New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: Revolution vs. Red Bulls

Ryan Guy's performance against New York was one of the bright spots for the Revolution on Saturday. (Photo: Chris Aduama/aduama.com)

Ryan Guy’s performance against New York was one of the bright spots for the Revolution on Saturday. (Photo: Chris Aduama/aduama.com)

If Saturday’s game between the Revolution and Red Bulls reminded us of anything, it’s this: You gotta fight for your right to party.

In the 68 seconds that followed Diego Fagundez’s 54th minute goal, Revolution players hugged, celebrated, smiled, shook hands, got back into their respective positions, then watched as Andre Akpan and Lloyd Sam conspired to spoil their party like the lady next door who always calls the cops when someone so much as laughs too loudly out on your front yard. Yeah, that lady.

And no one was more upset about it than Jay Heaps. In most post-game pressers, the Revolution head coach often alludes to watching the tape to get a better understanding of what happened. On Saturday, he used the “look at the tape” reference to highlight the fact that during his playing days, he never allowed himself to get caught up in a goal celebration. Note: when your coach invites the writers to call up game film of his playing days, you might as well pack a knapsack and a pillow because, let’s face it, you’re going to the doghouse.

Was Heaps too critical of his players following the 1-1 draw that, if a little more discipline and/or maturity was present, could’ve very well ended 1-0 in favor of Foxborough’s footballers? Some would argue that. Some would say that they still played well enough to win, and were it not for Luis Robles’ lucky limp leg save in 80th minute, the Revolution would’ve pulled away with the win even in light of the extended celebrations

Then again, the Revolution aren’t really in any position to be throw their hands in the air – even if they are true players. They’re in seventh place, their designated player hasn’t scored since Week 2, their central midfield is in mix-and-match mode at the moment, and one of the strongest performances on Saturday night came from a guy wearing #92. Ninety-two, for goodness sake.

So no, Heaps wasn’t just being a buzzkill for sake of being a buzzkill on Saturday. He wasn’t being one of those wistful ex-players who thinks that the younger generation doesn’t know how the game should be played. You wanna party, guys? The Beastie Boys were right: you gotta fight for it.

It doesn’t matter that it was Lee Nguyen Bobblehead Night. That not one, but two Revolution forwards rocked the blonde mohawk, a look best suited for the party scene. Or that as Fagundez celebrated his goal, he inexplicably dove into a headfirst slide on a surface that’s not conducive to such celebrations.

To borrow a phrase: Look at the tape. The Revs weren’t fighting for anything in the moments following the Fagundez goal. Instead, they were living it up like they were big pimping and spending cheese.

We could go on with the party anthem references, but before we get sidetracked even more, let’s pop the tops on a six pack (minus a can) of observations from Saturday’s game.

1. The benching of Jerry Bengtson shows that Jay Heaps is rapidly losing his patience with the Honduran striker. After Saturday’s game, the Revolution head coach advised the media that Bengtson’s exclusion from the starting XI was two-fold: to give him a rest and to give Dimitry Imbongo an opportunity he’s earned after showing well in training. But the real reason Bengtson didn’t start probably has more to do with the fact that his production continues to plummet as the season progresses. Through nine games, the Honduran striker’s only scored once, and hasn’t scored in his last eight. Overall, he’s only collected three goals in 22 career MLS games. Here’s a sobering stat: Rajko Lekic had twice as many strikes in nearly the same amount of action (six goals in 23 games). That sound you hear coming out of the Revolution offices at Patriot Place is Mike Burns dialing up potential suitors for a summertime move.

2. Diego Fagundez had the best night of his pro career, but he can’t carry this team all by himself. Speaking of Burns, was anyone in the Revolution organization happier to see Fagundez shine than the GM himself? Nearly four years ago, Burns stuck out his neck to sign a 15-year-old high school freshman, hoping that someday, the Academy prospect would become a legitimate MLS starter. On Saturday, Fagundez made his strongest case for regular selection. The goal itself was pretty, and his game-high six shots were impressive. But after the game, the 18-year-old sounded like a longtime veteran when he said that he saw a weakness in the Red Bulls’ marking on corner kicks and decided to exploit it. The scary thing, of course, is that he is far from a finished product.

3. The Revolution are going to need more of what Chris Tierney brought to the table against New York. Perhaps no Revolution player has taken more heat for the Revolution’s lack of set piece success than the tryout wonder himself. Some of it, of course, has been deserved. On Saturday, though, Tierney reminded us how dangerous a weapon he can be when everything is clicking. From the run of play, Tierney’s passing was strong and came close to cashing in assist number two after setting up Fagundez’s brilliant 80th minute shot. On corner kicks, Tierney nearly linked up with Ryan Guy in the first half, and remained a threat from the corner flag into the second half. Yes, the night belonged to Fagundez, but he was greatly aided by an effective performance from the veteran left back.

4. Ryan Guy continues to show why he belongs in the starting XI. Last week, the wily winger wowed us with his amazing volley against Real Salt Lake, not to mention the acrobatic backflip that followed. While that sequence will undoubtedly land on the team’s end-of-season highlight reel, don’t get it twisted: Guy’s game isn’t about gimmicks. Although he didn’t register another amazing strike on Saturday, the third-year MLS veteran made a number of dangerous runs into the area, and kept the Red Bulls backline on their toes. If Heaps can avoid the temptation of flipping his role from week-to-week, Guy could be one of the attack’s most effective weapons.

5. Say what you will about Thierry Henry’s refusal to play at Gillette Stadium, but the Revolution’s overall poor form since the Frenchman entered the league only makes it easier for him to get away with it. Say what you will about Henry’s lack of desire to play on turf, which has kept him from gracing the Gillette Stadium pitch during his four years in MLS. The fact is that no matter who’s on the bench – Hans Backe or Mike Petke – one of the biggest reasons why Henry is routinely given a reprieve on the road against the Revs is, quite simply, the fact that the games themselves are inconsequential. Think about it: when was the last time the Red Bulls and Revs played a high-stakes game? A game that carried playoff implications? You have to go back to at least 2009, a year before Henry entered the league. As a local soccer fan, yes, it kind of sucks that the league’s most talented player won’t play in your neighborhood. But as a realist, you have to think: can you blame him?

7 Comments

  1. Demetrios Tsillas

    May 13, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Turf is a young man’s surface.

  2. Ben Saufley (@bensaufley)

    May 13, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    This is one of my favorite articles I’ve read from NE Soccer Today. Clever and well-written, as well as insightful.

    I am curious, though, why Imbongo didn’t get a bit more of a mention. Dude’s taken a lot of heat, and while obviously Diego was the star of the night, Dmitry was I think a surprise for a lot of people in his first start.

    • Brian O'Connell

      May 13, 2013 at 10:44 pm

      Hey Ben, I appreciate the kind words. In hindsight, Imbongo probably did deserve more of a mention, especially given that he only played a whole 19 mins going into the game. He’ll certainly be worth keeping an eye on should Heaps give him more opportunities.

  3. danielharrington

    May 13, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    Imbongo is #92… so he did get a mention. And i agree – he’s playing well and helping Jerry to find his well-deserved spot on the bench. Curious to see what Agudelo brings.

    • Ben Saufley (@bensaufley)

      May 14, 2013 at 9:22 am

      That’s why I said “more” of a mention. I know his number – he shaves it into the side of his head, for goodness’ sake.

  4. Corey

    May 14, 2013 at 9:04 am

    couldn’t agree more about Guy. absolutely deserves to be in this starting XI. he and Fagundez are doing wonders on the wings. maybe Kelyn and Lee are the ones whose jobs aren’t so set in stone.

    • Ben Saufley (@bensaufley)

      May 14, 2013 at 9:24 am

      Kelyn has 3 assists this so far this season – Jeff Lemieux says “one shy of the league lead.” Dude is highly underrated. Lee has good days and bad – really would like to see more of the good ones.

Leave a Reply