LOS ANGELES – Having spent the first three weeks of preseason camp training extensively and playing a series of intra-squad scrimmages, Monday afternoon’s meeting with the LA Galaxy was the New England Revolution’s first opportunity to put all that work to the test in a game situation.
The early results, according to sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena, were promising.
“It was a good effort by our team trying to get a little coordination on the field, understanding our strengths and weakness, and really try to play out some of the concepts we introduced to them in the first two weeks of camp,” Arena said. “I thought overall it was a real good exercise for our team.”
New England, who used much of their starting group for 60 minutes, fell 2-1 – their goal coming late in the first half from Gustavo Bou, in his first preseason with the Revs after registering nine goals and two assists in 14 appearances following his arrival last July.
Buksa sees important minutes – and sets up a goal – in MLS preseason debut
Preseason is perhaps most important for the newest additions to the squad, including forward Adam Buksa, who played his first 60 minutes against MLS competition.
Buksa was paired up top alongside Bou and set up his strike partner’s goal in the 42nd minute, when Cristian Penilla’s cutback picked out Buksa inside the box and the Polish forward’s attempted shot found Bou for a simple tap-in at the back post.
The 6-foot-3 striker also showed his aerial prowess in the early stages, smashing a 16th-minute header off the crossbar from Bou’s corner-kick service.
Buksa was also on the receiving end of some heavy challenges from the Galaxy, and those experiences are all part of the learning process for a young player adjusting to a new league.
“I think he’s learning a little something about Major League Soccer,” Arena said of Buksa. “I think every experience he gets in preseason is going to be important.”
“I know there’s a couple chances where he wishes he would’ve probably done a little better, but he’s still getting used to how to play with different guys,” added Andrew Farrell. “He’s just getting used to it, and I think also just getting used to the play. MLS is just very different … so I think getting to play against another team, he’s figuring it out, and as the game went on, he kept growing into the game.”
Kessler goes the full 90 minutes in professional preseason debut
It’s a significant jump from college soccer to MLS, but sixth overall SuperDraft pick Henry Kessler took another big step in that progression on Monday at Dignity Health Sports Park. Kessler played the full 90 minutes alongside Andrew Farrell in central defense, and earned praise from Arena.
“He did very well,” Arena said of the former University of Virginia defender. “I was real pleased with him. Not surprised that he would do well after he got over his initial nerves, I think, in the early going, but I thought overall he had a very good game.”
Kessler said fitness wasn’t an issue after going 90 minutes, and he continues to learn the intricacies of the system that Arena has installed in New England, which Kessler admits is much different than the system he played in college – primarily because the Revs play a higher line.
“A ton, a ton,” Kessler said when asked what he’s taking from every training session and game. “Each and every day, learning a lot. Different system, so working on that, as well. Really important for the defense to be on the same page.
“Also getting to know my teammates and how they play – that’s important. But I think more than anything you learn more from games, so this was very important for me.”
Several players unavailable vs. LA working their way towards full fitness
Five players were unavailable for Monday’s preseason opener: Alexander Büttner, Luis Caicedo, Antonio Delamea, Carles Gil, and Michael Mancienne. All five are with the Revs in LA, and Arena said the Revs are simply being extra cautious through preseason.
“We’re not real concerned about anything except getting our team healthy and getting them fit,” Arena said. “So we’ll move along, and if we can get other players in over the next couple weeks, we’ll do that. But we’re just focused on making sure that any players that have some injuries, they heal properly and we’ll use them accordingly.”
Revs return to action on Wednesday against the Colorado Rapids
Now that the Revs have kicked off their preseason slate the games will come one after the other, as they’ll be back in action on Wednesday, Feb. 12, taking on the Colorado Rapids on the grounds of Dignity Health Sports Park (2 p.m. ET).
That’ll be the Revs’ final game in California before they move camp up the coast to Portland, Ore., where they’ll play Minnesota United FC (Feb. 16), the Vancouver Whitecaps (Feb. 19), and the Portland Timbers (Feb. 22) ahead of the regular season opener against the Montreal Impact on Feb. 29.