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Match Preview: Three Questions with The Bent Musket

Stumptown Footy sat down with our friends at The Bent Musket to exchange some questions in advance of the Timbers’ home opener.

SOCCER: FEB 22 MLS Preseason - Portland Timbers v New England Revolution Photo by Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Portland Timbers open their 2022 MLS season at home on Saturday, when they face off against the defending Supporters’ Shield winners, the New England Revolution at Providence Park.

In an effort to understand what made the Revs so good last year, how they might play this year, and how everyone really feels about the death of the crayon flag, we sat down with Jake Catanese of SB Nation site The Bent Musket to answer a few questions.

We also answered a few questions of their own- head over here to read them.


Stumptown Footy: The Revolution are defending Supporter’s Shield champions. What made them so good last year, and how do you want to see them improve this year?

The Bent Musket: Last year was truly a masterstroke of management from Bruce Arena. Consistently throughout the year Arena was able to rotate and substitute effectively and still win games even without his top lineup on the field for ninety minutes. Matt Turner was excellent as always, Carles Gil won the MVP basically in the first two or three months of the year before his injury and Adam Buksa and Gustavo Bou really formed an effective partnership up top.

As to how you can improve upon the highest single season point total ever and the Revs’ first league trophy...well obviously winning the CCL or MLS Cup would be a good place to start. We’ll get into more tactics with the next question but the Revs seem very committed to the 4-4-2 Diamond but defensively gave up a lot of chances last year. While the backline of DeJuan Jones, Henry Kessler, Andrew Farrell, and Brandon Bye individually were very solid last year, as a unit there seemed to be a lot of breakdowns and inconsistencies that will need to be fixed especially when Turner isn’t there to save those mistakes.

STF: Tajon Buchanan was one of New England’s breakout players last season. How big of a loss is his departure, and how confident are you in the rest of the roster to step up into his role?

TBM: Buchanan is a huge loss because his one-on-one ability and speed created so much havoc and problems for opponents that he was a match winner all on his own before you factor in his ability to open up space for Gil, Buksa and Bou in the attacking third. His rise from breakout playoff hero in 2020 to legitimate international star for Canada is no fluke and Revs fans will enjoy seeing his highlights over in Belgium with Club Brugge. The Revs basically play two seasons this year, one with Turner in the CCL, and then the second half ramping up to the MLS Cup Playoffs so it will be interesting to see how the Revs adjust not just in the start of the year, but also in the summer.

However, Buchanan was essentially stuck playing in a central midfield role instead of a true winger role for the Revs in their diamond formation and Sebastian Lletget is far better suited for that role in the midfield. What the Revs lose from Tajon being an individual threat they hope to gain from Lletget adding a lot more tactical cohesion and stability to the midfield. Right now the other true center mid spot opposite Lletget is not set in stone with a platoon of Tommy McNamara, Maciel, and Arnor Traustason ready to step in. Lletget and leftback Jones partnered really well during Jones’ stint at USMNT camp this winter even though Jones did not make the playing roster for the qualifiers. All signs point to Lletget being able to step right in, the question will be do the Revs try and upgrade the midfield at some point this year and really bolster that spot even with striker (Buksa) and Turner (keeper) being the players likely leaving in the summer.

STF: 2022 is the year the Revs bid farewell to the “crayon flag” logo. As a fan, what are your feelings about the rebrand?

TBM: Ooooooooooohhhhh boy, I’m gonna need a minute...

Walks to the corner of the room, curls up into a ball and rocks back and forth for a while...

I am in the Long Live the Crayon Flag camp and always will be, but personal feelings aside, I do not dislike the new Ghostbusters “R” logo though I have been tremendously disappointed in the rollout of the rebrand. The timing to announce the move at the season finale last year seemed slightly odd especially with the logo effectively leaked months earlier. In my opinion the rebrand took the focus off the Supporters’ Shield win and with limited merchandise that didn’t reinforce the highlight of the new logo - that wonderful strikethrough sash - it feels like the Crayon Flag died a needless death. And the Crayon Flag not getting its proper place on a banner celebrating the Shield is a travesty and redoing the SuperLiga banner is unforgivable.

But the Revs deserve a rebrand, or at least a rebirth under Bruce Arena because of the tremendous turnaround and success the team has had after dumping Brad Friedel so quickly. However only redoing the home kit to all navy with very little innovation or brand tie in feels...inexcusable for a team that has ascended finally into the DP era with authority. Hopefully there will be some retro merch available soon and the results on the field remain excellent because at the end of the day, winning cures a lot that ails any sports team.