New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: Revolution at Union

Revolution midfielder Kelyn Rowe couldn’t cash in on a golden opportunity in the 35th minute of Sunday’s game against the Union. (Photo: Kari Heistad/

Old habits die hard indeed.

In game they could – OK, should – have won, the Revolution fell into their usual routines of poor finishing and tentative defending to hand deliver a 2-1 win to the Union on Sunday.

To their credit, they didn’t back down. Not after the penalty, not after the Union threw numbers forward, and not even after  Jack McInerney beat Matt Reis in the 90th. The effort never waned.

But in MLS, effort alone gets very few teams anywhere. It gets them respect, it gets them praise at the home park, but not much else. Why? Because effort means very little when the execution and ideas aren’t in sync.

So what else can we take away from Sunday’s meltdown in Philly?

1. The Revolution will not make it the postseason. Yes, it may only be Jul. 30. Sure, 13 games remain. But it’s time to face the facts. In the last two weeks, the Revolution have lost three games to teams that sat below them in the standings. Three games. Three opportunities to climb into the hunt. Gone. Just like that. Good teams win the games they’re supposed to. At home or on the road. It doesn’t matter. Say what you will about bad calls or unlucky bounces, but the evidence is as clear as day: the Revolution had a chance to make a run this year, and they crumpled it up and tossed it into the wastebasket. Granted, there’s still time to do make a push. Still time indeed. But, in all honesty: what have they done to suggest that they can make winning a habit down the stretch?

2. Pepe Moreno’s days are numbered. Leading up to Sunday, Jay Heaps said he wasn’t looking to squeeze out another road draw against the Union. One point wasn’t enough. The season isn’t getting any longer, so it was three points or bust. And yet, who does Heaps leave off the game day 18? The Revolution’s new #9. Yes, Pepe Moreno. The same Pepe Moreno whose sole purpose was to go on goalscoring bonanzas. The Pepe Moreno the Revolution waited…and then waited some more to arrive in Foxboro. And yet, here we are, approaching the final third of the season, and Heaps leaves Moreno behind in a crucial game. If that isn’t a strong indication of what Moreno’s future – or at least what’s left it – is in a Revolution uniform, then Slyde isn’t an anthropomorphic fox.

3. The attack is in dire need of a general. You could say that Sunday’s loss boiled down to mistakes and missed opportunities, and you wouldn’t be wrong. At all. But after the game, Heaps mentioned that the game was essentially lost in the midfield. And you know what? Heaps is right. For much of the match, the Revolution were an army without a commander. It was every man for himself. At times, it looked like a group of five players who hadn’t played together before. Sure, the absence of Shalrie Joseph didn’t help matters. But if Joseph’s recent demotion to the bench suggests anything, it’s that someone needs to step up and lead the charge. And if that someone isn’t already on the roster? Well, they still have three open spots to work with.

4. The shifting in the midfield and final third made for a whole lot of confusion. It was certainly well-intentioned, alright: the idea behind Kelyn Rowe, Lee Nguyen, Ryan Guy and Saer Sene all moving around, switching positions and generally doing whatever they felt it would take to make Carlos Valdes’ head spin. Early on, it worked, with the Revolution scoring early and creating chances. But by the second half, two things were clear: 1.) the ideas started to fade and 2.) the Union’s switch from a 4-3-3 to a 3-5-2 left the Revolution vulnerable. With Nguyen here one minute, Rowe there another, Sene pushing up then dropping back and Ryan Guy seemingly lost in the chaos, it was easy pickings for the Union. The best way to undermine a good plan is to complicate it. But, somehow, the Revolution were compelled to do just that, only paid the price for it.

5. Saer Sene is afraid to shoot from inside the area. You could just feel the weight come off of Sene’s shoulders following his 12th minute trick shot from distance. Four weeks without a goal and, finally, the French forward could celebrate. It felt good to be back on the score sheet. Typically, those kinds of shots provide a much needed boost of confidence. And it did – in a sense. Because from there, Sene kept at it – long distance shot after another. So what’s going on? Well, it looked very much like Sene was content to bypass any opportunity to take it into the area. OK, so there was that one time in the 89th minute where he methodically (or slowly, depending upon your tastes and inclinations) went into the box before it was tackled away from him. Confidence waning? Feel free to play psychologist. But whatever it is, Sene still looks hesitant to take the point-blank shot.


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