The start of the season hasn’t been great for the New England Revolution, but Cristian Penilla has been a highlight among the struggles. In fact, thus far, he has been the star of the season.
A lack of finishing and poor defense has plagued the New England Revolution’s start to the season. At this point, it seems like the team cannot buy a win, even when they deserve one.
The team has collected just one point this season when they easily should have six. They could — and perhaps even should — be at the top of the Eastern Conference, but their inefficiencies at either of the pitch have cost them. And soccer is often a game decided by what happens in either penalty box.
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Instead of flying high, the Revolution are sitting in eighth place, hoping they will finally get a win when they face off against the Portland Timbers on Sunday, March 15th. But for all of their infuriating struggles this season, there is one player who deserves credit for his effort this season: Cristian Penilla.
So far this season, Penilla has been New England’s most effective, high-performing individual player. He has one assist, swinging in a terrific cross from a short corner for Teal Bunbury to smash home with a thumping volley in the season-opening 2-1 loss to the Montreal Impact. But that is just a part of his impact on the New England Revolution.
With the ball, Penilla has been excellent. He has used his speed to blow by defenders and cause panic in the opposing ranks. Against the Chicago Fire, he also showed off his silky skills. Penilla put on a show breaking a defender’s ankles in a truly spectacular showcase of agility and control.
But beyond that, his work-rate has been excellent. He has tracked runners into deep positions, won tackles, and showed the type of attitude and effort that fans have come accustomed to seeing from other players, not Penilla.
Penilla has also done a terrific job of securing possession and moving the ball up the pitch. His smart dribbling wins fouls, provides an outlet for the Revs to feed to release pressure, and he has shown a greater ability to protect the ball rather than losing it do defenders.
It has been very interesting to see Penilla’s rise. With players like Gustavo Bou and Adam Buksa on the roster, it was expected that they would be the stars. And it will be interesting to see how well Penilla does when Carles Gil returns to the lineup. Will he find himself freed to roam with Gil’s presence in the midfield or does the Spaniard’s control of possession limit Penilla’s impact?
But so far, through two games, Penilla has been the MVP for the New England Revolution. Without him, they would likely not even have a point to their name. And if he continues to play like this and slots into the team neatly when Gil returns, the Revs will be very dangerous indeed.