New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: #SKCvNE

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

With little time to spare before DC United steps onto the pitch for Saturday’s match at Gillette Stadium (thanks, MLS schedulemakers!), let’s jump right into the latest things we learned about the Revolution following their midweek clash in Kansas City.

1. It should be a federal offense for Jermaine Jones to start at center back. Can we finally pull the plug on putting one of the league’s best midfielders in the back? We get it: the Revolution lack depth at center back, a situation that really hasn’t changed since A.J. Soares bolted for Europe. But the more we watch Jones man the position, the more curious it becomes as to why the prized midfielder has started the majority of his games at center back this season. Whether it’s his positioning, his slow reactions, or his inability to consistently win aerial challenges, it sometimes appears that the Revolution would be better off planting a training pole right next to Jose Goncalves and hoping for the best. Now, this is not an indictment of Jones’ overall ability; he is a fantastic player, and on his best night, he can alter the course of a game…when he’s in the midfield. When you park him in the rear? Well, be prepared to cover your eyes.

2. Diego Fagundez showed us why he’s the perfect player…to come off the bench. It’s hard not to root for Fagundez. He is a genuinely good guy whose handled the spotlight remarkably well for someone who was thrown into it years before his prom. Oh, and the fact that once scored 13 goals as an 18-year-old also speaks to his talent. That said, Fagundez has been dogged by inconsistency for the past year, and we saw more of the same on Wednesday. Early on, he looked like a man on fire, ready to score at will. Two point-blank efforts resulted in a shot off the post (though he was ruled offside), and a butchered miss on an exquisite London Woodberry ball. And that was it. Before long, Fagundez faded into the background, and was rarely seen until he was subbed off in the 53rd minute. It was a classic performance of a player who’s dangerous in spurts, which makes him perfectly suited to stay in his current super-sub role.

3. The backline missed Bobby Shuttleworth and Andrew Farrell hard. Remember when Twitter was abuzz with #TeamShuttleworth and #TeamKnighton debates? And how, the following offseason, people used to wonder whether Sharlie Joseph could return to play center back (on second thought…hmmm)? Yeah, hindsight is a funny thing. Because as we saw on Wednesday, the Revolution sorely missed both Shuttleworth and Farrell with Brad Knighton and Jermaine Jones plugged into their roles, respectively. We already went into why Jones was a poor fit, especially given how quickly Farrell’s game has evolved since the start of the season. No doubt a guy who’s worked as hard as him deserves a break, but wow, his absence was impossible to miss. Ditto for Shuttleworth. We’re not trying to knock Knighton, because he is what he is: a solid backup. But against a bloodthirsty Sporting front three, the Revolution backline spent much of the match in disarray without Shuttleworth there to organize. And because of that, the locals stood little chance of protecting their precious early game lead.

4. Open Cup competition can’t come soon enough for Kelyn Rowe. The former first-round pick has traditionally been a slow starter, and that tradition hasn’t changed this year. Although a two-goal performance against San Jose made us believe that 2015 would be different, the rest of his 11 appearances have been, on the whole, the definition of milquetoast. But if Rowe sticks to the script, it may not be long before he’s back in form. As we’ve seen time and time again, Rowe typically heats up once he’s plugged into the lineup for Open Cup action. He’s scored six goals in six tournament tilts, and has often parlayed that success to league action shortly after. There’s no doubt Rowe could use a confidence booster. Fortunately for him and the Revolution, the club will enter the tournament in less than a month’s time.

5. The introductions of Teal Bunbury and Charlie Davies into a 4-1 game were two of the oddest substitutions we’ve seen during Heaps’ tenure. It was surprising to see Bunbury and Davies both enter a game that was effectively decided during the first half. While Heaps told the media afterward that he had a good talk at halftime with the team, the optics were impossible to deny: Sporting sliced through the Revolution’s makeshift defense like a Ginsu knife, and hardly looked like they were in any hurry to slow down. So Heaps decided that best way to fight fire was with fire. And we get that. It was just odd to see him bring in two players who’ve both battled injuries this year come on midway through a game the Revolution had almost no chance of getting a result from. And to do so three days before a game against the conference kings was even stranger. There is something to be said about fighting to the very end, but there is also a time in which one must be pragmatic. And the fact that Davies and Bunbury both saw significant action on Wednesday when both will need to be 100 percent ready and healthy for Saturday didn’t seem practical. In a sense, it was a very un-Heaps-like move.

What else did we learn from Wednesday’s match? Tell us in the comments section!

One Comment

  1. Peter

    May 21, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    J Jones is not defensive minded player

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