On Friday, Revolution and USMNT great Joe-Max Moore was officially inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame during a wonderful ceremony at Sporting Park. It was an honor that was long-deserved for one of the best players of his generation. Alas, it’ll also be an honor that won’t be preserved the manner befitting for a legend of the American game.
As you probably know, there is no longer a physical Hall of Fame. The reasons for why this is the reality have been well-documented. Whatever the reasons, the fact is that the ongoing opportunity to honor the likes of Joe-Max, Peter Vermes and past inductees no longer exists anymore.
But that doesn’t mean something can’t be done to rectify the situation. Hardly. If anything, the Revolution organization could very well afford Joe-Max a proper and permanent commemoration at Gillette Stadium.
Now, Gillette Stadium many not exactly be a bastion of Revolution history, but we’ve seen small steps taken over the years to remind us that the Patriots aren’t the only tenant. The 2007 U.S. Open Cup championship banner below the broadcaster’s booth is one such step. The Revolution-specific wall graphics are another.
Why not take another step? Whether it’s a plaque, banner or large display of artifacts, there’s no reason why one of the greatest players to ever don a Revolution jersey shouldn’t be permanently recognized by the club he helped launch into the local sports psyche during its early days.
Granted, Joe-Max’s brightest moments – whether it was in a Revolution or U.S. uniform - didn’t occur at the state of the art, $360 million stadium. We know that. We know that his best moments came at a stadium that was demolished over a decade ago.
But that’s no excuse to forgo the opportunity to honor him. Joe-Max created brilliant and lasting memories right here in New England. Whether it was his superlative showing against Jamaica in 2001 to send the U.S. to Japan/Korea, or the bushels of goals he scored in MLS action, there’s no debating that he’s worthy of something more than just a brief, pre-game ceremony. After all, his sensational career helped ensure that the future of soccer, both locally and nationally, would be brighter than it was during his playing days.
Five Questions may not have been around during Joe-Max’s playing days, but we like to think that many of the queries would’ve regularly focused on what kind of damage he would’ve inflicted upon opposing defenses on a weekly basis.
1. Can the Revolution avoid an early deficit? In a sense, conceding an early goal wasn’t the worst thing they could’ve done against the Red Bulls last week. Of course, it may not have looked like it worked in the Revolution’s favor for the first, oh, 60 minutes or so. But Fabian Espindola’s served to spur the Revolution to press and press for the equalizer, which it secured, albeit in comical fashion, from a generous penalty. And it’s for that reason that the Revolution have to be tighter defensively against the Impact. A banged up Marco Di Vaio should make the job easier, not to mention the Impact’s form going into the game (0-3-1). The Red Bulls they are not, and in light of this, the Revolution should be able to close the door on Montreal early and press on for the game-winner. It’s not like their postseason ambitions are riding on it, or anything.
2. How will the Revolution cope with Montreal’s stacked set of midfielders? The Impact aren’t exactly a postcard of a playoff team at the moment. Their last win came in that 4-2 fiasco at Gillette Stadium, with the temporary grass pitch and all. It took an early red card, a pair of first half penalties to help kickstart the Impact, who’ve done their best D.C. United imitation on the road this season. But let’s not overlook the fact that Montreal has one of the best midfields in MLS. Patrice Bernier is the kind of midfielder that the Revolution wished Kalifa Cisse would be. Justin Mapp’s is a licensed Rev Killer, while the crafty Davy Arnaud and sneaky Felipe Martins have already shown that there ain’t no party like an Impact party because an Impact party don’t stop. Well, at least until it gets to the end of the season. Nevertheless, the burden of stopping Montreal’s midfield doesn’t just lie with the Revolution midfielders. Juan Agudelo will have to put in extra work, while A.J. Soares will have to make sure he stays on the same page with Scott Calwell all afternoon. It’s going to take a complete effort, an effort which we saw during the final half hour of last week’s game at New York.
3. Who will the spotlight shine upon the brightest? If Di Vaio’s healthy enough to go, it’ll most certainly fall on Soares. The last time the Revolution and Impact met, Soares was torched twice in a span of five minutes by the Italian striker. Yeah, it was only pretty for Impact supporters. This time around, Soares gets the chance to redeem himself. He’s surely looked at the tape from that forgettable game, heard what Jay Heaps and the coaching staff have said about adjustments, and has planned to put together the kind of performance that motivated that dolphin at the National Aquarium to predict that he’d be taken first overall at the 2011 SuperDraft. Paul the Octopus he was not, but maybe that dolphin saw something we haven’t yet seen. Perhaps we’ll get a glimpse of what the marine mammal forecasted in his tank some three years ago this very Saturday. Whatever the case, Saturday’s match doesn’t just have the potential to be a statement game for the Revolution; it could be a statement game for Soares, too.
4. Can Diego Fagundez find the back of the net again? You have to like his chances. We saw him score a clutch goal last week against one of the tougher defenses in the east. And during the last Revolution-Impact clash, Fagundez scored his club’s first goal, and of the shorthanded variety, to boot. Since that contest, the Impact have, well, not exactly played exceptionally sound defensive soccer. They’ve leaked through eight goals in their last four, and their defense is one month closer to filing for AARP (or the European Union equivalent). When you consider this in concert with the fact that Fagundez will be playing with his consigliore, Juan Agudelo, well, the teenager’s 13th goal of the season seems so close you can almost taste it. True, Fagundez may not be Di Vaio, who’s actually old enough to be his father. But you can’t help but think that Fagundez is poised to strike for a second straight week on Saturday at the Stade.
5. Will we/should we see Clyde Simms on Saturday and if so, then for how long? (submitted by loyal reader @cbrown4747) A dual question! This is why our readers rock! Let’s tackle the first part of it. For the first time since the early summer, Simms is in a serious position to put in some work. Not only is his name absent from the injury report, but the red card issued to Andy Dorman last week all but makes the former D.C. midfielder a prime candidate for a late-game change around the 70th minute. Heck, after the performance Scott Caldwell had last week, we may see him even sooner than the 70th minute. So if the swan song for Simms hasn’t already been sung, Saturday’s game might be the afternoon we hear it. Now, onto the second part: No. And that’s not an indictment on Simms. If the Revolution execute their gameplan – which presumably emphasizes a strong defense first, and capitalizing on chances second – successfully, then Simms’ presence shouldn’t be needed. If everything’s going according to schedule, there shouldn’t be any need for Caldwell to come off, or to bolster the midfield, if “bolster” is the right word when talking about two diminutive defensive midfielders on the pitch at the same time. The only reasons why we should see him is if 1.) Caldwell picks up an injury or 2.) Caldwell suddenly starts holding the ball like a construction cone.