New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: Revolution at FC Dallas

Only two things stood in the way of the Revolution claiming a precious road point in Frisco Thursday night: Juan Guzman’s watch and Ugo Ihemelu’s forehead.

After 94 minutes of holding on, Ihemelu’s 95th minute header ripped a road point right out of the Revolution’s clenched hand and snapped its mini-win streak at two.

With the last-gasp loss behind them, we analyze five things we learned from Thursday’s match.

1. Despite the late-game goal, the Revolution defense is definitely coming along. Sure, it may be easy to point the finger at A.J. Soares for his late foul on Blas Perez, which set up the game-winner. But taking a broader perspective, Soares had a sensational night. He cleaned up inside the box and communicated well with his fellow backs. Meanwhile, Stephen McCarthy may not have been Michael Parkhurst, but for the most part, he got the job done helping out Flo Lechner contain Brek Shea on the right. Meanwhile, Chris Tierney’s runs and passes sharpened the attack. It may not have been a first-choice back four from left to right, but they nonetheless bottled the Dallas attack for 94 minutes.

2. Lee Nguyen can’t do it all alone, so he’ll need to establish a rapport with the forwards. The former Hoosier certainly has a nose for goal, doesn’t he? And Thursday night, he made his intentions known in the second half with a number of runs in and around the area. But one area that he has to improve upon is getting the ball to Saer Sene and the rest of the forwards. After his initial set of runs inside the area, Dallas eventually crowded him with numbers – and it worked to perfection. Unable to get quality shots on frame Thursday night, Nguyen is going to have to start linking with the likes of Sene and, in the future, Moreno to help the Revolution avoid more goose eggs on the scoreboard.

3. The second half gave us a glimpse of what the Revolution midfield is capable of. During an impressive 20 minute window, New England sent waves of players into the attacking third. And it wasn’t the usual kick and rush stuff, either. Chris Tierney overlapped well, Ngyuen broke into the box, Kelyn Rowe helped along the edges, Shalrie Joseph provided support while Clyde Simms and Ryan Guy did well to get themselves involved. It was a display of might that, with better precision, could have netted a couple of goals.

4. Thursday night showed that the Revolution attack is going to need Jose Moreno to live up to his billing. How did the Revolution not score a goal between the 50th and 70th minutes? They dominated possession, they weaved balls through, widened the field, and put on a keep away clinic with Dallas defenders – so much so that it looked like the Hoops were playing a man down. What was missing? Well, a center forward in the mold of Moreno, at least given the way Dallas defended. Without having to worry about a big, physical forwward, they swarmed the edges and limited the effectiveness of the Revolution wingers. And it worked. If the Revolution are going to capitalize on their chances, they’ll need Moreno to play a vital role in the attack as the season progresses.

5. The scoreline may have stung, but Jay Heaps should be proud of his team’s effort. Say what you will about the result, but Thursday night’s performance was one of the Revolution’s best performances in the last two years. Sure, they may not have found the back of the net. But everyone played within themselves, for the most part. The attack was lively in the second half, and the defense did well to keep Shea relatively quiet (thanks, in large part, to Matt Reis). Was it a perfect game? No way. There were mistakes, of course. Yet, the way the team battled Dallas for 94 minutes on the road was something to behold. The stoppage time goal may have sent them to the locker room seething, but overall, Thursday night was another step forward for this club.

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