2018 Key Transfers: New England Revolution

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we will be running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at New England Revolution and their key signings ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

The 2017 season wasn’t one New England Revolution fans will remember fondly. The team finished seventh in the Eastern Conference for the second successive season. Their 13-15-6 record wasn’t terrible but the squad underperformed and conceded far too many goals. Only LA Galaxy and Minnesota United conceded more goals than the Revs (61) last time out. Brad Friedel has replaced Jay Heaps as the new head coach and Revs fans will hope his arrival ensures the defence is more solid in 2018 as they look to return to the playoffs. Lee Nguyen’s future remains unclear as the playmaker still wants out. He has returned to preseason training but it looks like being a long and potentially damaging transfer saga for both the club and the player…

Key Signings

Cristian Penilla: With Kei Kamara leaving (more on that below), New England had to ensure they brought in a fresh attacking option. The man they have turned to is Ecuadorian striker Cristian Penilla. The 26-year-old has played in the top flight in Brazil, Ecuador and Mexico, playing over 200 games. He joins New England on loan but with the option to buy at the end of the season. He might end up being a Designated Player for the Revs, but they are also considering using Targeted Allocation Money to buy down his contract if another big signing is made.

Jalil Anibaba: The Revs addressed their defensive issues by signing experienced MLS defender Anibaba. The 29-year-old joins the club after leaving Houston at the end of the 2017 campaign. He has played 166 regular season games since 2011 for Chicago, Seattle, Sporting KC and Houston. He might not be a regular starter but he’ll add some vital depth across the entire backline.

Wilfried Zahibo: Expect to see a lot of Zahibo in 2018. The French midfielder is a powerful ball-winner, who is vastly experienced despite being just 24. He joins the Revs on a free transfer after leaving Spanish second division side Gimnastic de Tarragona. He has previously played for Ajaccio, Fuenlabrada and Valencia. Friedel is likely to use Zahibo alongside Scott Caldwell in the centre of midfield.

Gabriel Somi: Another defensive addition, Somi is a Swedish-born Syrian who is most comfortable at left-back, but can play a number of positions. He joins on a free after departing Östersunds FK, who have been one of the Europa League’s success stories in 2017/18.

Notable Departures

Kei Kamara: The powerful striker has moved on after one-and-a-half seasons. It comes as no surprise after the player admitted he had never completely settled following his move from Columbus Crew midway through the 2016 season. His next challenge will be in Vancouver, after the Canadian side sent the Revs their first-round pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft in a trade for Kamara. He scored 12 goals and assisted five more in 31 games in 2017.

Benjamin Angoua: The 31-year-old defender leaves New England after just one season. He played 26 games and the club had the option to make his loan move permanent but declined after the Revs struggled so badly at the back in 2017.  He has since returned to France with Guingamp.

Xavier Kouassi: The midfield enforcer is perhaps unfortunate to have been moved on after just two seasons. Kouassi joined the Revs as a Designated Player in 2016 but was ruled out for the season after picking up a serious injury almost immediately. He played 23 games in 2017 and was impressive when healthy. However, New England decided not to give him one more season and have replaced him with Zahibo.

Gershon Koffie: Another midfielder to have left is Gershon Koffie. The 26-year-old has returned to Swedish side Hammarby after his loan expired. He played 23 games last season but couldn’t really stamp his mark on the midfield, despite his reputation of being a tough-tackling box-to-box engine. His departure, along with Kouassi’s and Daigo Kobayashi’s means the Revs will have a very different midfield in 2018.

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Seattle and Vancouver share spoils in exciting Cascadia Cup showdown

The Seattle Sounders grabbed a late penalty to ensure that the points were shared in the Cascadia Cup meeting against the Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place as an exciting game ended 2-2.

Inside the first 3 minutes, Gershon Koffie was already testing the Seattle goal but the effort was smartly dealt with at the near post by goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

Koffie was at the heart of the action soon after, when he struck a long range effort against the crossbar following a storming run towards the Sounders goal.

But against the run of play in the 35th minute, the home fans were left stunned when a cross from Kenny Cooper found Chad Barrett, who was making his first start for the club, and he nodded in a beautiful header for his second of the season.

However the Sounders lead was short lived when Erik Hurtado intercepted the ball inside his own half, passing the ball to Bowen who then found Chilean Moralez with a wonderful first-time ball back into Hurtado who dazzled Osvaldo Alonso, not once but twice.

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Hurtado then blasted past Frei and into the Sounders net from a tight angle, drawing the home side level at the 38th minute mark.

The 60th minute saw Manneh break free again, but he was denied once more  by the rushing Frei.

But five minutes later the Whitecaps took the lead, as Frei’s clearance from near the touchline fell to Koffie who chested the ball down, allowing a bounce before taking it on and volleying into an empty Seattle net from over 30 yards, sending BC Place into raptures.

Inside the last ten minutes the Sounders got the chance to equalize after Jay Demerit was unfortunately penalised for bashing into the back of Cam Weaver in the air.

With regular Sounders penalty taker Clint Dempsey away with the USMNT, it was up to Mexican Gonzalo Pineda to take it under serious pressure.

Pineda stepped up and coolly put the ball into the net, making it look easy with his chipped finish, bringing Seattle level going into the last ten minutes.

The goal seemed to inspire the Sounders as Obafemi Martins came charging towards the  Vancouver goal before striking the post, in an effort which would of surely won the game for the Sounders.

Six minutes added time were added on at the end of an exciting game and Vancouver went close to snatching the game in the  92nd minute, but Koffie’s effort was straight at Frei.

Both sides now move on with the Whitecaps carrying on their battle for the Cascadia Cup next week against Portland Timbers, whilst a top of the table clash between Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake takes place next Saturday.

Highlights via MLS on YouTube:

Reo-Coker set to leave Vancouver but where could he go next?

Nigel Reo-Coker looks set to leave the Vancouver Whitecaps at the end of the month according to reports, but could stay in MLS.

A report from TEAM1040 reporter, Mike Martignago suggests that Reo-Coker will leave the Whitecaps on the 25th May after falling down the pecking order at the club.

The former West Ham and Aston Villa midfielder joined Vancouver before the start of last season, but hasn’t been involved as much this campaign.

Ghanaian midfielder Gershon Koffie has replaced Reo-Coker in the Whitecaps side, with the Englishman only seeing one minute of MLS action since March.

The 30-year-old injured himself earlier in the season, in a bizarre accident where he tripped over a bicycle rack in the Canadian city, with Major League Soccer’s official website describing the injury as an “off-field walking accident”.

Koffie came in for the injured Reo-Coker and has made himself a regular since, though the former Villa man played in the first-leg of last week’s Amway Canadian Championship semi-final against Toronto.

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He has been used as a right-back at times, though his preferred position remains in the centre of midfield and could make the switch to FC Dallas as a result.

Reo-Coker would not need to be made a designated player, but would stretch the salary cap of any team, with his $400,000 base salary.

Dallas may be looking to strengthen their midfield following the news that Hendry Thomas is out for 6-8 weeks, and a move for Reo-Coker is more than possible if he does depart Vancouver as reported.

Vancouver Whitecaps play the second-leg of their Canadian Championship semi-final against Toronto FC tonight.