It’s often said that the best antidote to a humbling loss is a quick turnaround.
Well, the Revolution will get that on Wednesday at Stade Saputo.
Three days after suffering their first home loss to Toronto since, well, ever, the Revolution travel to Montreal for the first time since, well, ever. Ever for the first team, at least. The Revolution reserves played the Impact reserves in Montreal last month, but that’s another story entirely. The Reserve Division is bat-spit crazy.
But back to the first team. With the first of three road games in 11 days on tap, the Revolution have to start doing something they’ve only done once away from Gillette this year: win.
Not draw. Not fall into 2-0 halftime deficits. Not score 94th minute equalizers. Not any of these. But win, as in win. If the Revolution harbor any hopes of making a run once the leaves start to fall, then the time to start picking up three points is right about…now.
Another thing to start doing right now? Ask questions. Five of ‘em for good measure, of course.
1. Has Bobby Shuttleworth done enough to warrant a third start? This is a tough question to answer unless your name is Jay Heaps. Because, let’s face it, it all depends on what Heaps has in mind concerning his fourth-year keeper (who, if you can believe it, was actually a teammate of the gaffer in 2009). There’s evidence to suggest that Shuttleworth is on the verge of claiming the role on a full-time basis. Exhibit A: Two straight starts. Exhibit B: A stronger aerial presence than Matt Reis, which may or may not have led to Reis’ benching in the first place. However, it’s hard to offer a final verdict given that Shuttleworth has only seen seven combined shots against two largely-lethargic attacks in the last two weeks. To his credit, he’s played with unmistakable confidence in those outings. That said, Shuttleworth certainly hasn’t done anything to pull him away from the starting XI.
2. Where will Shalrie Joseph play? That’s the question du jour for Wednesday. And, of course, there answer partially rests on the health of Stephen McCarthy. On Tuesday, he was listed as “questionable” due to “concussive-like symptoms,” so it’s likely he won’t see action only three days removed from his collision with Ryan Johnson. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll see Joseph return to McCarthy’s spot – especially on the road. That, combined with the return of Kelyn Rowe, may spell the return a five-man midfield, with the trio of Joseph, Clyde Simms and Benny Feilhaber in the center and, quite possibly, Darrius Barnes in McCarthy’s spot.
3. Will we see a better road team on Wednesday? It’s tough to judge how far along this team has come along since their last road game nearly four weeks ago. Sure, they’ve shown remarkable second half fight in D.C. and Toronto. And, aside from McCarthy’s injury, the usual starters are all healthy and ready to go. Yet, the fact is that the Revolution just came away with only four points from three straight home games. Three straight games in which they faced the slumping Sounders, the Thierry Henry-less Red Bulls and the bottomfeeding Reds. Four points from that threesome. Think about that for a second. In light of that, a team that really hasn’t shown its mettle at home probably isn’t strong enough to show it on the road.
4. Will we see the return of the 4-5-1? Saer Sene may be listed as a striker in the gameday program, but there’s no question that Heaps likes the idea of his goldilocked goalscorer out on the wing. And there’s evidence to suggest why it’s not a bad idea. Recently, Sene has displayed an uncanny knack for putting through deadly passes at a moment’s notice. And the stats seem to suggest that Sene’s passing – which, according to the analyses performed by the people behind the MLS Castrol Index, is better than that of fellow forward Chris Wondolowski - makes him a serious threat to collect an assist or two on any given night. That, combined with a slew of healthy midfielders, likely gives Heaps sufficient reason to unleash a five-man midfield against Montreal.
5. Which bench guys can expect to see more playing time? In addition to the regulars, expect Heaps to spend extra time examining his options on the bench with three road games in the next 11 days. And with only four players on Tuesday’s injury report, the Revolution head coach has a wealth of options at his disposal. The first players that come to mind? Ryan Guy, the quintessential supersub who can play virtually anywhere. Then there’s Diego Fagundez, the classic sparkplug off the bench. Fernando Cardenas is always an option for Heaps, while new signing Dimitry Imbongo and a convalescing striker Jose Moreno may see the field as well. Recently, Heaps hinted that he likes having to make tough gameday decisions. If that’s the case, then he’ll have a field day plotting his subs during this road trip.