ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – It’ll be another two weeks before the results matter, but the New England Revolution were nonetheless pleased to be on the winning end of Friday afternoon’s preseason friendly with Nashville SC, riding a Dylan Borrero goal to a 1-0 victory at Al Lang Stadium.
A total of 22 players saw minutes for the Revs and several played well past the hour mark as they continue to build towards the season opener against Charlotte FC, now just two weeks away.
“A win is a win. Whether it’s preseason or the regular season, we always want to win. That’s the objective,” said Henry Kessler. “I thought that today was good, better than our first two games, and we’re continuing to make progress. That’s probably the most important thing.”
“It’s always good to get that winning feeling,” echoed Brandon Bye. “We scored a nice goal and kept a clean sheet, so all good things.”
Borrero flashes talent with quality finish; aims to make consistent impact in 2023
MLS saw glimpses of Dylan Borrero’s ability last season after the Colombian winger debuted in May, including a stunning finish in the Revolution’s season finale in Chicago. But the 21-year-old was largely limited by injury in 2022, notching three goals and two assists in 12 appearances as he missed two months from mid-July to mid-September.
Healthy and eager ahead of his first full MLS season, Borrero has gotten off to a strong start in 2023. He made his senior debut for the Colombia National Team in a 0-0 friendly draw with the United States in late January, and he’s started each of the Revs’ first three preseason games, notching the game-winning goal on Friday as he took a feed from Giacomo Vrioni and finished expertly at the near post.
“Obviously he has talent and that’s why we brought him here,” Bye said of Borrero. “We didn’t get to see it too much last year because of injury and stuff like that, but really good to see him healthy in preseason and flying. We’re going to be good with him.”
“It’s funny because we could kind of feel it coming,” Kessler said of Borrero’s goal. “It was a good turn by Giacomo and then a good shot. The ‘keeper had no chance. So, it’s good to see him doing well.”
Organization improving as Revs keep first clean sheet of 2023 preseason
After conceding a pair of goals in each of their first two preseason games in Florida the Revs kept their first clean sheet of the 2023 preseason on Friday, a positive development for a side looking to tighten things up at the back after a disappointing 2022 campaign.
Offseason additions like center back Dave Romney and central midfielder Latif Blessing were added in part to help the group defensively, and now five weeks into preseason preparations, those relationships are continuing to form and that understanding is beginning to take shape.
“It looked organized today,” said Kessler. “I thought we were more organized today than in the first two games, so we’re making strides and gelling with new people. I thought Latif and Matt [Polster] in front of us did a good job closing down passing lanes and stuff like that. It was organized and better structured today.”
Kessler played 35 minutes on Friday in his first preseason appearance, and he’ll be looking to quickly increase those minutes through the Revolution’s last two friendly matches.
“I felt good,” Kessler said. “I probably could’ve gone a little longer, but precautionary. It was good to get back on the field because obviously that’s where I want to be. It felt good to get 35 minutes and hopefully I can get more on Tuesday [against FC Cincinnati].”
Three-week trip offers bonding opportunities ahead of long season
Recent preseason trips have ranged somewhere between 12 and 16 days, but the Revolution’s current stay in Florida is one of the longest in recent memory at 22 days including travel. That’s giving the players plenty of opportunities to form both a cohesive unit on the field, and also a tightknit group off it, as downtime around the hotel has been plentiful.
“Guys are finding their groups and everybody’s working together,” said Bye, now in his sixth year with the Revolution. “The lunch tables, the dinner tables, the poker nights, all that stuff is fun stuff to bond us. It is a long trip, three weeks, but it’s good.”
Two preseason games remain as Revs inch closer to opener in Charlotte
Preseason preparations will continue with several more training sessions and two more games in Florida, beginning with Tuesday afternoon’s meeting with FC Cincinnati (12 p.m. ET). The Revs will then visit Orlando City SC next Saturday night in what will serve as a final dress rehearsal ahead of their season opener against Charlotte FC one week later on February 25 at Bank of America Stadium.