New England Revolution (3W-2D-1L) welcomes another I-95 club to Gillette Stadium this weekend as New York Red Bulls (2W-0D-3L) trip to Foxborough.
The Revs sit atop the Eastern Conference with 11 points, having suffered a single defeat, 2-0 to Nashville SC a couple of weeks back. With an attack led by Gustavo Bou, Adam Buksa, and Carles Gil, New England has emerged as one of the better offensive teams in the league a season after struggling to convert chances.
Red Bulls season seemed to be getting on track following back-to-back wins over Chicago Fire FC and Toronto FC, but any momentum from those wins has indeed already faded. It’s been a season already full of ups and downs for Red Bulls that hit even more turbulence this past weekend. As first reported by our own Kristian Dyer, defensive stalwart Aaron Long went down with a season-ending Achilles injury in a 1-0 loss to Philadelphia Union. Head Coach Gerhard Struber possesses a talented squad, but it lacks experience. Tactically, Struber faces a challenging situation replacing one of the league’s best defenders.
One of the many I-95 derbies to exist in MLS Universe, I think these clubs have met enough that it deserves its own name. DC United-New York Red Bulls have the Atlantic Cup, NYFC and Red Bulls have the Hudson River Derby, DC United and Philadelphia’s rivalry has three names depending on who you ask. With that, I’ve decided to go with the Nor’easter Derby for Rev-Red Bulls.
Since the Red Bull takeover in 2006, New York and New England have faced off 66 times, with New England having the slight edge with 30 wins to Red Bulls 25 and a further 11 draws. In their 11 most recent matches, they remain competitively close. New York had taken five, while New England’s taken four with two draws mixed in. All 11 of their recent matchups have also been decided by just a single goal, further highlighting the ultracompetitive energy this rivalry brings out of each club.
Last time, Red Bulls edged the Revs 1-0 courtesy of an 89th-minute goal by none other than Aaron Long.
The “Other” Midfielder
Usually, the most discussed young midfielder involved in a Red Bulls match would be RB Leipzig-bound Caden Clark, the 17-year old wonderkid with a killer instinct for goal. After that, it would probably Frankie Amaya, the first overall pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft.
This isn’t about either of them.
We’re here to talk about the much less-heralded, Maciel.
A 21-year old Brazillian native, Maciel joined the New England Revolution set up in January 2020 and soon became a mainstay for Revolution II in USL League One. A product of the Botafogo F.R Academy, he showed enough in the pre-season and training with the first-team to have been handed a start in New England’s 2-0 victory over Atlanta United. He has appeared in each Rev’s game since. Had it not been for a leg injury, the Brazillian would have featured in all six matches.
A diminutive central midfielder who can also drop into a deeper #6 role, Maciel possesses an excellent work rate that makes him a reliable defender and steady force moving forward. Energy isn’t the only thing the midfielder brings to the table, his passing ability being one of the main components for his first-team promotion. Through four games, Maciel has completed a staggering 92.7% of his passes. These aren’t give-backs or short passes either. The midfielder can be a force passing from deep positions, where he is 11-for-12 when attempting long balls this season.
Maciel may not be as exciting as some of the midfielders he is going up against, but the guy is damn good and primed for a sturdy career.
He’s already been mentioned a few times, but here is the word on Aaron Long.
Since arriving in New York as a throwaway from Seattle Sounders, Long has developed into one of the league’s best defenders and a success story courtesy of Red Bulls coaching. There was a time when coaches couldn’t find a position for the 27-year old, but it was Red Bull that settled him in as a centreback, launching a career that has led to 140 first-team appearances, 21 United States Men’s National Team caps, and a 2018 MLS Defender of the Year award.
Arguably the league’s best defender in the air, Long pairs his incredible jumping ability with keen defensive awareness that has him ranked in the 98th percentile for aerial duels won over the last year. The USMNT defender is tenacious, maintaining a high work rate throughout 90 minutes and forcing ball carriers into less than ideal situations.
Away from the ball, Long is adept at sweeping up passes and clearing his lines when the time comes.
Red Bulls are thin at the backline, and there isn’t just one person who can replace Long. I wouldn’t be surprised to see reinforcements via the transfer market, but that won’t be before Saturday.
Score Prediction: New England Revolution 2-1 New York Red Bulls