CHESTER, Pa. – It was scoreless for 85 minutes on Wednesday night at Subaru Park, but ultimately the New England Revolution and Philadelphia Union shared the points as they battled to a 1-1 draw with late goals from both sides.
While the Revs were frustrated to not take all three points after getting on the board first in the 85th minute through Teal Bunbury, there were several positives as they finished honors even with last year’s Supporters’ Shield winners.
One of those bright spots was that 23-year-old center back Jon Bell made his MLS debut in the squad’s starting lineup as he played a full 90 minutes alongside Andrew Farrell in central defense.
“I was just really blessed to make my MLS debut,” said Bell. “To be honest, I wasn't even nervous going out, I was just really anxious, really wanted to finally be able to get on the field so really happy for that.”
Bell became the second Revolution II graduate to start and appear in a first-team game, joining Maciel after both signed with the first team this past March.
The 23-year-old made 15 starts in USL League One during his debut pro campaign in 2020. He also had a strong career at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, as he was named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List at the start of 2019 season before joining Revs II in 2020.
“I think [Revolution II] prepared me a lot from just the culture that Revs II has to what they teach us as players in development still,” said Bell. “Especially for me because I was a new-found center back, so for me I had to learn even quicker. But for Revs II, they groomed me in a way that I think was the best way possible to set me up for this opportunity that I got."
With his impressive stats in his debut, Bell demonstrated that the quality from Revs II prepared him for the first team, finishing with team-highs in possessions gained (11) and clearances (5), while adding two tackles and two interceptions.
“You always want to do the right things starting from the beginning of the game,” said Bell on how he was able to gain confidence from settling into the match quickly. “Once you get one good interception or one defensive play, you just try to build on it.
"Getting those early touches in the game, winning the headers and stuff like that, it just builds my confidence to keep me going throughout the rest of the game.”
“Jon’s played very well for us," said head coach Bruce Arena. "In preseason, he suffered a hamstring injury in our last preseason game in LA that put him back a little bit and we have been looking for an opportunity to get him on the field.
"Tonight was a good time and I think he took advantage of the opportunity. He played very well.”
Bell will now look to build off his inaugural performance with the Revolution, with an opportunity to be selected in their next game on Sunday, May 16 against Columbus SC at Gillette Stadium.