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PREVIEW: Young Revs seek to build on 2013 success
by Paul Kennedy, March 5th, 2014 3:12PM

TAGS:  mls, new england revolution


[MLS 2014: Eastern Conference] After three straight miserable seasons, the New England Revolution returned to the playoffs in 2013. The Revs' plus-16 turnaround was the best in the Eastern Conference and landed them in third place. In a more significant way, Jay Heaps put out on the field one of the most exciting young teams in MLS.

The Revs were, and are, far from the finished product, but 19-year-old Diego Fagundez, 21-year-old Juan Agudelo, 22-year-old Kelyn Rowe and 27-year-old Lee Nguyen combined for 31 goals and 23 assists in 2013 -- not bad for a team that had scored only 39 goals a year earlier. All Jose Goncalves, born in Portugal to Cape Verdean parents and raised in Switzerland, did in his first season in MLS was win Defender of the Year honors.

2013 New England
Record: 14-11-9
Finish: 3rd in Eastern Conference.
Playoffs: defeated in conference semifinals.

The big question for 2014 is, will the Revs continue to get better? To the surprise of no one, Agudelo, a free agent, bolted for Europe after just a half a season with the Revs. His departure leaves a big hole in the attack, but Teal Bunbury has been brought in from Sporting Kansas City to lead the attack.

Eastern Conference Preview:
Chicago | Columbus | D.C. United
Houston | Montreal

WHY BE OPTIMISTIC? There are not many better trios in MLS than Fagundez, Rowe and Bunbury. Fagundez is MLS's top young forwards. Rowe is one of the most dangerous players in MLS at striking from distance. Bunbury looks like he'll fit right in with the Revs, scoring two great goals after arriving in Tucson for the last weeks of preseason.

They are supported by Nguyen, who enjoyed a very good second season in MLS, and young Scott Caldwell in midfield. Goncalves is a monster in the back and is surrounded by a deep and experienced group of American defenders.

WHY BE PESSIMISTIC? Agudelo is a big loss. While Bunbury looks like he's integrating well into the Revs' lineup, he has not shown since his return from knee surgery that he can consistently score in MLS.

At the beginning of the year, Goncalves was vocal about his dissatisfaction with his contract situation following the Revs' purchase of his contract from FC Sion. The Revs will need to keep him positive and focused.

New England enters the season with lots of injury concerns. Starting outside backs Andrew Farrell and Chris Tierney both sat out all of the Desert Diamond Cup with foot injuries. The Revs will need Saer Sene, who is recovering from a broken ankle.

Matt Reis (fourth all-time among MLS goalies with 282 games) retired, leaving big shoes to fill in goal. Bobby Shuttleworth is the likely starter ahead of Brad Knighton.

PROJECTED FINISH: 5th-8th place. The Revs start off at Houston and Philadelphia. We'll know soon enough how they stack up in  the Eastern Conference.

22-Bobby Shuttleworth (26)/USA (6th season)

2-Andrew Farrell (21)/USA (2nd season)
23-Jose Goncalves (28)/Portugal (2nd season)
5-A.J. Soares (25)/USA (4th season)
8-Chris Tierney (28)/USA (7th season)

6-Scott Caldwell (22)/USA (2nd season)
14-Diego Fagundez (19)/Uruguay (4th season)
24-Lee Nguyen (27)/USA (3rd season)
11-Kelyn Rowe (22)/USA (3rd season)
7-Patrick Mullins (22)/USA (Univ. of Maryland)

10-Teal Bunbury (24)/USA (Sporting KC)

First off the bench:
30-Kevin Alston (25)/USA (6th season)
25-Darrius Barnes (27)/USA (6th season)
27-Jerry Bengtson (26)/Honduras (3rd season)
12-*Andy Dorman (31)/Wales (2nd season)
New England Revolution: complete roster.

returning players in bold.
*second stint at club.

March 8: at Houston, 8:30 pm ET
March 15:
at Philadelphia, 4 pm ET
March 22: Vancouver, 2 pm ET
March 29: at San Jose, 10:30 pm ET
New England Revolution: complete schedule.

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