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Three Questions (And a bonus) with Steve Stoehr from The Bent Musket

As we roll on toward the first game of the 2014 Major League Soccer season, I had a chance to talk to Steve Stoehr of the Bent Musket about the Houston Dynamo's first opponent, New England Revolution.

Let's hope this scene is similar to the one today for the orange.
Let's hope this scene is similar to the one today for the orange.

Dynamo Theory: Heading into 2014, what do you consider to be New England's most underrated move this offseason?

Steve Stoehr: Most of the moves that the Revs made involving players that will impact the squad on an everyday basis have done anything but fly under the radar, and I refuse to consider first-round draft picks underrated acquisitions. Therefore, I'm going to have to go with a guy who may not make a single first-team Revolution appearance this season, and will, in all likelihood, spend the season in Rochester on loan.

Rookie defender Jossimar Sanchez was a late draft pick last year that the Revs didn't pick up. He was still recovering from a broken leg last Spring that kept him out of soccer, but the selection was more about the future than the 2013 season anyway. Now returned to health and with a full preseason behind him, Sanchez has seen some time across the back line and fills that kind of versatile backup role that Jay Heaps favors. Sanchez was a quite highly-touted prospect in college before his injury, and he definitely has the potential to grow and blossom into a regular MLS contributor. The question is whether or not that process begins this season, or if he becomes the first Revolution player to survive an entire rookie season in Rochester and make the following year's roster.

DT: How much does the injury to Andrew Farrell heading into Saturday's match hurt the Revs, and who steps into his role?

SS: It's a gap that too many people are ignoring. Farrell hit his rookie roadblocks last season, but there's no questioning that he was a fast, dependable, and constant presence on the right flank. His initiative in the attack, while lacking the finishing polish, kept opposing defenses honest, and his speed allowed him to easily recover when beaten. Plus, there's the chemistry he built with his teammates at the back, and such things are hard to replace.

There are capable options to fill the space, though. O'Brian Woodbine played most of the preseason, and he offers the same blazing speed and attacking impetus as Farrell. Woodbine has been with the team since the latter half of 2013, but this might be his first chance at meaningful MLS time. If not Woodbine, then Kevin Alston will likely start on the right, a role with which he is quite familiar.

DT: The Revs acquired Teal Bunbury this offseason via trade. How does he fit into the Revolution attack?

SS: He immediately becomes the guy who leads the line. There's been a lot of talk about how the Revs coaching staff and organization aren't pressuring Teal Bunbury to replace Agudelo, but let's all be honest here. That's why he's in Foxboro. Teal's skillset may not match Juan's point-for-point, but he's a lethal finisher with big-game experience, and if he can prove to play as well with his back to goal as he does facing it, he could be the lynch-pin in the Revolution attack. It hasn't been lost on anyone that the Revs were exciting but erratic without Juan Agudelo at striker; despite the reliance upon Fagundez, Sene, Rowe, and Nguyen, it's the ability of the team's Number Nine to threaten the opposing back four and bring others into the play that makes the attack work.

DT: Who is the better fox mascot? Slyde or Diesel? Who are we kidding? There's only one right answer..

SS: IT'S know, nobody wins this argument.

Projected Lineup

Shuttleworth; Alston, Goncalves, Soares, Woodbine; Caldwell; Fagundez, Rowe, Kobayashi, Mullins; Bunbury

Projected Scoreline

I'm going to go 1-1. I think the Revs will continue the good road form they had last season, but a win in Houston while missing Lee Nguyen and Saer Sene? I don't see it.

For Steve's questions for me as well as my answers, head over to The Bent Musket.