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Three questions with the Blazing Musket

Let's ask our old friends about their new winning streak.

Last Updated
3 min read
Xavier Arreaga is back in Seattle this weekend | courtesy of Mark Smith and USAToday

In 2021 the New England Revolution and Bruce Arena set the record for the most points in a single MLS season. The path since that success has been rough. Arena couldn't maintain those heights, missing the playoffs the next year, coming back as mediocre team and then getting fired/resigning for a still unknown violation of league ethical standards.

Losing the greatest coach in the history of the league, New England turned to a two-time MLS Cup winner with two separate clubs – Seattle nemesis Caleb Porter. The Porter era started rough (2-10-1) but has improved lately.

The Revs are now up to 3-0-5, -7 on the road. Seattle, also bad and then good, is now 4-1-5, +7 at home.

Which team will keep their positive streak going?

Answering Three Questions for the Blazing Musket is Jake.

SaH: At one point Caleb Porter looked to be on the hot seat as the Revolution were dreadful. Now they've won five of their last six. What's changed from the multi-goal blowouts of the early season?

tBM: The Revs early season schedule with the CCC was kind of brutal, and there were a lot of short- and long-term injuries the Revs were dealing with a few months ago. The early implementation of Porter's possession system was also a detriment as New England routinely got caught in their own half on the ball, leading to a lot of unnecessary pressure and goals. As the Revs got later into the season, they started getting players healthy, brought in Xavier Arreaga and Aljaz Ivacic to bolster the backline and keeper spots, and things started to click. If you look at the Revs recent winning streak, they've also caught a few teams in bad spots - Nashville after firing their coach, RBNY during an international break, Atlanta after selling everyone. New England is still playing better soccer overall, and especially starting to create and finish better chances, the youngsters like Esmir Bajraktarevic and Noel Buck have seen more minutes, Dylan Borrero and Brandon Bye are returning from long-term's really been a lot of little things that have offset the bad like losing Tomas Chancalay for the year. 

While the injury news for New England is better. It's still not great. Four players are out, including both Carles and Nacho Gil. Six players are questionable. Caleb Porter's hot run may be out of steam.

SaH: How did Xavier Arreaga go from an afterthought in Seattle to being the best defender for the Revs?

tBM: I think most Revs fans would still say Dave Romney is the team's best overall defender, especially after Arreaga's day against Columbus which was...bad, but Arreaga offers a unique technical skillset to the centerback position that the Revs don't get with Romney and Henry Kessler. Arreaga's ability on the ball, especially dribbling forward to take space, has been noticeable in the past few weeks and it really gives the Revs an added dimension when they're starting from the back. Porter's early season focus on build up play is starting to show up more and more, but it's how the Revs are transitioning forward with line-breaking runs and passes that is really at the forefront and Arreaga's game absolutely helps with that.

Xavi made a full recovery to the player that helped Seattle win trophies. His per 90 tackles+interceptions is up 60%. He's getting dribbled past only half as frequently. His aerial success is again elite.

SaH: Giacomo Vrioni is now living up to his billing and price as a DP. What's his style of play and why is it working this season?

tBM: Vrioni is kind of an all-rounder – his hold up play is getting better, he's okay in the air, and we're starting to see what he can do on and off the ball more and more as the Revs sort themselves out on the attacking side of the ball. Going from Adam Buksa and serving dozens of crosses to his glorious Polish forehead, the Revs needed a big-time adjustment to Vrioni's game, and under Bruce Arena, Vrioni did not get that nor did he get a long run of games to find his form. This year, Vrioni has been the guy up front save for an early red card suspension. It's only Bobby Wood on the depth chart behind him and Wood has been hurt most of the year. Vrioni has played well without Carles Gil these past few games and if the two Revs DP's can start to combine more with the rest of the supporting cast improving all the time, the Revs might just find themselves in the playoff hunt, which did not see possible at the beginning of June.

Virioni has 7 goals and an assist. Carles Gil has 5 goals and 3 assists, but is well over-performing his xG. Unlike most seasons, Carles is not a creative force. He's also listed as out.

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