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Four questions with Jake Catanese of the Blazing Musket



Carl Gulbish/Philadelphia Soccer Now
In a battle of bad vs. worse (we’re not sure which is which, yet), the Philadelphia Union are set for a quick turnaround from Wednesday’s loss to New York City FC with a Saturday match against the New England Revolution.
We reached out to our very good friend, Jake Catanese of the Blazing Musket, to get the inside scoop on the last-place team in the Eastern Conference.
Philadelphia Soccer Now: It isn’t easy to replace Bruce Arena, but Caleb Porter doesn’t seem to have done a great job. I saw something about him getting in a shouting match with a player — what was that about and how has Porter done in his first months on the job?
Jake Catanese: The nice way of saying it is that Caleb Porter both had a large mess to clean up and big shoes to fill following Arena’s…let’s call it sudden departure last year. Ideally, the Revs on the field just needed a morale reset – they were 2nd behind Cincy when the Arena saga kicked off last year – and bolster the backline in particular with a few veterans to make a serious push back into the high playoff seeds. Well, that whole thing has backfired spectacularly.
The shouting match I believe occurred recently with Nick Lima, who in the absence of starting fullbacks Brandon Bye (long-term injury from last year) and DeJuan Jones (short-term injury from a few weeks ago) has done a great job. Lima seemed to react to additional instructions from Porter with less-than-kind terms and the not-nice way of wrapping up Porter’s job so far is that he’s overcomplicating things with a system that doesn’t fit his team.
The Revs are great at quick, direct counters and Porter has them playing out of the back. While it’s really nice to play UCL ball, this is MLS and I think the simpler the better especially for a new coach that is constantly shuffling his backline for not just injury but also tactically. Having different players in your backline every game day get in rondo practice in your own penalty area seems detrimental to a team with Carles Gil on it, but that’s just me. Whatever message Porter is trying to send, it’s not working and the Revs are very much close to digging a hole they might not be able to get out of. Weirder things have happened in MLS, the Revs have some spectacular second-half-of-the-season runs in their history, but I think there are still issues that run deeper than just Caleb Porter likes to play out of the back.
PSN: The past two years, we’ve seen New England develop some great goalkeeping talent. This year, the Revs have allowed 22 goals and seem to have switched starters (from my view, at least). What’s going on with that unit?
JC: So obviously when you sell two keepers to the EPL in as many years, at some point you’re going to sign a player who is just merely a good MLS-level keeper and not a shot-stopping god. Henrich Ravas, I think, is a good keeper who did some pretty good things in CCC play in particular and was improving when I guess it was decided that the Revs wanted something more from that position. Based on the postgame from the Revs’ May 4 win over Chicago, that seems to be doubling down on the possession game:
“It does help when you have guys like Aljaz and Arreaga because both of those guys are very good on the ball and they are smart players,” Porter said.
Now, I can absolutely buy that signings like Aljaz Ivacic and CB Xavier Arreaga make the Revs better as far as talent, but when you already signed Ravas and Jonathan Mensah at the same positions in the preseason, the acquisitions seem very strange right at the end of the primary window two months in. The Revs defensively have not been at full strength yet this season and combined with extra CCC games it’s been rough, but I think there is a lot of instability being added to the situation by the Revs coaching/front office staff that isn’t helping.
PSN: If anything, what’s going well for New England?
JC: The Revs are getting back U22 Initiative signing Dylan Borrero, who is starting to get up to full fitness after a season-ending injury last year. Esmir Bajraktarevic tries a lot of Clint Dempsey stuff. UConn is good at basketball. That’s about it.
PSN: Per tradition, will New England have any notable absences? What are your score and lineup predictions?
JC: Tomas Chancalay will miss the game due to a yellow card suspension, look for a platoon of Borrero/Ema Boateng for those minutes. Nacho Gil took a knock a few weeks ago and is likely out until June. Fullback is still a question mark as I think DeJuan Jones is back in training but might not be full game-ready, we’ll see. Spaulding/Lima/Farrell have been the reserve rotation there with Bye still on the mend.
4-2-3-1: Ivacic; D Jones, Arreaga, Kessler, Lima; Polster, Buck; Borrero, C Gil, Bajraktarevic; Vrioni
The Revs really need this game, and I think they do it in helter-skelter fashion by scoring very early and holding onto a 1-0 win despite the Union putting up like 2+ xG in the second half. Any other result than this is a multi-goal Union win.

Joe is a junior at Penn State studying journalism and sports studies, among other things. He's covered the Union since 2017 and has written for Brotherly Game / Philadelphia Soccer Now since 2019. He seeks to answer life's greatest questions, such as, "How did I get here?" and "Where is that large automobile?" You can find Joe on Twitter (iamjoelister) or via email (

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