Matt Polster vs. Atlanta United (2021)
David Silverman

Polster “simply outstanding” as consistent presence in Revolution’s central midfield

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Several different players have played key roles as the New England Revolution have raced out to their best start since 2009, taking seven points from their first three games. Goal scorers Adam Buksa and Gustavo Bou earned plaudits following the season opener in Chicago. Wilfrid Kaptoum, Christian Mafla, and Arnór Traustason garnered praise as they earned debut starts in the home-opening win over D.C. United. Carles Gil displayed his MVP credentials in last weekend’s win over Atlanta.

Perhaps the most consistent performer, however, has been central midfielder Matt Polster, one of five field players to have played all 270 minutes. The 27-year-old leads the Revs in completed passes (125) with a passing percentage over 87 percent, while his five tackles are second behind Brandon Bye (9).

“I think Matt Polster, his last two games have been simply outstanding,” said head coach Bruce Arena. “Winning balls, getting the ball off his feet quickly, getting it moving.”

“He’s been really, really solid for us bringing up plays in the midfield, especially in the D.C. game [which] was physical, so he was getting stuck in on tackles,” said center back Andrew Farrell. “He’s partnered well with Kaptoum, Maciel. We have a lot of really good midfield players.”

Polster has in fact started alongside a different central midfield partner in each match. He was paired with Tommy McNamara in Chicago, Kaptoum against D.C., and Maciel against Atlanta, and Polster’s role shifts depending upon who is next to him in midfield. McNamara and Kaptoum play a bit more box-to-box, meaning Polster was in more of a holding role, but Maciel slid into the holding role this past weekend, pushing Polster into the No. 8 spot.

Regardless of his role, Polster has been brilliant in covering ground, winning possession, evading pressure on the dribble, and playing a key role in the transition from defense to attack, much like he did when he first arrived in New England last summer.

“He’s been great,” goalkeeper Matt Turner said of Polster, noting that he consistently leads the team in distance covered. “I think when he first came in last year in 2020, he probably played very similar – like three, four, or five really good games in a row. Then he had that concussion in D.C. [on September 27] and it sort of derailed him a little bit.

“But he’s a really good player, and he’s one that’s not afraid to take risks. He’s really been helping us keep the ball and allowing Carles to stay a little bit higher up the field, so it all sort of is related to each other in a way.”

Polster will likely have an important role to play once again on Saturday afternoon when the Revs visit Nashville SC (1:30 p.m. ET, TV38, myRITV), a side strong through the middle of the field with Dax McCarty, Anibal Godoy, and Hany Mukhtar.

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