FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – While the New England Revolution made six changes to integrate fresh faces into last weekend’s starting lineup against Minnesota United FC, there was also a key positional shift that helped lift the Revs to their 2-1 win at Gillette Stadium.
The change was moving Brandon Bye from the right back role he played the first four games of the 2019 season and much of his rookie campaign, to playing a more advanced role on the right wing.
More specifically, Bye has registered a total of 29 appearances, 21 starts and 1,920 minutes across 39 possible regular-season matches, and while the 23-year-old has spent plenty of time on a professional field, most of it has been as an outside back.
However, moving up to the wing is actually a familiar feeling for Bye, as he played this role in his college career at Western Michigan University.
“Brandon Bye played great,” said head coach Brad Friedel. “The work that they put in to doing what was needed to be done, and (for) Brandon to change positions – and I know that's his more natural position, anyways, but with us he's been predominantly a right back. We're happy with all that.”
The primary reason Bye played right back through the first four games of 2019 was due to Andrew Farrell being unavailable, as he was sidelined with a serious eye injury.
Bye's experience on the backline put the second-year pro in a more advantageous position when he moved up to the wing last weekend, as he now understands the nuances of the right back role which strengthened his relationship with Farrell along the right side.
“It felt good being back,” said Farrell. “They [Minnesota] attacked a little bit more down the other side so I didn’t get to see as much action, but it felt good, especially having Brandon out there in front of me, helping me out.”
The partnership between Bye and Farrell was evident against Minnesota.
“I was up the field a little farther,” said Bye. “Farrell was behind me and he was always talking to me, directing to go inside or outside. We have a good relationship and good connection. I felt like whenever I was on the field, someone was helping me, someone was always trying to connect with me.
“I felt okay, not too much difference. I am used to playing in that position when I was in college, so I am not too unfamiliar with it.”
Shifting Bye to the wing also aided the Revs in getting their first victory of 2019. This tactical change allowed Bye to play in a more advanced and attack-minded role as he pushed forward, setting him up to finish the game winner at the far post on a ball from Teal Bunbury.
While roles and faces may change throughout the course of the season, it’s evident that the bonds between the players are continuing to grow each and every game.
The Revs will be on the road this weekend as they look to get a second straight win, with kickoff against Columbus Crew SC set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium.