MLS repair guide: What the New England Revolution needs to do to contend in 2017

The New England Revolution struggled in 2016, but need only small changes to become serious contenders in 2017.

When 2016 started, the New England Revolution found themselves on most pre-season lists for a deep playoff run. After a shaky start to the season, New England found their footing, stringing several wins together. However, as the season went on, the realization that this club was not headed in the right direction became obvious.

It looked like regardless of what players Jay Heaps put on the field, goals were not being scored and no one was able to play consistent defense. Even with small injuries to Juan Agudelo, New England still held a great deal of talent in their cards.

After posting a -10 goal difference, it quickly became clear that the Revs needed a better goalkeeper. Bobby Shuttleworth and Brad Knighton did their best to keep the club in the playoff race, but the inconsistent play killed all hopes. The defense allowed 54 goals during the season, a large part was underwhelming performances from veterans Andrew Farrell, Chris Tierney and Jose Goncalves. Yes, injuries also worked their way into the back line, but, no matter who stood back to defend, oppositions carved through them.

The shopping list for New England is not a long one. Considering the before mentioned issues, a high-level goalkeeper is a must. If not that, then more help at center back and on the wings. Goncalves did not have his contract renewed, for good reason, leaving a hole on the back line.

Aside from the defensive needs, adding another dynamic striker to compliment Kei Kamara and Agudelo is a must. New England moved towards a 4-4-2 to late and it cost them a playoff spot. Now that it is clear how important a Kamara/Agudelo pairing can be, a change of pace striker would only increase the team’s offensive threat.

After finishing in sixth place in the Eastern Conference at 11-14-9, there is a need for a higher level of expectation going into next season. MLS is only getting stronger, especially with Minnesota United and Atlanta United joining this coming year. Atlanta especially could be a force in the East, making the Revs playoff hopes even harder.

Is there hope for New England next season? Yes. Will this team win 15 or more games? At this moment, no. There are team different types of teams in MLS. Those that have an average defense but élite offense and those that have shutdown defenses and average attackers. The Revs fit the first of the two categories. When healthy, their midfielders and forwards are capable of top three type play. Look at the video below from their season finale. This team can score fantastic goals.

To close, now that New England renewed Heaps contract, it opens the door for the tinkering to finish and true, consistent play to begin. The Revolution cannot be overlooked anymore, especially with the amount of talent on their roster. MLS 2017 is the best shot for New England to obtain major success after the drastic dip in 2016. Stay positive Revs fans, the future is bright.