So much for starting off the post-Shalrie Era on the right foot.
In a game that the Revolution looked mildly-interested at best, Sporting Kansas City threw their weight around, stole a goal, and pounded their opponent into submission on Saturday night.
Once again, the Revolution were out-muscled off the ball at home. And once again, the Revolution could do nothing about it. Nothing.
For all the talk about making Gillette Stadium a fortress, the fact is this: the Revolution have only collected four points in their last four home games. One point per game. Fortress? More like a low-budget motel.
And with Joseph out of the picture, Saturday’s 1-0 loss suggests that it’s going to be awful tough for the Revolution to reassert themselves at home. Awful tough.
So what else did we learn from Saturday’s punchless performance from the local XI?
1. It’s not about what you bring to the table, it’s how you adjust. During his tenure in New England, Steve Nicol made it a habit of concerning himself with his team’s approach rather than that of the incoming opponent. And during his final two seasons, the Revolution paid the price for that mindset. Well, on Saturday, it looked like deja vu all over again. Instead of tweaking the gameplan or adjusting to the punishment, the Revolution kept trying the same things. They kept trying to keep the ball on the ground. They kept trying to re-establish their attacking rhythm. And look at all the good it did them. Yes, Jay Heaps made attacking subs in the second half. But even though they’d seen the likes of Columbus and Toronto come in and grind it out for 90 minutes, the Revolution fell victim again to same ol’ tactic. The lesson: you can attack all you want. Go for it. But unless you make the necessary adjustments, the result is always going to be the same.
2. There’s a significant drop in leadership with Joseph no longer around. Before we talk about Clyde Simms here, the following should be noted. Simms is a smart player who does a lot of little things right. And there’s value in what he does, especially on this team. No question. But let’s face it: Clyde Simms is no Shalrie Joseph. Obviously not as a player. And most certainly not as a leader. Saturday night was prime example of that. With his teammates getting thrown to the ground time after time, what did Simms do? Nothing. He wasn’t getting in the face of Matt Besler or Lawrence Olum. Or anyone else in powder blue, for that matter. It’s just not his style. A leader has to fire up the emotions while getting the guys to buy into his approach. And Simms’ approach played right into K.C.’s gameplan.
3. Dimitry Imbongo is a second string striker, and nothing more. The newest addition to the roster certainly got himself on the highlight reel on Saturday night. On a perfect pass from Benny Feilhaber early, Imbongo not only missed. He missed big. It was a miss of Khano Smith proportions. OK, so maybe it was early. Sometimes, it takes awhile for the jitters to settle. But in the 49th minute, Imbongo was granted an opportunity for redemption. Chris Tierney could not put a better cross in front of frame to the unmarked Imbongo. The rest should’ve been elementary. It wasn’t. Instead, the French forward escorted it over the bar. And what does he do? He shouts at Fernando Cardenas – who played it Tierney on the sequence in question – for not playing it through. It was a low-class act for a player who’s quickly proving to be a low-class striker.
4. Jerry Bengtson can’t come back soon enough. Here’s a stat to chew on: since Jerry Bengton’s debut goal on Jul. 8, the Revolution have scored exactly two goals. Two goals – one of which was a complete circus goal (sorry, Lee Nguyen) – in five games. Think Heaps misses his Honduran striker much? With the attack stuck in neutral for nearly a month, it’s clear that the Revolution need someone to start converting their chances. Not that there were many on Saturday. But you have to think that Bengtson finds a way to, at very least, test Jimmy Nielsen. At minimum, the two chances that Imbongo murders never happen because he’s on the bench. Heck, maybe Bengtson slides one – or both – of those chances through. We’ll never know. But what we do know is this: Bengtson’s return can only help this club.
5. The Revolution are a team that, at the present moment, is in danger of losing its identity. Not to harp on the Joseph trade for too long, but with the Grenadian gone, there’s no question this team’s confidence is rapidly disintegrating. And not just because of the winless streak. Yes, that’s certainly not an indication that thing’s are on the up and up in Foxboro. Quite the opposite, in fact. But with Joseph gone, Saturday showed that the Revolution are a team that’s clearly losing its identity. Yes, they’re going to attack. Heaps will ensure that. What happens when a team like K.C. comes in ready for a streetfight? What happens when the chips are down? Easy: you get the opposite of what happened at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park two weeks ago. You get a team that acquieses. A team that buckles. In short, you get a team that doesn’t know who it is. And if you don’t know what you are, how can you believe in what you’re doing?