New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: Revolution at Sporting K.C.

Saer Sene was a noticeable absence from the Revolution’s starting XI on Saturday. (Photo: Kari Heistad/

It wasn’t a win. But then again, it wasn’t a loss, either.

On Saturday, the Revolution may have fallen short of three points. But, they proved that all draws aren’t created equal in hijacking a valuable point at LIVESTRONG Sporting Oven, er, Park against the first-place-turned-second-place Sporting K.C.

Sure, the Revolution XI failed to crack to scoreboard. Heck, they really didn’t even test Jimmy Nielsen. But, there were a number of encouraging signs. Cohesiveness was one. The return of Shalrie Joseph and Stephen McCarthy, another. And of course, there was the remarkable performance Matt Reis put in. In hockey parlance, it was a positive point.

So what did we learn from Saturday’s scoreless draw?

1. In case any more proof was needed, Saer Sene’s benching only confirmed that Jay Heaps subscribes to the “what have you done for me lately” approach when he fills out the starting XI. It was one of the most – if not the most – curious formation seen this season. But whether it looked like a 4-5-1, a 4-6-0 or a 4-1-4-1, the biggest surprise was the absence of the Revolution’s leading scorer. Nevermind that the Revs were facing a first-place club on the road. Or the fact that K.C.’s two-headed beast up top promised goals aplenty. None of that mattered. What mattered was that Sene wasn’t producing. In his last seven, the French forward only found the back of the net once. And perhaps most strikingly (or comically, depending upon your disposition toward these sorts of things), his misses were finding the 12th row of The Fort, section 139 and the northbound lanes of Route 1. So Heaps decided it was time to hold Sene accountable. The message: start producing or get used to the bench. Heaps doesn’t want to win next year. He wants to win now. And that means everyone is on a short leash.

2. Shalrie Joseph’s best days may be numbered, but Saturday proved they’re not over. Not by any stretch. The praises of Shalrie Joseph have been sung by many. And for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s his propensity to push forward at the right time, or his ability to settle down or speed up the attack, or his uncanny ability to keep his teammates on the same page, much, if not all, of the adulation is well-deserved. But with a fierce K.C. attack ready to put the Revolution on its knees, the skipper stepped up and delivered. Whether it disrupting Graham Zusi or collecting turnovers, Joseph put in one of his finest performances of the season on Saturday – and against one of the strongest sides in the league. Who said the skipper’s best days are over?

3. It was an interesting idea, and yes, he did get Man of the Match. But Ryan Guy as the lone striker gave the Revolution the exact number of goals they should’ve expected to come from it: zero. This isn’t a criticism of Guy. By no means. If anything, Guy’s performance on Saturday was admirable. To be fair, he put the only two shots on goal for the Revolution. But aside from his fourth minute effort, Guy didn’t deliver the goods expected from a center forward. And as the de facto #9, the 5-7 speedster struggled to hold the ball and find teammates deep in the final third. The effort, of course, never waned. It never does with Guy. And he did a lot of positive things given the cicumstances. But by isolating him up top, Guy was forced into a role where his best assets – pace and vision – were effectively wasted.

4. Barring injuries or sudden drops in form, Matt Reis looked like man who’s ready to hold on to the starting keeper job for the rest of the season. Only a week ago, there existed a real possibility that Reis was in danger of losing his job to Bobby Shuttleworth. After all, the longtime starter’s form had dipped recent weeks, forcing Heaps to take a hard look at the understudy. But on Saturday, Reis resumed the form that helped steer the Revolution to back-to-back-to-back MLS Cup appearances. Crosses and corners? No problem. Tough shots? Stopped them. Communication? Improved, save for a couple of hairy sequences. All in all, though, the Reis of yesteryear emerged, and none too soon with K.C.’s attack ready to put the Revolution on their back. But, perhaps more importantly, it reminded Heaps of the goalkeeper who could be counted upon when all else failed.

5. The Revolution locker room needs to form a kangaroo court ASAP. They need to do this for one reason, and one reason alone: fining Kevin Alston a Benjamin for every shot he takes from outside the area. There’s no doubt that the fourth-year right back loves to push up and force the issue. And for that, he deserves all the credit in the world. In a sense, he plays the way Jay Heaps wanted to play when he was in a Revolution kit. But, for heaven’s sake, someone needs to tell Alston – heck all defenders – one very important piece of advice: don’t shoot from outside the area. Don’t do it. Put the brakes on and either find a teammate. Or, in the alternative, take a touch or two and examine the options. Unless there’s a wide open net ahead, and all the lasers in training and pre-game practice are bulging the net, there’s no reason for 25-yard rockets. None. This isn’t Disneyland. This is reality. And reality dictates that defenders avoid ambitious shots, with Alston’s 42nd minute long-distance bid as proof.


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