New England Soccer Today

All I want for Christmas…

Ho ho ho! This year, the writers at New England Soccer Today gathered around the fireplace, munched on gingerbread cookies and compiled this Revolution Christmas list with cheer.

A proven goal-scorer (Sean) -While I may not be in the camp that thinks finding an experienced forward should be the top personnel priority (I believe a quality two way center mid tops the list), finding a double-digit goal scorer is a must if the Revs are to challenge for a MLS Cup again. The Revs have hardly looked the same threat in front of goal since Taylor Twellman last played regularly in 2008. Eighty-three percent of MLS Cup finalists had a double digit goal scorer that season. Of the remaining five teams, four had players who had previously reached double digits in MLS and the fifth had the league MVP that season in Guillermo Barros Schelotto. With Twellman out and now retired, the Revs don’t have that player. One can certainly argue the service last season would make it tough on any striker, but the Revs need a deadly finisher to get back to the next level and it may need to be a designated player.

A veteran centerback (Brian) – Ever since Michael Parkhurst left for Denmark, the Revs’ achilles heel has been defense. The primary culprit? Consistency at centerback. While Darrius Barnes has proven himself to be a solid option in a four-man line, the team desperately needs another proven centerback to cure their generous goal-allowing gaffs. Maybe Ryan Cochrane, who helped snuff out the Revs attack in the 2006 & 2007 MLS Cups with Houston, is the answer. If not, though, it may be another bleak season devoid of playoffs in 2011.

Healthy 2011 (Sean) – Injuries exposed and exacerbated the Revs problems in 2010. While injuries can hardly excuse the Revs poor season, in some areas at least, they had a huge effect. Defensively, the Revs were decimated by injuries. Only once all season were the Revs able to field the same defense four games in a row and the lack of consistency never let the backline build chemistry. Even the goalkeeper behind them hardly remained the same for an extended period of time. That constant line-up shuffling combined with a young defense often made up of mostly rookies, second-year players, and guys learning new positions, led to the worst defense in the league. Even if Ryan Cochrane or another new signing proves the perfect partner for Darrius Barnes in the center of the backline, it will hardly matter if the two of them rarely play together because of injuries.

A second stopper (Brian) – Although the Revs fell short of another MLS Cup appearance in 2008 & 2009, it certainly wasn’t due to the double-headed snake of Shalrie Joseph and Jeff Larentowicz in the middle. And it was painfully obvious in 2010 that Larentowicz’s presence was sorely lacking as the Revs searched all season for a suitable replacement. Joseph Niouky? Not exactly. Pat Phelan, Larentowicz’s understudy,  showed occasional flashes, but we all know that consistency is king. Would it be impolite to ask the Rapids for a do-over on that trade?

Soccer Specific Stadium (Sean) – We all know the Revs won’t be playing in a soccer specific stadium in 2011, but finally finding a site and making an announcement with concrete plans would be great news for the club. Gillette Stadium is a world class facility and the Revs certainly are not and should not be in such a rush to leave that they feel the need to play in a smaller college stadium in the city before they can build their own. However, building a stadium either in the city or in close proximity with easy access to public transport would almost certainly increase turnout and atmosphere. The Revs’ average crowd of just under 13,000 last season makes for a poor atmosphere in a near 70,000 seat football stadium, but that wouldn’t be the case in a 20-25,000 seat soccer stadium. Such a stadium near the city has the potential to not only increase attendance and atmosphere, but could prove beneficial for the team’s ability to attract top players who may be hesitant to play on Gillette Stadium’s turf field.

New uniforms (Brian) – When I was a kid, my mom used to dress my younger brother and I in matching outfits. Whatever I wore, my mom would buy the same exact shirt, pants, and jacket for my bro. It made for some adorable pictures. Now, I understand the league has a contract with adidas, and all uniform designs are based upon adidas-created templates, but how in the world did the Revs manage to look exactly like the Patriots in their 2010 navy blues? In this context, it is definitely not adorable. Bring out the awesomely bad ’96 kits, the ’99 Fourth of July ensemble, anything – anything besides what they’re wearing right now.

Think of this final item as the proverbial pony on the Christmas list. This is that one item that you probably desire over all the others on your list, but is quite frankly too expensive and probably unfeasible.

Alex De Souza as a DP (Sean) – We are probably a year or two early on this one as the 33-year-old playmaker and goal scorer extraordinaire is once again captain of Fenerbahce and leading the Turkish Super Lig in scoring. The former Brazilian national team captain and two-time Copa America winner has averaged over a goal or assist per game in his seven years in Turkey and was close to that amazing tally at every club/league he’s played at. While Alex would almost certainly cost seven figures a year, with 49 caps, 12 goals and 11 assists for Brazil he should have the name recognition to attract knowledgeable fans of Brazil back to the Revs and should cost a fraction of a David Beckham or Thierry Henry. Alex has been a favorite player of both Brian and I for years and if you are curious why, YouTube is a good place to start. If he could be convinced to come here this summer or even a year or two from now (convincing him it’s a great place to raise his young kids would be a start), Alex could be the best player in the league and would certainly help get the Revs on the sports’ highlight reels. Translating his skills from a highly physical league in Turkey, he may find the transition to MLS easier than some talented players have.


Leave a Reply