MLS Eastern Conference Preview, Predictions

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New England Revolution

Last year’s results: 17-13-4, lost in the MLS Cup final to LA

Head coach: Jay Heaps, in charge for a fourth season

Big offseason addition: Juan Agudelo, who couldn’t find a team in Europe

It will be forgotten by history, but Teal Bunbury hit the crossbar in the 85th minute of last year’s MLS Cup final. Had his shot been a foot lower, the New England Revolution would be defending champions right now. As it stands, the Revs enter 2015 with the “unfinished business” narrative hanging over their heads. Cup loss aside, no team finished last year on as hot a run as the Revs, and no team will have bigger expectations  for the year ahead.

Lee Nguyen was the breakout star of the 2014 season, scoring 18 goals as a midfielder. That’s impressive, but it was also necessary; the forwards weren’t getting the job done. Last year, the Revs gave the striker job in equal measures to Charlie Davies and Patrick Mullins, and the two of them combined for just seven goals.

To alleviate this problem, New England welcomed Juan Agudelo back after a failed year abroad. If Agudelo, who is still just 22, can be the striker he was just two years ago, the Revs will be greatly improved up top. The Revs might also hope for a bounce-back year from 20-year-old Diego Fagundez, who scored just five goals last season.

Agudelo was the biggest story of the offseason, but AJ Soares quietly left Foxboro (eventually landing in Norway), and that may have as big an impact. Soares was the best defender for a defense that was merely average, and the Revs didn’t do much to replace him. There might be a lot of high-scoring games ahead for New England.

Glass half full outlook: With Jermaine Jones for a full season, and a proven striker in the form of Juan Agudelo, New England can return to MLS Cup. Hell, they could host the final this time around. In an Eastern Conference generally perceived to be weak, the Revs should be considered the favorites — by far.

Glass half empty outlook: It’s easy to forget that the Revs suffered an eight-game losing streak in the middle of last season. Yes, that was before the Jones signing, but what if the 33-year-old midfielder doesn’t recover fully from his sports hernia surgery, or gets hurt again? Lee Nguyen can’t be expected to score 18 goals again, can he? How much of last fall’s run was momentum, and how much can really be sustained over the course of an eight month season? There are too many question marks to start preparing for a chilly MLS Cup in Foxboro.

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  • Anonymous

    Six teams make the Eastern Conference playoffs this year. As ridiculous as that may sound, even worse is that NYRB will not be one of them. NYCFC has a better chance.

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