The Revolution open their 2020 season Saturday in Montreal against the Impact at 3 p.m. It will offer the first glimpse of meaningful soccer since the team’s unexpected yet ultimately disappointing 1-0 playoff loss in Atlanta last October.
Since then, coach Bruce Arena has made offseason signings and added draft picks while keeping the core of the team intact.
At the heart of the team are midfielder Carles Gil and forward Gustavo Bou. Both were signed in 2019 and helped turn New England into a potent attacking force as the Revolution adventurously navigated their way from last place in May to a playoff spot by the fall.
Looking beyond that, there is potential but uncertainty. Here’s a look at a few players who could end up proving important to the Revolution this season:
■ Adam Buksa: Signed in December as the team’s third designated player (Bou and Gil being the other two), the 23-year-old Buksa might be the final piece of the puzzle in the attack. He fits the archetype of a traditional center forward given his size (6 feet 4 inches) and scoring ability.
Complementing the clever movement and passing of his teammates, Buksa will be the no-nonsense striker in front of the net, waiting to apply the finishing touch. Against a packed defense, Buksa could be the answer for New England.
And at 23, he’s only beginning to reach his full potential after arriving from Pogon Szczecin in Poland.
■ Henry Kessler: Kessler joins New England as a rookie center back from the University of Virginia after being selected sixth overall in January’s draft.
“He was absolutely our first choice of player to have,” Arena said afterward. “If we picked No. 1, we would’ve picked him. We were very fortunate he was available at No. 6 and we jumped on it immediately.”
■ Matt Turner: The 2019 season was potentially a turning point for the goalkeeper. After beginning last year as a backup (and, for a time, a third-stringer), Turner regained the starting job he first won in 2018. As he calmly backstopped New England’s midseason turnaround last summer, his fortunes rose.
By season’s end, Turner was seen as one of the best at his position in the league (especially in the view of analytics). He also received his first ever call-up to the US national team.
■ Andrew Farrell: Since he was selected No. 1 overall by the Revolution in the 2013 draft, no outfield player has started more games (217) than Farrell. He also was voted the team’s Defender of the Year in both 2018 and 2019.
In short, he’s been a central part of New England’s back line for years. The 27-year-old has also been a versatile presence, lining up at both right back and center back.
■ Wilfried Zahibo: Standing 6 feet 2 inches, Zahibo adds an imposing presence in the midfield. The 26-year-old, nominally more of a defensive midfielder, has shown a capacity to get forward and link the midfield and attack (something Arena has said he would like to see more of).Hayden Bird can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter at @haydenhbird.