New England Soccer Today

Five Questions: #PHIvNE

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/capturedimages.biz

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/capturedimages.biz

If there’s one thing we can count on when Sunday comes, it’s a much prettier game of football than the one we saw last weekend. Guaranteed. And here’s why.

According to weather.com, the forecast for Sunday in Chester, Pa. – which is where the Revolution and Union happen to be playing – is a high 64 degrees, and a low of 50 degrees, with partly cloudy conditions and a 12mph wind out of the east.

That’s right: 12 mph. Not 25 mph with gusts of 35mph. Which means no more active corner flags, rogue trajectories on passes longer than 10 yards, and more importantly, not another 0-0 game.

Get ready for a crisply-played match. Or at least something that resembles one. Then again, it is the Union who’ll be facing the Revolution this weekend, so you never know.

With the wind no longer a factor, let’s take a look at this week’s set of questions.

1. How long can Jermaine Jones go? We’re no doctors, but after a pre-planned, 45-minute run last weekend against Columbus, it appears that Jones should be able to go beyond the half. With two weeks of full training under his belt, Jones could theoretically play the full 90. Then again, it’s only April, and there’s no need to push your star midfielder when there’s 28 regular season games to go and six playoff spots up for grabs. In light of that, look for the Jones to see anywhere from 60-75 minutes of action, with coach Jay Heaps using his first or second sub to spell him.

2. Is Chris Tierney ready to return? Based on what Heaps said in his post-game presser last week, Tierney should be back in the lineup. Keyword, of course, is “should.” Tierney’s name popped up on the injury list on Friday (even after he was absent from it prior to last week’s game), which cast at least a little bit of doubt on his status. Then again, injury reports are the league’s running joke with the media this year, so only the coaching staff and players truly know. What we do know is this: if Tierney’s even 80 percent healthy, he’ll be on the field on Sunday, looking to give the attack the width and set piece precision it lacked last weekend.

3. What will the front three look like? Heaps threw a little bit of a curveball when he sat Charlie Davies, moved Juan Agudelo to striker, and assigned Teal Bunbury to the right. After all, the one-two punch of Davies and Agudelo had yielded four goals in their previous two. But Heaps erred on the side of caution with Crew’s fullbacks pushing up. Spoiler alert: Philadelpia’s fullbacks – Raymond Gaddis and Sheanon Williams – both like to do the same, and both have victimized the Revolution in the past. In light of that, it looks like another job for the Bunbury-Agudelo tandem, with Kelyn Rowe resuming his duties on the left.

4. Can Kelyn Rowe bounce back from a forgettable game? He’s going to need to if he wants to stake a legitimate claim for a National Team call-up. There’s no doubt he’s got the talent to become one of the best midfielders in MLS. He’s the kind of player who can score from distance and from point blank, and channel Jermaine Jones on a 40-yard assist. So no one is questioning the ability. It’s concistency that comes into play when discussing Rowe’s future. Everyone has a bad game (except for Cristiano Ronaldo or Leo Messi, who just have above average games when not at peak form). We get that. But against a porous and, quite frankly, easy defense, this is Rowe’s opportunity to get back in the saddle, which he should on Sunday.

5. Are the Union be ripe for the picking? Let’s not mince words: The Philadelphia Union are terrible technically (70.9 percent passing accuracy), terrible in possession (44.1 percent), and terrible at protecting a lead (see: 3-2 blooper-reel loss at Kansas City). Their high-priced keeper is in exile, and they’ve already put the ball in the back of their own net twice this season. In many respects, they are this year’s Chivas USA (RIP). To their credit, they are dangerous in at least one area: set pieces. So far this season, they’ve scored three set piece goals, tops in the conference. Also, they’re coming off a four-point week, which is impressive for a squad that’s starting a third-choice keeper and, well, is still the Union. Oh, and they also have Fernando Aristeguieta, who can make any defense look like it belongs in PDL. Yes, on the whole, the Union have been the butt of a lot of jokes this spring. But it would be foolish to think that a result is a foregone conclusion.

One Comment

  1. Chris B

    April 19, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    My question(s) would be similar to question #2: Is Barnes able to start (he is also questionable on the injury report, of course) and if not, can the Revs’ defense cope? I’m not sure how much of the defensive turnaround can be credited to Barnes, but he’s played well since starting against Montreal in March.

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