Mar 2, 2019; Frisco, TX, USA; FC Dallas head coach Luchi Gonzalez on the sidelines before the match against the New England Revolution at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
The New England Revolution came from behind to tie FC Dallas 1-1 in the season opener Saturday night. Carles Gil’s second-half goal helped the Revolution earn their first point of 2019.
Here are three takeaways from New England’s performance:
Carles Gil’s instant impact
New England paid a transfer fee worth nearly $2 million – a club record – to acquire Spanish playmaker Carles Gil this offseason. Gil showed Saturday night why he deserved the significant cash splash. His biggest contribution came in the second half of his debut when he neatly tucked a shot from the heart of the penalty area past Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez. Gil reacted swiftly on the play, pouncing on a knockdown from Antonio Mlinar Delamea, who advanced into the box from central defense.
In general, the play seemed to indicate Gil is capable of seeing a few plays ahead. The Revolution pursued Gil more for his ability to create goals than put them away, but no one is going to lose sleep over who put the equalizer into the back of the net here. Gil looked dangerous taking set pieces and also finished the game with three shots, a decent 76 percent passing accuracy, and two key passes – which is a metric for passes that lead to scoring opportunities.
Delamea makes adjustments
Revolution captain Michael Mancienne was slated to start in central defense with Antonio Delamea Mlinar, but picked up a knock in warmups, which forced Revolution coach Brad Friedel to call an audible and start Jalil Anibaba instead. Delamea and Anibaba got off to a slow start, particularly on their ill-fated attempt at stopping Dallas’ Michael Barrios on the 13th minute play that produced the game’s opening goal, but the duo eventually established a rhythm and managed to hold off Dallas’ dynamic attack for most of the remainder of the game.
Delamea picked up a yellow card, and his passing accuracy was a mediocre 71 percent, but he maybe deserves some slack given he had to adjust on the fly to having Anibaba next to him. He got involved in the attack, too. He nearly produced the equalizer off a free kick late in the first half, but his open header in the heart of the penalty area drifted wide of the net. He made good on his miss in the second half by helping keep alive the play that led to Gil’s goal.
Tactics still somewhat up in the air
Friedel wants his team to press high and also control possession. It did one of those things Saturday. The team only had 36 percent of possession over the 90 minutes at Toyota Stadium. New England hasn’t been a possession-oriented team for years, so if Friedel truly wants his side to see more of the ball he either has to acquire the players to make it happen or come up with the right lineup.
Speaking of the lineup, a few of New England’s best players – both in general and in preseason – were left on the fringes opening day. Diego Fagundez came off the bench and played for 13 minutes. Luis Caicedo came on as a second half substitute. Rookie Tajon Buchanan remained on the bench.
Depth-wise, the team has to account for not having enough backups in central defense or at left back.
Overall, Friedel should be pleased with his team’s effort to come from behind on the road in the season opener and take a point. That said, the Revolution are decidedly a work in progress.