The New England Revolution appear to have solved multiple problems with their signing of Swedish-Syrian left back Gabriel Somi, who will join the team later this winter for preseason.
Somi’s arrival from Sweden’s Ostersunds FK, announced on January 5 after close to a month of rumors and speculation, provides depth on the back line and flank, plus competition on the left side of the pitch for Chris Tierney. It should, theoretically, also free Kelyn Rowe from having to leave his natural place in midfield to fill in at left back, which he did eight times last season.
With Tierney’s fitness called into question, former Revolution coach Jay Heaps decided to deploy Rowe as a defender time and again during the 2017 campaign instead of signing a true left back. To his credit, Rowe never complained publicly about playing a makeshift position – he told media numerous times that he’d happily play anywhere – and he even managed to accrue three assists in 2017 at left back.
Even so, Rowe was only a serviceable option on the back line. He was no revelation. The Revolution surrendered 61 goals last season, which was the most in the Eastern Conference and the third-most in the whole league. The club went 2-3-3 and conceded 16 goals when Rowe played left back. That’s not an indictment of Rowe. It just means his presence did little to positively or negatively affect an already porous back line.
However, having Rowe at the back decreased his opportunities, as one of the Revolution’s best attacking players, to enter the attacking third.
New Revolution coach Brad Friedel seems inclined to go a different direction.
Somi, 26, is a true left sided player. He split his time in left midfield and left back this fall with Ostersunds FK during their run to the Europa League knockout round. Somi also played in 15 league matches as a left back or in left midfield in 2017, accruing three goals and three assists.
Whether Somi fits in with the Revolution remains to be seen, but he’s nevertheless qualified to fight for a spot in Foxborough. That’s good news for New England’s back line, which has been short-staffed and vulnerable at full back since 2015, and Rowe, who can return to his rightful place in midfield.
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