New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: Revolution vs. Fire

If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again. And again. And again. And again seven more times.

After going winless in their last 10 regular season games, the Revolution finally handed the Fire a defeat during Saturday’s 2-0 victory at Gillette Stadium.

While the Revs were pleased to snap the embarrassing streak, there were other storylines unfolding between the first and final chirps of the whistle.

1. Kelyn Rowe just made his strongest case to return to the starting XI. It was a cameo to remember for the rookie midfielder. A goal and an assist within a three minutes span? Not a bad night at the office, if you ask me. But more important than the goal and assist were the circumstances. With Fernando Cardenas establishing himself in recent weeks, it looked as if Rowe was starting to fade from Jay Heaps’ radar. But in a 36-minute cameo, the Rowe did more than re-establish himself. He reminded Heaps of the potential. And, perhaps more importantly, Rowe reminded everyone that why he belongs in the starting XI.

2. The Revolution are learning how to become a second half team. After scoring only 3 of their first 14 total goals in the second half, the Revolution have scored their last four after the interval. Earlier in the season, the Revolution played like a young team. Early scores, which were often followed by late-game failures. Now, by no means, are they out of the woods when it comes to crunch-time defense. There’s still work to be done. But if the last two games tell us anything, it’s that the Revolution are getting closer to clocking in legitimate 90 minute efforts.

3. Saturday night may have – OK, DEFINITELY – unleashed the real Benny Feilhaber. And if he’s here to stay, the Revolution will have one of the best midfields in MLS. It had been a frustrating season for the inside/outside midfielder. With the ball at his feet, Feilhaber was often guilty of trying to do too much. Too many dribbles. Too many wild shots. Too many errant passes. That all changed on Saturday. In picking up his first goal and assist of the season, we saw a glimpse of the Benny Feilhaber who played in a World Cup two years ago. The playmaker. The number 10. Although the Revolution, on the whole, are feeling the absence of Clyde Simms, Feilhaber showed just how dangerous he can be without the chains.

4. Fernando Cardenas really, really likes his left foot. In the grand scheme of his 64 minutes, the diminutive dribbler contributed creativity and pizzazz to the attack. He flashed his purple boots on a series of confidenet step overs in the final third.  But one thing Cardenas really doesn’t seem confident about is his right foot. For the latest example of that, check out rewind back to the 42nd minute and the left-footed shot that died on Jalil Anibaba’s clearance. With time to whip in a quick right-footed shot, he took an extra touch to chip it with his left. Granted, a right-footed shot would have been and outswinging effort and it could have had no chance. He’ll learn, of course. But, for now, it looks like Cardenas is going to rely heavily on his left foot until he figures it out.

5. Jay Heaps is prescient. Seriously. When Heaps brought on Rowe for Cardenas a little after the hour, there had to be a few raised eyebrows. Rowe? The same Rowe who went 120 minutes in Tuedays soggy overtime loss on City Island? You want a player who’s legs couldn’t have been 100% fresh to spark the unspectacular attack? Why not Diego Fagundez? Well, it only took nine minutes to answer all of these questions. In the post-game presser, Heaps said Rowe had a certain “buzz” about him. An electricity. And Heaps read it perfectly.


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