New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: Revolution vs. Chivas USA

Shalrie Joseph, who was traded to Chivas USA earlier this month, scored to goals en route to the Goats come-from-behind 3-3 draw in Foxboro on Wednesday. (Photo: Kari Heistad/

Apparently, Shalrie Joseph still has something left in the tank.

Less than a month ago, the 34-year-old midfielder went from franchise player to bench warmer. The explanations? There were plenty.

Some said his skills were eroding. The decision-making wasn’t as sharp. The errors far more frequent and egregious. The mental edge missing. So something had to be done.

But few predicted that the Revolution would trade away the eight-time All-Star.  Not during the season. And most certainly not for an unheralded third-year player, a 2nd-round pick and cash. By most appearances, it seemed like a classic 50-cents-on-the-dollar trade.

Shortly after, speculation ensued that Shalrie asked to be traded. That it was his idea. Yet, others contend that it was done by mutual agreement. That it was the last resort to preserve his legacy. We may never know.

What we do know is this: Shalrie Joseph can still carry a team on his back. He may have lost a step or two in recent years. But, when a team has the barrel pointed to its temple, there are few players in the league better than Shalrie Joseph at rescuing the situation – whether it’s for the Revolution or the Rojiblancos.

So what else did we learn from the wild, mid-week match?

1. Saer Sene is back – and he’s bad. Just when the local dairy was about to print milk boxes with the Frenchman’s mug on it, Sene re-emerges to score a pair of impressive goals. The first gained national attention as a SportsCenter Top Plays nominee. The second, unsurprisingly, was classic Sene: a rocket shot from distance. With a little refinement, he could’ve had a hat trick, as his far post chance skied over frame in the 29th minute. Even so, a two-goal night should bolster Sene’s confidence. And a confident Sene is a dangerous Sene.

2. The midfield needs to grow up – literally. In the late 1980’s, Walt Disney Pictures released a motion picture titled Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. The tale, for those of you who haven’t seen it, basically entails a scientist who’s new invention inadvertently shrinks his children.  Along the same lines, Mike Burns and Jay Heaps have constructed a midfield that’s, somehow, shrunk as the season’s progressed. Aside from Sene, who at times drops back and pretends to be a winger, not a single midfielder on the pitch stood above 5-9 on Wednesday. Not one. For all the talk about set-piece struggles, one remedy may simply be this: get taller.

3. The set-piece horrors are back – with a vengeance. It wasn’t all that long ago that it looked like the Revolution were slowly coming around on set pieces. That was until last week, when Federico Higuain punished the Revolution with two set-piece strikes. But, in a sense, that had more to do with Higuain’s considerable class rather than anything the Revolution could do on the actual free kick itself (other than, perhaps, lining up a wall of NBA players). That said, the set pieces were, in a word, atrocious on Wednesday. Not only did the Revolution concede two more goals from dead ball situations, but they couldn’t convert a single one of their 11 corner kicks. Yes, height may be an issue still. But even so, the hosts have to be tougher in those scenarios. They have to be grittier. After all, success on set pieces sometimes boils down to who wants it more.

4. Shalrie Joseph reminded us why the Revs haven’t won without him this year. Talk about sending a message. For all doubts cast on his ability to carry a team on his shoulders, Joseph did well to dispel any notion that his best days were behind him on Wednesday. And you could see it unfolding right in front of you. After Sene’s second goal of the game, Joseph grabbed the wheel and steered his club back on track. Yes, we may have seen that movie before. But to see it unfold against the local XI only served as a reminder. A reminder that they still lack the kind of player who has the talent and willingness to strap in and lead the way. And so long as the Revolution pine for that kind player, the wins aren’t going to get any easier to find.

5. Until further notice, there is no such thing as a safe Revolution lead. Last week, a two-goal lead evaporated before their eyes. On Wednesday, a three-goal lead escaped less than three minutes after the interval. Call it immaturity, poor defending, or the double-expletive of your choice, but whatever it is, the fact is the Revolution defense currently has more holes than Sonny Corleone at an abandoned toll booth. And to be honest, it’s hard to grasp what compelled the back four to become such philanthropists. Such ballers! After all, it wasn’t that long ago that the Revolution were holding opponents to a goal or less on a regular basis. The results may not have been there, but at least the defense was holding its end of the bargain. Then, just when you think they’ve turned a corner, they give up a combined seven goals to two of the lowest-scoring teams in the league. Sure, the offense is back on track. But there’s absolutely no excuse to blow a three-goal lead to the Goats.


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