New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: Revolution at Crew

Benny Feilhaber returned to form out on the left during Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the Crew. Feilhaber assisted on Jerry Bengtson’s 23rd minute tally. (Photo: Kari Heistad/

One-goal games.

It’s often said that good teams prevail in one-goal games. That, somehow, whether it’s squeezing out the lone goal of a 1-0 win, or grabbing the game-winner in an offensive outburst, good teams, more often than not, come out on top.

That said, the converse is also true: teams that aren’t so good fall short when the margin is slim. That when the pressure increases, they fold. Or, when the scoreline is tight, they manage to find a way to blow it. Here’s a lead, now smash it into a million pieces.

Note: 13 of the Revolution’s 14 losses have come from one-goal games.

Anyway, there’s this notion that the Revolution aren’t all that bad. That they’re competitive. That they are almost always within striking distance. And the one stat (aside from their five draws) that fuels that idea is the number of one-goal games they’ve played in – 15 for those keeping score.

Yet, of those 15, the Revolution won only twice. That’s a .113 win percentage in one-goal games, my friends.

Therein lies the problem with the “competitive” argument: the table isn’t all that bothered with how much a team loses by. A one-goal loss is worth the same as a five-goal loss: zero. The goal is to win, not to “stay in the game.” Not come close to three points. But to grab all three. Trophies aren’t handed out for “Most Competitive.” This isn’t a high school yearbook.

Losing is losing. And, at last check, the Revolution have lost quite a bit this season. In fact, with nine games remaining, the Revolution are on the verge of matching their loss total from last season.

Let’s stop glossing over the results and accept the reality: good teams find ways to win. Teams that aren’t so good find ways to lose. And last night, the Revolution, who blew a two-goal lead and conceded a season-high four goals, found a new way to lose.

So what else did we learn from the Saturday night’s shootout?

1. The high-line approach did wonders for the attack. On the flip side, it destroyed the defense.  Give Jay Heaps credit: he needed to mix it up. The attack needed a slap to the face. Seeing them score a goal every other game wasn’t cutting it. No, he needed to see his team produce goals – yes, goals. Plural. So he went with a roll of the dice: push up high and hope for the best. Well, it worked – almost. Yes, the Revolution jumped out to a two-goal lead. But Federico Higuain, Jairo Arrieta and even Eddie Gaven (who gave the defense headaches all night) handily exploited the approach. Yes, the Good Job, Good Effort Kid would have been proud. Three goals on the road? Not too shabby. On the other hand, the end result still spelled “L-O-S-S.”

2. In case you hadn’t noticed: Benny Feilhaber is miles better when he isn’t saddled with additional defensive duties. There’s no doubt that Feilhaber’s been one of the most criticized players on the roster this year. Some of it, of course, is completely justified. The stats, the temper, the inexplicable losses of form, etc. – all charges that the former National Team regular has been guilty of. But for all the self-inflicted damage he’s done, the one thing he can’t be faulted for is the defensive responsibilities he had to shoulder for the past month or so. The idea: have a technically sound presence fill on Shalrie Joseph’s role. On paper, or in FIFA 12, it may have worked. In reality? Not so much. Free of the weighted ball and chain, the playmaker, who was re-positioned out on the left last night, did what he’s paid to do: make plays.

3. Yes, the attack looked sharp, but the Revolution shouldn’t get used to it. Staking a 2-0 lead midway through the first half certainly gave their supporters hope. Hope that the offensive failings were finally a thing of the past. That the attack, which had averaged 1.40 goals/game in the first half of the season, was finally back. Well, that may be true: the Revolution may be bringing sexy, I mean, scoring back. On the other hand, however, it’s too soon to say that what ailed the attack has been miraculously cured. The fact is Saer Sene still isn’t scoring. Another fact: despite scoring the opener, Ryan Guy obliterated three gift-wrapped chances. One more fact: The midfield is still a work in progress. Seeing a three-goal scoreline was an encouraging sign, of course. But, don’t expect to see the same results very often during the final nine games.

4. It might be time to give the Bengtson-Fagundez combination a longer look. If Jay Heaps was given a dollar for every time he tinkered with the forward line, he’d have, well, lots of dollars. But one combination he hasn’t scribbled on the lineup sheet this season is Diego Fagundez and Jerry Bengtson. After coming on for Sene in the 65th minute, Fagundez not only provided spark, but also played well with Bengtson. Now, it’s hard to say that a 25-minute cameo should greatly influence Heaps’ gameday decision-making. The success of the Bengtson-Fagundez partnership could’ve been predicated entirely on a tired backline. But, at the same time, why not pair them together to start next week?

5. The Revolution FO could take some notes from the Crew FO on how to repair a roster. Remember when the Crew attack was little more than a rumor? Well, it’s not like that anymore. The reason? A couple of key acquisitions – namely, Higuain and Arrieta – have elevated the Columbus offense from mild to spicy. In their last three games, the Crew have scored eight goals. Yes, you read that right. The Crew are actually scoring more than one goal a game now. To its credit, the Revolution front office grabbed a goalscorer (a la Arrieta) when they signed Bengtson. But what they’ve failed to do is sign a set piece artist (a la Higuain). True story: Higuain scored twice as many set piece goals in one night than the entire Revolution squad has all season.


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