CLEARWATER, Fla. – Every preseason match is a learning opportunity regardless of result, and the New England Revolution will certainly take some lessons from Tuesday afternoon’s 4-0 loss to FC Cincinnati, a match played in three periods and totaling 120 minutes at Walter C. Campbell Park in Clearwater, Fla.
Three of the four goals were conceded in the opening 45 minutes, a period in which the Revolution largely controlled possession only to be punished by mistakes building out of the back. But making those kinds of mistakes in preseason presents an opportunity to correct issues ahead of the regular season opener, now just 11 days away on February 25 in Charlotte.
“As a group, it’s starting to come together,” said rookie Joshua Bolma. “We can play, we can move the ball around, and at least we want to play through pressure and everything. But sometimes we have to be mindful of just get it up sometimes and then regroup and go again.
“Overall, I didn’t think it was that bad. I thought we were able to control the game. It was just those few errors where we tried to play through pressure a little bit and got caught in our own third. So, I think that’s something we should keep working on and get better at.”
Revs seeing game-over-game progress in style and system
Preseason objectives rarely differ from year to year. Teams spend six or seven weeks in January and February building fitness, integrating their offseason additions, and determining which formation and style of play best suits the players on their roster.
Now four matches into their five-match preseason slate, the Revs believe they’ve made progress game over game in figuring out exactly how they’re planning to attack teams in 2023.
“I think every game we’ve definitely improved,” said Damian Rivera. “I think we have more of a system of how we want to play, and I think every game gets better and better.”
“You can see that we’re getting the pieces together, the way we want to play, the system, and everything else,” added Bolma. “It’s preseason, so it’s like dress rehearsal and seeing how it fits with other teams, pressure, and stuff like that. I think we’re coming together slowly now, we’re definitely building now, and before the season starts, we’re definitely going to be in the right place and be able to progress from there.”
Farrell (45 minutes) and Wood (30 minutes) see first preseason action
Henry Kessler played 45 more minutes on Tuesday afternoon after making his preseason debut in last Friday’s win over Nashville, while Andrew Farrell and Bobby Wood both saw their first action of the 2023 preseason against FC Cincinnati.
Farrell started and played 45 minutes alongside Omar Gonzalez in central defense, wearing the captain’s armband as he enters year 11 in MLS as the Revolution’s all-time leader in appearances (304), starts (301), and minutes played (26,792).
“Obviously Andrew is a leader on the team and to have him back, it’s good for all of us,” said Rivera. “I think he helps the team a lot.”
Wood played 30 minutes in what functioned as the second period on Tuesday, his first game action in a Revolution jersey since arriving in the offseason when he was selected in Stage 2 of the MLS Re-Entry Draft.
“Bobby is a very good player and he has a lot of experience,” said Rivera. “A lot of the younger guys can learn from him, as well, and to have him back on the field is a big positive.”
No. 4 overall SuperDraft pick Bolma adapting to new role with Revolution
Bruce Arena and his technical staff saw enough in Joshua Bolma to trade up to the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s SuperDraft to select the former Maryland standout, and the 20-year-old has spent much of his first professional preseason adjusting to a new role with the Revolution.
Bolma was largely used as a midfielder during his two seasons with the Terrapins but also spent a bit of time on the backline, which has helped him prepare for the transition to New England, where he’s been used as a right wingback in a three-CB system and as a right back on a four-man backline.
“With the three backs, sometimes you get a little protection going forward with the third center back covering,” Bolma said of the differences in systems. “But with the four backs, you’ve got to be a little bit more reserved going forward because being able to know the balance between when you step, or someone can be behind you. It’s a little tricky, but you’ve got to be able to adapt and learn. Preseason has been a great learning process for me to be able to work on those qualities.”
Orlando City SC presents final preseason test on Saturday night
Saturday night’s preseason finale against Orlando City SC will kick off exactly one week before the Revolution’s regular season opener at Charlotte FC, set for February 25 at Bank of America Stadium. New England’s visit to Exploria Stadium will serve as a final dress rehearsal in Florida, before they’ll return to Foxborough and begin preparing for Charlotte next week.
“These last 10 days for us, I think the most important thing is getting everything sharp and building that little bit more chemistry that we need,” said Rivera.