New England Soccer Today

Five Questions: Revolution vs. Crew

Revolution center back A.J. Soares will be key in the Revolution’s defensive efforts this weekend. (Photo: Kari Heistad)

It’s been six years since the Revolution beat the Crew at home. Six years. Think about that for a second.

When the Revolution claimed a 3-2 win over Columbus on Oct. 14, 2006, the following items were fact:

1. Clint Dempsey was a regular in the Revolution XI;

2. The Designated Player Rule didn’t exist;

3. Seattle, Montreal, Portland and Vancouver were all second division teams, while Toronto and Philadelphia were markets in waiting.

It was a different world back then. Mind you, not profoundly different. We still had Ipods, HDTV and Jay Heaps hollering instructions – albeit in athletic attire.

Nevertheless, the Revolution will be aiming to bring back old times in Saturday’s clash against the Crew. They want  to party. Party like it’s 2006.

All silliness aside, let’s lean forward, rest our chin on the fist, and ponder. Ponder, that is, five questions going into Revs-Crew, Vol. 17, Issue 1.

1. Is Kelyn Rowe ready to return to the starting XI? In the last episode of the Revolution’s current season, Kelyn Rowe came on as a late-game sub and delivered the game-winning goal minutes later. Although there was little to zero chance that he was ready to start then in lieu of the mid-week Open Cup overtime shocker, Rowe won’t have tired legs this time around. Granted, Francisco Cardenas has played well out wide, where Rowe’s found the bulk of his time this season. But, don’t be surprised if Jay Heaps goes with the proverbial hot hand on Saturday.

2. Can Benny Feilhaber continue the form seen two weeks ago? The more I watch soccer, the more I believe that the creative mind often opens itself destructive tendencies. Case in point: Benny Feilhaber. Out on the wing, the midfielder with the spirit of a #10 gets frustrated fairly easily. But centrally? He is an artist. An artist who paints with intelligent passes, powerful shots, and piercing runs, as seen against Chicago. And against a similar squad this weekend, don’t be surprised to see Feilhaber with the palette in hand.

3. Will Saer Sene find the back of the net? Sene saw his three-game scoring streak snapped against the Fire, who did well to cancel the Frenchman’s chances two weeks ago. Granted, it wasn’t a complete off-night for Sene. He led Rowe to his first look in the 65th minute, and regularly combined with his midfielders. But this week, expect Sene to dial it up a notch. Like the Fire, the Crew aren’t especially strong on defense. Rather, they sit back and play for the counterattack – an approach that can frustrate a striker quite easily. However, expect Sene to exploit any doors left open inside the attacking third.

4. Can the Revs stay disciplined? It’s a primary virtue of a mature team: discipline. And last week, we caught the latest sign of a side that may be maturing before our eyes. Entering the 70th minute with the same score it started with, the Revolution could’ve abandoned the gameplan and carelessly pressed without rhyme or reason. They could’ve let frustration creep into their collective psyche and slid into wasteland of wishful shots. Instead, they stayed the course. They attacked with purpose. The lanes would open, of this they were certain. And they took advantage because they stayed disciplined and smart – something they’ll have to continue to do against the Crew’s plodding approach.

5. Is it too early to call Saturday’s clash a must-win? Not at all. Coming off two-weeks rest, the Revolution have to approach this game with greater significance. Not only is a stand-alone conference clash at home. It’s the beginning of a 13-game stretch where they play 12 conference opponents. This, in essence, is where seasons will be made. Or broken. Or stagnate. Granted, it won’t be the end of the season if the Revs fall short. But who inside the locker room wants to get started on the wrong foot?

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