the tanner ba'

The New England Revolution Have Changed The Game

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While the club will make it official this morning, the 2015 MLS season took on a very different look and feel when the tweet above appeared yesterday afternoon.  That’s right, Juan Agudelo has returned to the New England Revolution, making a club that were already among the favorites to make MLS Cup this year now no worse than co-favorites with the L.A. Galaxy.  The contract will reportedly keep him at the club through the 2018 season and it is not, I repeat, not, a “Designated Player” contract, which leaves the suddenly free-spending Kraft family with the ability to make the club even better.  Needless to say, a move like this makes one wonder if it wasn’t done with the idea of having the strongest possible team before…building a soccer-specific stadium?  But I digress…

As you may remember the 22 year old U.S. international joined the Revolution or the first time on May 7, 2013 when Chivas USA traded him to the Revolution for allocation money.  Agudelo would go on to score seven times in fourteen matches for the Revs, giving them a boost in the Eastern Conference standings as well as an immediate air of credibility- something that the club had not had since the days of Twellman, Ralston, and Noonan.  On August 9, 2013 Agudelo signed a pre-contract agreement with Stoke City F.C. of the Premier League, and that’s when things began to get strange.

Agudelo left the Revolution when his contract expired on January 1, 2014 to join Stoke, where his work permit was denied.  Despite this, Stoke signed him with the intention of loaning him out to another club while they worked on reapplying for his permit.  This led to Agudelo playing half a season for F.C. Utrecht in the Eredivisie, scoring three times.  Following his return to Stoke in May the club re-applied for his permit but it was once again denied.  At this point Agudelo’s contract was cancelled and he became a free agent.  A free agent who basically dropped out of site except for the very rare social media posts.

Throughout all of this there was a persistent- and growing- feeling that Agudelo might end up back at Gillette Stadium at some point in the future.  There were several reasons for this- beyond the simple desire of the club’s supporters wanting to have a great player come back to the side.  First, Agudelo clearly enjoyed his time at the club and never really “closed the door” on a potential return.  Second, as it became clear that he was running out of options, a return to MLS seemed to become more likely, and since the Revolution still held his rights…

Agudelo next popped up training with Orlando City during the summer, but dropped off the radar again until only a week or so ago when rumors popped up that he was on the verge of signing with 1860 Münich in Germany.  However, just as quickly as that rumor came to life, the Revolution’s name entered the discussion as very serious suitors for Agudelo’s services.  The Revolution-related rumors quickly escalated to many news outlets reporting that the deal was, “imminent,” and indeed it was!

In case you are wondering if I am overestimating the impact of Agudelo’s return on both the club and the league, consider that the Revolution could open the season with a starting line-up that looks like this:

GK:  Shuttleworth

D:  Farrell, Goncalves, Tierney, Barnes/Alston

M:  Nguyen, Bunbury, Rowe, Jones

F:  Davies, Agudelo

Keep in mind also that:

  • Diego Fagundez, whom I’ve relegated to the bench here was at his best when Agudelo was with the club in 2013 (13 goals) and that Fagundez’s form has been so good lately with Uruguay’s U20 team that he is drawing interest from Serie A‘s Atalanta among others.
  • Midfielder Daigo Kobayashi was the only player to appear in every match for the 2014 MLS Runners-up and he would be coming off the bench.
  • Scott Caldwell, one of the best young midfielders in MLS would be coming off the bench.

Not to mention the players the Revolution have signed in the off-season, drafted, or have invited to training camp.

Or another Designated Player…

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