New England Soccer Today

If defense wins championships…

As if things could not get any worse for the Revolution – who were officially eliminated from postseason contention on Monday – it appears as if they’ll head into tomorrow night’s match against the goal-hungry, top-of-the-table Real Salt Lake with only two fully-healthy defenders.

Kevin Alston, who sustained an injury near the half hour of the Columbus match, is doubtful to play in tomorrow’s match. Chris Tierney, the midfielder-turned-defender, will attempt to battle back after getting the late scratch on Saturday due to a knee injury. Oh, and then there’s Cory Gibbs, who’s recent hip infection may hinder his ability to play a full 90 tomorrow.

Of course, this predicament could have been averted months ago.

Back in April, the Revolution curiously broke preseason with only five defenders on its roster – Alston, Gibbs, Emmanuel Osei, Darrius Barnes, and Seth Sinovic. Considering that the flat four has been the preferred formation this season, carrying a single spare back was a risky proposition for this young club.

It became even riskier when Barnes and Osei sustained lengthy injuries during the first months of the season. Instead of waiving one of the many midfielders they had at their disposal and signing another body for the backline, New England stood pat, convinced that they could plug the holes with the affordable, in-house services of Tierney (not bad), Zak Boggs (not bad) and Khano Smith (not good).

Come the summer, Alston had limped off with tweaked hamstring. Then, Gibbs picked up quad and ankle injuries. Even the versatile Boggs was out, after suffering a concussion.

Yet, even after a roster spot opened itself up after Joseph Niouky was waived, the Revolution braintrust declined to bring in another player, nevermind another back. It was a decision that would have dire repercussions.

It’s now October, and for the first time in nine years, the playoffs will proceed without the Revolution this season.  With a negative-17  goal differential (the second worst differential in the league), it’s not a stretch to say that the failure to bring in defensive reinforcements cemented the team’s fate months ago.

If defense does indeed win championships, then the Revolution’s season was doomed before it even began.

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