New England Soccer Today

Five Questions: Revolution at Sounders

Lee Nguyen and his Revolution teammates will be looking to score their first victory in the Emerald City in nearly four years on Saturday. (Photo: Kari Heistad/CapturedImages.biz)

Lee Nguyen and his Revolution teammates will be looking to score their first victory in the Emerald City in nearly four years on Saturday. (Photo: Kari Heistad/CapturedImages.biz)

Two weeks have passed since we last saw the Revolution in action, but that didn’t mean it was all was quiet in and around Norfolk County during the bye week. To the contrary, there was plenty going on while the team took a break from league action. And almost all of it was, thankfully, documented.

First we saw A.J. Soares, Saer Sene, Darrius Barnes & Co. unflappably model some fresh threads at a charity fashion show. It was no surprise that these gentlemen brought their A-game to the event, and in the process, showed us mere mortals how to rock the clothing conundrum that is the bow tie.

Then, we witnessed a what is, admittedly, a guilty pleasure of yours truly: mascot on mascot violence. With revolutionsoccer.net’s Jeff Lemieux encountering some, um, technical issues involving an unidentified bear-like mascot, Slyde – leaner and decidedly meaner since 2012 – came in to save the day and take out the trash. Oh, and use the bear’s head as a soccer ball.

Around that same time, the Revolution hosted the unaffiliated (re: mysterious) New England Force for a good ol’ fashioned bye week scrimmage. To the surprise of no one, the local XI hand their guests a 4-0 loss, as the force was clearly not with the Force. Apologize for that corny reference, I do.

After that, we saw everyone’s favorite teen soccer star Diego Fagundez get cleaned up and ready for his girlfriend’s prom. Proving once again that he is wise beyond his years, he shunned the limo for the sports car like a seasoned pro. Good move, Diego. Good move. #ballsohard

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all fun and cream puffs while the Revolution waited for Saturday’s contest.

On Monday, we learned the awful news that Kevin Alston has leukemia, and needs to take a leave of absence to fight it. The prognosis is good, thankfully. Just as good: the tremendous outpouring of support from fans, friends, teammates, ex-teammates, fellow players, coaches and pretty much everyone on Twitter. For all the negative things the daily news delivers, the soccer community continues to show how awesome the human race can be.

If you’re looking for awesome, well, you’ve come to the wrong place. Check this out for awesomeness. Or this. What we have is five questions, each with questionable levels of awesomeness.

1. What is it going to take to snap the Revolution’s lengthy goalless streak? The short answer: accuracy. Plain and simple, like white bread and bologna. The long answer: Jerry Bengtson, Lee Nguyen, Diego Fagundez, Juan Toja and possibly Kelyn Rowe, and possibly Andy Dorman, all have to be better than they’ve been in the last four games. That means, better finishing inside the box. It also means getting better looks. The bar has to be raised on attacking set pieces, too. Creativity and cohesion are also important, and both must improve in order to find the back of the net. Ryan Guy said it best following the 1-0 loss to FC Dallas a fortnight ago: the Revolution has to be comfortable in its own skin. They can’t be trying to be Real Madrid one minute, then Malaga the next. They are who they are, and they have to stick to what they know, in order to reclaim their scoring touch.

2. How will the back four perform without Kevin Alston? It’s no secret that consistency is the key to success, and the absence of Alston could very well disrupt the backline’s early-season success. Chris Tierney figures to slide into the left back spot, and fortunately for Jay Heaps, it’s a position Tierney is quite familiar with. Even so, Tierney is a much different player. He lacks the speed that Alston brandishes, and for all the time he may have gotten on the practice pitch, he’ll be coming on cold against a team that has plenty of pace. And on turf, too. However, his crossing ability gives the team more going forward. That, combined with his form on set free kicks and corners which, admittedly, isn’t Beckham or Brad Davis-like, could do more than just provide bite to the attack. If the club capitalizes from a Tierney set piece, it might also take off some of pressure off he and his fellow defenders to squeeze out another result.

3. Is Kalifa Cisse finally return to the field? This has been the topic du jour for the past 35 or so jours. In his first and, so far, only game on the pitch, the seasoned European center half played up to his billing. While fitness was undoubtedly an issue, he showed why Heaps and Mike Burns were thrilled to land him during the winter. He played the role of disruptor when the opposition approached, and acted as an offensive catalyst going forward. He gave the Revolution a back bone – a back bone that’s been missing in the three games he’s missed. With nearly five weeks to heal his nagging right groin, the hope is that Cisse is on the verge of returning – and not a moment to soon.

4. Is Saturday’s match destined to end 0-0? There’s no question the goals are getting about as hard to come by as the new Revolution track jacket – and not just for the local XI. Through its first four games, the Sounders have only one more goal than the Revolution. That’s three total goals scored by two clubs in eight combined games. In the words of that little girl in the AT & T commercial: We want more, we want more, like you really like it, you want more. It’s not complicated, both clubs need to start scoring. But with the Revolution on road, and the Sounders pretty banged up, don’t be surprised if the scoreline at the start of the game holds up for 90 minutes.

5. Can the Revolution win one for Kevin Alston? It’s somewhat of a silly concept, if you think about it: the team that raises its game to honor an afflicted teammate.Whether that team is the Revolution, the Baltimore Ravens or the men’s basketball team of a certain university with a red birded mascot, no team plays better because an injury, sickness or tragedy inspired them to do so. Lee Nguyen won’t score because Kevin Alston was on his mind at the very instant he hit the ball. Matt Reis or Bobby Shuttleworth won’t make a crucial save because he was thinking about Alston’s predicament just as he elevated to tip it over the bar. That stuff doesn’t happen. However, that doesn’t mean that the Revolution won’t look to its ailing teammate for motivation. If the Revolution rally to win in the Emerald City, you can bet they’ll savor it even more in light of their teammate’s battle. Get Well KA, indeed.

3 Comments

  1. Jim

    April 13, 2013 at 10:06 am

    I never realized how many Revolution inside jokes have emerged this season until you compiled them all here. Well done.

    One would hope that with the Sounders start to the season, they’re fixture congestion (which has always killed the revs, even when non-existant, – so why can’t it kill the Sounders?) and the #getwellka good vibes inspiring the team, they can pull out a win. Btw your “I’m a tea men” twitter background banner is phenomenal.

  2. Brian O'Connell

    April 13, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Thanks, Jim!

    Glad you like the Tea Men twitter tribute. It’s actually shot of a vintage bumper sticker I bought on Ebay a few years ago. Quite possibily the best $1.99 I’ve ever spent. FWIW, the entire sticker reads “I’m a Tea Men lover” – a phrase that lends us with an interesting double entendre.

  3. Chris B

    April 13, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    I wonder if Sene will see time today, though I highly doubt it. His upgrade to “questionable” on the injury report is a HUGE step in his eventual return, but I don’t think it will be today because it’s a tough road game on turf. Maybe we’ll see him get minutes next game!

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