Projected Starting Lineup:
Off the Bench: GK Doug Warren, FW Adam Cristman, MF/FW Sainey Nyassi, DF/MF Joe Franchino, DF Gary Flood, DF Rob Valentino, DF Amaechi Igwe
Sitting here watching the home season opener vs. Houston and I find it interesting that not one, but both of the Gambian youngsters are on the pitch for the Revs. Both are certainly to figure more into the year than previously though. Kenny Mansally had a monster of a preseason and Nyassi took some strides with him.
On to the forwards and Mansally has apparently won the fight vs. Cristman and already in opener, you can tell why. The Gambian along with Twellman and Cristman makes a pretty decent frontline trio. The loss of Pat Noonan stings, but it seems like Nicol thinks his youngsters are ready. Steve Nicol looks to also give his wingers free reign with new signing Mauricio Castro, the aging but still productive Steve Ralston, and the youngster Nyassi. Wells Thompson will look to avoid a sophomore slump. The Revs have one of the strongest center midfields in league, even without the services of new St. Mirren man Andy Dorman (he's lighting it up over there by the way). Jeff Larentowicz and Shalrie Joseph, when on point, organize and connect both the offense and defense, making their transitioning almost seamless.
The defense has Jay Heaps moving into the center with Michael Parkhurst. His move to the center is to make room for the new acquisition of Chris Albright, who is coming off a long, arduous recovery from last year's season-ending injury. Khano Smith and Amaechi Igwe could potentially platoon at left back. Both, however, will provide more pace on the wing and a bit of an attacking flair. Other contributors will be second year Gary Flood and Clint Dempsey's favorite person Joey 'the Rat' Franchino. Depth issues were addressed with the signing of Chase Hilgenbrinck, who has returned from the professional ranks in Chile. He first landed in Colorado, but was waived and picked up by Nichol.
Need I say much about Matt Reis? The man knows how to organize a backline and keep the net clean. He's got all those MLS Cup appearances to prove for it. Doug Warren is a capable backup but might only see time in the Open Cup. Overall, the Revs lost some, gained some, but gained an attacking depth that could in fact push the Revs back into the MLS Cup. If they get there, they win it. If they lose, they lose early and it'll be because of a lack of depth.
Outlook: 2nd in the East