New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: #OCvNE


Photo credit: Hazel May/Prost Amerika

It’s often said that, in sports, there are two kinds of ties: one that feels like a loss, one that feels like a win. And there’s little debate that Friday’s 2-2 draw falls into the former for the Revolution.

After taking a two-goal lead with just under 20 minutes to go, the Revolution appeared to be in command. Yes, Orlando City started knocking on the door after the break. Yes, the heat was starting to take its toll. But Kelyn Rowe’s goal was supposed to be the dagger.

Thanks to some lax defending, lax reactions, and all sorts of laxity laxness, the Lions clawed right back. First there was the header from UConn alumnus Cyle Larin. Then, to add insult to injury, there the equalizer via Aurelien Collin. Yeah, that guy.

The final score may have felt like a slap in the face, and the fact that everyone’s favorite announcing crew gave us the blow-by-blows certainly didn’t take away any of the sting. But at this juncture of the season, it may do well to serve some good.

It was a reminder that, as good as the Revolution have played as of late, they’re still far from perfect. Whether it was conceding far too much along the flanks, or lighting gift-wrapped chances on fire in the first half, there’s still plenty of room for improvement for this group.

While it may have felt like a loss at the final whistle, the fact is that the Revolution, second-half flaws and all, were still able to walk away with a road point. And you know what? They still managed to push their unbeaten streak to eight in the process.

Now that Friday’s affair is in the books, and the SAP button is no longer needed, let’s take a look at what we learned from it.

1. Charlie Davies is on some kind of run. It’s amazing what a difference a year can make. At this time last year, Davies was still trying to figure out how to play on the wing, and antsy to open his Revolution account. Today, he’s not only firmly entrenched as the starting striker (despite the offseason addition of Juan Agudelo), but he’s scored in four straight, and tallied eight times in his last 11 starts going back to the 2014 postseason. It’s both remarkable and somber to watch. It’s remarkable because of how long a road its been for Davies since the 2009 car accident. But at the same time, you can’t help but think what could’ve been had the tragic events of that fateful night just outside of the nation’s capital never taken place.

2. The Revolution’s wasteful ways from earlier this year returned. Following the match, Jay Heaps didn’t turn his attention to the late-game collapse. Rather, he focused on the first half, and the chances that his squad tossed in the wastebasket. First, there was Lee Nguyen’s wayward rocket. Then London Woodberry’s header off the post, which was immediately followed up by Davies’ effort off the bar. In a more resourceful world, the Revolution would’ve headed into halftime with a two- or three-goal lead. Instead, it was still 1-0, and the Lions came out energized for the second half partly because of it. Say what you will about their inability to button it up late, which was obviously one reason why they had to settle for one point. But the Revolution granted their hosts a reprieve by failing to convert on a handful of occasions in the first half.

3. Jose Goncalves was sorely missed in crunch time. Jermaine Jones won’t lie: he’d much rather be in the midfield than at center back. And to his credit, he’s manned the spot next to Andrew Farrell pretty well for the most part. It’s just the other part that’s reminded us why he’s not a center back by trade. Last week, he essentially escorted Sacha Kljestan into the Revolution 18 before the Red Bulls midfielder scored. This week, he was beaten badly in the air by a rookie on Orlando City’s first goal. The second goal? Not much better. This isn’t to say that Jones has been terrible at center back over the last four weeks. Not at all. But when you’re protecting a two-goal lead, Goncalves is the man you want in the heart of your defense.

4. Scott Caldwell is a different player with Jones in the fold. What has gotten into Caldwell this year? While the likeable Homegrown has been as consistent as ever with his passing and positioning, he continues to channel his tattooed teammate. On Friday, he essentially hip checked Seb Hines off the ball, a play in which he was lucky not to get to see a yellow, which he did eventually see in the 84th minute. Now, mind you, this isn’t a complaint or criticism of Caldwell. His new-found grit has benefited the Revolution this year, and he used it to great effect on his tackle of Amobi Okugo to set up the opening goal. Through 10 games, he’s already caused 16 fouls – more than half the total he registered in 26 games last year. Perhaps its simply the result of learning that in order to survive in MLS, the 5-8 defensive midfielder has to lay down the lumber more often. But we can’t help but think that playing and training with Jones has also had an effect on Caldwell’s disposition on the pitch.

5. The Revolution’s crossing left a lot to be desired. Despite having both Chris Tierney and London Woodberry on the field, the Revolution’s crossing success was an abysmal eight percent. Eight percent, as in, they failed to connect on crosses 92 percent of the time. In fact, Tierney was the only player to launch a successful cross for the guests on Friday. True, both had to contend with containing Kaka. As such, they were far less likely to venture forward and send a barrage of crosses like they’ve done over the last two weeks. While Kaka may not have scored, his presence alone altered the way the Revolution attacked and as such, forced them to leave the door ajar in the second half.

What else did we learn from Friday’s match? Let us know in the comments section!

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