulting in a timely double-save from Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei). But he was also held largely in check throughout the second half, and completed just 74 percent of his passes — testament to his inconsistent contributions.

Given the fairly even nature of most of the game, it’s an intriguing (though ultimately pointless) exercise to contemplate how things might have been different had the Revolution had a more complete array of players available. Had New England been able to field Gil and Borrero, the visitors might have been able to leverage parts of the game (especially the end of the first half) to create actual goals instead of just forcing a few stray saves from Frei.

As the Vrioni turns …

Each week, especially in games without Gil, Borrero, and Tomas Chancalay (who, as a reminder, is out for the season with a partially torn ACL), the performance of striker Giacomo Vrioni has become arguably the single most important factor in determining if the Revolution get a result or not.

Vrioni, New England’s only Designated Player currently not carrying an injury, has produced a few performances in recent weeks that have come close to justifying his roster status as one of the team’s central figures. He has two multi-goal games over the last month, both of which ended as 2-1 wins for the Revolution.

He’s followed both of those performances with disappointing games. After rising to the occasion with the deciding goals in the win over Cincinnati on June 22, he totaled six shots but failed to score in a 5-1 loss against Columbus on June 29 despite having multiple great chances.

And after another two-goal show in the 2-1 win over Atlanta on Wednesday, he delivered another off-night in the loss vs. Seattle. No one attempted more shots in the game (four) and compiled a higher xG (expected goals) with 0.53. Yet he was again held scoreless.

It’s impossible to ask any player not named Lionel Messi to simply score in every game in MLS, and the injury list (practically a tome at this point) means that too much is currently being asked of Vrioni. But the simple reality remains: When Vrioni plays well and scores, the Revolution currently tend to win. When he doesn’t, they lose (making his inconsistency all the more conspicuous).

The opportunity of the transfer window looms.

With Chancalay out for the season, and so many other players currently injured, New England’s recent season-saving winning streak could be rendered moot. Admirable as the performances have been from Revolution backups, the team currently lacks anything close to the level of depth required to make a legitimate playoff run.

Porter underscored this when talking about the disparity in substitutions made during the game.

“To put it in perspective, Seattle subs in a Designated Player in [Raul] Ruidíaz and a young Designated Player in [Pedro] de la Vega, who they spent $10 million on, and we have to sub in a Revs II player [Marcos Dias], and a player that hasn’t played at all this year,” Porter said, referencing midfielder Tommy McNamara’s return from injury.

“That pretty much sums up where we’re at versus where they’re at,” he added. “I think that probably had a lot to do with the final third in terms of the quality and us not being able to really threaten them in that final third.”

To address this, New England will likely need more time (and at least one offseason) to recalibrate the current roster design. In the short term, there is the hope that the upcoming transfer window could provide some relief.

The secondary MLS transfer window opens on July 18, running through Aug. 14. The Revolution technically do not have an open Designated Player slot (each team is limited to three), but could get short-term cap relief with Chancalay on the season-ending injury list.

In addition, the likely expansion of the U-22 Designated Player rule could open up spots for signings.

It’s clear that the Revolution need to add more depth in attack. Vrioni’s inconsistency, combined with backup Bobby Wood’s lingering injuries have only underlined the need for another option up front.

Chancalay and Borrero’s injuries (plus those of Nacho Gil and the more recent hamstring issue with Emmanuel Boateng) also place a priority on adding another winger or attacking midfielder.

Other positions (outside back, holding midfield) could use additional depth too, though the likelihood of making four acquisitions seems low in a midseason window.

The bottom line for sporting director Curt Onalfo is clear: The Revolution need help at several positions and should have the resources to make at least one addition. The sooner it can be done the better for a team that is facing an uphill climb on the periphery of a playoff chase.


#takeaways #Revolutions #loss #Sounders


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