1. Heir to Agudelo- The biggest Revolution's biggest off-season loss was Juan Agudelo, who opted not to re-sign with MLS and try his luck in Europe. Agudelo, being one of the US' best offensive players, is hard to replace. But Teal Bunbury may be a suitable person to fill Agudelo's shoes. Since arriving, Bunbury, 24, has embraced the change of scenery. He has already featured prominently in Jay Heaps' lineup, logging 141 minutes in preseason play. Bunbury made the most of his time on the field, too, tallying two strikes that were indicative of a goal-hungry player. The first was a slick finish off an easy on the eyes feed from Diego Fagundez; the second, a bullet from long distance that flew into the back of the net. It's still early in Bunbury's Revolution career but the verdict from preseason is that he's able to contribute significantly in the attacking third.
2. The story with Goncalves- The reigning MLS Defender of the Year is, reportedly, unhappy. The source of his unhappiness seems to be the salary he is garnering. Both the Revolution and Goncalves said earlier this winter that the two parties would sit down and discuss the situation, though there has been no confirmation from either side that those talks have taken place. These are former Revolution striker and ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman's words: "Have you heard the rumors in preseason? He wears head phones, he doesn't talk to press, he warms-up by himself." Is there still cause for concern? Have the disputes been resolved? Will Goncalves be in New England for the foreseeable future? Without Goncalves, last year's captain and a defensive brick wall, there is no doubt that the Revolution will be weaker. Much of the team's success in 2014 will hinge on what happens with their leader in central defense. The playoffs will be excruciatingly hard to reach without him.
3. Brave New World- The 2014 New England Revolution is a good team. But is being a good team enough to take them into the playoffs a second consecutive time? This off-season wasn't just about the Revolution retaining and replacing talent. It also saw a huge growth in the quality of players MLS brings in, particularly in the Eastern Conference. Sporting Kansas City, New York Red Bulls, and Toronto FC are hard to look past as shoo-ins to make the playoffs, even if the season has yet to start. On par with the Revolution is essentially every other team in the conference. Success in 2014 will come down to three things: consistency, limiting errors, and attacking the schedule. Teams may still catch fire (sort of like the 2013 Revs did after a 5-0 win over Los Angeles) but constant good play will be needed to enhance those runs and make a playoff push. Every team will allow some ugly goals. But the playoff caliber teams will be the ones who either overcome those deficits or limit the untimeliness of the goals they allow. Lastly, road wins and ties will be extremely valuable; losing twice in a row at home could be devastating.
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