Depending upon who you ask, Saturday night’s 0-0 draw was either a step forward or more of the same from an inconsistent attack. Or both. Or neither.
The Revolution were aiming for three points, but fell two short of that goal. A win would’ve put them ahead of the Crew in the standings. Instead, they sank to seventh, only two points ahead of Montreal.
It wasn’t their best performance. But it wasn’t their worst, either. So what else did we learn from the scoreless draw?
1. Jose Moreno isn’t doing the attack any favors. For a guy who was as well-heralded and hyped during the preseason, the Colombian striker has done little to warrant the number pressed onto the back of his jersey. And it isn’t just his production. In the seven games Moreno’s played, the Revolution have averaged only one goal per game. In the games without him? 1.57, which still isn’t terribly impressive. But the stats underscore the fact that the attack actually performs better without him. Granted, the offense doesn’t revolve around one player. But when the expectations are as high as they are for Moreno, there simply isn’t much room in between “pass” and “fail.”
2. Last night’s performance proved that Stephen McCarthy has what it takes to succeed as a center back. One game does not make a career. But on Saturday, the center midfielder turned center back may have just turned a corner in his new role. With a series of key tackles and good passes (see the first minute pass that led to Benny Feilhaber’s teasing shot), McCarthy made a statement. The doubters will say that Emilio Renteria and the Columbus attack are nothing special, and that McCarthy really wasn’t tested. But the visual evidence will show that McCarthy was pressed into action often, and delivered in some key situations.
3. Despite the scoreline, Jay Heaps is right – the 0-0 draw was a step in the right direction. It may have been a tough result to swallow, but let’s take a look at the bigger picture: this is a rebuilding season. Yes, the team has played better than it did last season. The energy level has been noticeably higher. The fight has never wavered. But we can’t forget that this is a team that finished dead last in the conference. How’s this for a bucket of cold water in the face? Toronto finished better than the Revs last season. So, yes, there will be growing pains. They’ll almost certainly fall short a few more times before the season concludes. Meanwhile, the maturing will continue. Before you test Heaps’ positive outlook on the result, ask yourself this: would last year’s team have held on to get the draw?
4. Shalrie Joseph continues to prove his worth. This was a game that had Shalrie’s signature all over it. Against an opponent that wanted nothing more than a result, the skipper kept his squad level for much of the match. In the early going, the Revolution outshot the Crew 3-to-1. When the match began to deteriorate in the second frame, Joseph was there to provide cover in the rear and re-ignite the attack as the Revolution mined for the game-winner. His passing accuracy wasn’t shabby, either at 72%. But more than anything else, Joseph helped dictate the tempo. When the shots weren’t there, no worries. More chances would arrive. Overall, Joseph monitored the pulse of the proceedings, and steered his teammates to a result.
5. Although the Revolution defense certainly held its own, the Crew helped the effort by squandering its chances. For all the heroics the defense provided on Saturday, the fact is that the Crew could’ve taken advantage at various stages of the game. In the 8th minute, Milan Mirosevic took an ambitious shot right at Matt Reis, which was quickly followed up by a slow turn by Justin Meram that was stuffed by Lee Nguyen. In the 45th minute, Josh Williams header from a Nemanja Vukovic free kick (a sequence that looked identical to the one that Brandon McDonald scored on in D.C. on May 26) hovered well over the bar. Then, of course, was Renteria’s comical volley in front of frame that went well wide in the 65th minute. The Revolution team defense? Commendable. The Crew’s finishing? Regrettable.