Five Questions: Revolution vs. FC Dallas

Juan Toja (right) will face his former club on Saturday when FC Dallas comes to Gillette Stadium for an interconference contest against the Revolution (Photo: Kari Heistad/CapturedImages.biz)

Juan Toja (right) will face his former club on Saturday when FC Dallas comes to Gillette Stadium for an interconference contest against the Revolution (Photo: Kari Heistad/CapturedImages.biz)

Rest easy, Revolution supporters. Saturday’s forecast does not include any of the following: sleet, rain, drizzle, high wind or temperatures below 40. According to weather.com, expect sunny conditions with a temperature around 52 degrees for the opening whistle at Gillette Stadium.

In light of the above, there should be no more built-in excuse for the team’s attacking anemia. The seasonably pleasant conditions should allow us a better glimpse of what the offense is capable of, taking into consideration Saer Sene’s absence, of course.

Come the conclusion of Saturday’s interconference clash, there should be one less excuse as to why the goals are playing hard to get for the Revolution.  There are still plenty others to use. But the one that casts the weather as the culprit should be thrown into the junk drawer, at least this week. It’s going to be a beautiful day to play the beautiful game.

That said, let it be known that neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night stays the completion of our usual quintet of questions.

1. How much does Jerry Bengtson have in the tank? With the Revolution offense in starvation mode at the moment, there’s no doubt that Jay Heaps is going to need every precious minute he squeeze from his Honduran striker this weekend. A grueling set of World Cup Qualifiers would require most to set an appointment with the hyperbaric chamber. It is unknown whether said chamber is on the Gillette Stadium premises. In any event, Heaps might be wise to park his poacher for the first half, then unleash him after the hour. Why? It might be early, but all five of the goals Dallas conceded so far this season arrived after the 68th minute. Let’s also not forget that Bengtson scored his debut goal under similar circumstances last summer. A full 90 would be the ideal, of course.  So would a grass pitch inside a soccer specific stadium. But that’s another story, entirely.

2. Can the Revolution defense frustrate the FC Dallas attack? No offense to Sporting Kansas City, Chicago or Philadelphia, but the Revolution haven’t faced an offense as potent as the one put together by Schellas Hyndman. Sorry, Fire, Union and K.C. No hard feelings. The Dallas attack is predicated on speed, stretching the defense and, at times, pilfering a back pass, much like the one Jackson seized in the 81st minute against Real Salt Lake last week. Good grief. So to limit the Hoops from striking, all 11 Revs have to be, as A.J. Soares is wont to say, “super aware.” ”Aware” by itself won’t be enough. The Revolution must keep the lines of communication open at all times, plug the passing lanes and, if need be, tape a cheetah to Andrew Farrell’s back.

3. Is Dallas really vulnerable at Gillette Stadium? If you can believe it, Dallas hasn’t pocketed three points in Foxboro in nearly a decade. Yes, a decade. For perspective, Jay Heaps was a fifth-year defender, FC Dallas was called the Burn, and Diego Fagundez wasn’t even born. OK, the last part isn’t true. He was actually eight. But to paraphrase something a wise man once said, past failure doesn’t portend future failure. Yes, a few talented Dallas teams have come here and fallen short. Most recently, the draw-happy side of 2011 came here to get blanked 2-0 by Rajko Lekic and his band of outlaws. Maybe it’s the turf. Maybe it’s the militia men. Maybe it’s Slyde, who’s gotten meaner looking over the years. Whatever it is, don’t count on it keeping the Dallas from putting themselves in position for three points on Saturday.

4. Which lessons  learned from last week’s Sporting K.C. game can the Revolution apply to Saturday’s match? The first lesson is easy: if it’s windy, play suffocating and snooze-inducing football. OK, so that may not apply this time around, what with a 9 mph northwesterly wind forecast. Besides that, the Revolution have to apply the same compact approach, at least initially, to set the tone. The goalkeeping, whether it’s Matt Reis or Bobby Shuttleworth between the sticks, must also rise to the occasion. And the effort? It must be there for 90 minutes plus (see last year’s 1-0 Dallas win over New England, circa April 5). Last week may have been a brutally ugly match, but there were positives that can be drawn from if you look past, you know, the zero shots on goal, the 58 percent passing accuracy, and the glut of giveaways.

5. Can the Revolution commit numbers to the box? That’s what Heaps preached during training this week. In the Revs’ first three games, the local XI has been much too gun shy going forward. While the conditions and formation may have something to do with it, the wide players must venture forward more often. The overlapping runs rarely seen in the last three weeks must become a regular presence. And wouldn’t you know? A club like Dallas, which gives up plenty on defense in its pursuit of punching the back of the net. If there’s a time put the preaching into practice, Saturday afternoon between the hours of 4-6pm might be a good start.

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About Brian O'Connell

Brian O'Connell serves as editor and staff writer at New England Soccer Today. He's also the Revolution beat writer for ESPNBoston.com, and is Officer at Large for the North American Soccer Reporters. He regularly contributes to The Associated Press, and has been featured on MLSSoccer.com & RevsNet.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BrianOConnell21 or contact him via e-mail at BOConnell21@aol.com