PORTLAND, Ore. – Two more preseason matches are all that stand between the New England Revolution and their season opener at the Montreal Impact on February 29.
That provides the team with two important chances to implement changes in game settings.
After analyzing Sunday’s showdown against Minnesota United - a 2-2 draw - there were many encouraging signs for the Revs. However, they also took note of constructive criticisms they can use to make improvements, especially from the group’s first-half performance.
“Overall for 90 minutes, I’m satisfied,” said head coach Bruce Arena. “I’m not happy with the first 45 minutes, but certainly the second half was a much better effort by our team.”
Arena has a list of what areas he wants his team to strengthen heading into the final two games of preseason, and the start of the 2020 campaign.
“A better job on the ball, keeping the ball, and a better job in trying to win it back when we lost it, and just getting pressure on the ball and being more aggressive, more competitive,” said Arena. “I think just the simple things had to be better and they were in the second half [on Sunday].”
The players, too, understand that they can sharpen these simple things.
“I think it's winning second balls,” said veteran Teal Bunbury. “It’s easy things in terms of maybe a little bit more work ethic, being in the right spots, communicating a little bit more, so those are good things to have I guess [as a] problem that you can work on.
“I think it’s a lot about communication and working for each other.”
Striker Adam Buksa, who has been working directly with Bunbury in the final third, echoed his sentiment.
“I focus on those final decisions – shots, final passes – so I think we could have created more 100% chances,” said Buksa regarding Sunday’s preseason match against Minnesota. “But we’re going to improve them for sure because we understand us much better as we get to know each other better and better, so it will come for sure.
“We want to be more consistent up front, to score more goals and keep zero on the defensive line.”
As the Revs look to apply their critiques, they will have a game setting to do so in their second preseason game in the Portland tournament on Wednesday, February 19, against the Vancouver Whitecaps.