New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: #NEvLA

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

If Jermaine Jones’ left groin injury turns out to be as “really bad” as he made it sound following Sunday’s match, it could be a long summer for the Revolution…again.

After enjoying a fairly comfortable stretch in which they played five of their last seven at home, the Revolution are about to embark on nine-week stretch in which they’ll be on the road seven times. Among those seven stops: Portland, DC, Columbus and Dallas. Oh, and who’s to say where the locals will play should they advance to the fifth round and quarterfinals of U.S. Open Cup tournament action?

But wait. There’s more.

If Jones misses significant time, the Revolution have no one else on the active roster that’s played center back this season other than, well, Jose Goncalves and Andrew Farrell. Depth? Overrated, especially when it comes to all of those mid-week Open Cup matches.

As if the schedule and center back depth weren’t enough to worry about, there’s also the ongoing contract negotiations between Jones and the Revolution. The groin injury isn’t likely to create much leverage for the prized midfielder. But that likely won’t stop him from seeking one last financial windfall before he hangs up his boots.

The extent of Jones’ injury hasn’t yet been revealed as of Tuesday morning. For all we know, he could be looking at a quick and relatively painless recovery. Then again, players who suffer sports hernias can be prone to suffering a recurrence, which can’t be good for any one, nevermind a 33-year-old midfielder who plays like he’s still 25.

It’s hard to say what the future holds given the unknown surrounding Jones’ injury at the moment. At this point, anything beyond the diagnosis is speculation. So let’s talk about what we do know, and what we learned from Sunday’s match.

1. Lee Nguyen may not be in the midst of an MVP year, but his absence showed how important he remains to the offense. For all the grief that Nguyen’s gotten about his goal total or contract gripes, he still remains a valuable piece of the attack. Prior Sunday’s game, his 27 shots led the squad, and his ability to pull defenders away from the likes of Charlie Davies, Juan Agudelo and Teal Bunbury have allowed the trio to find both space and opportunities. Without Nguyen on the pitch for Sunday’s match, the Revolution offense was far more predictable, and a heck of a lot less dangerous. They were out-shot at home by a Galaxy team that didn’t even bring Robbie Keane, and left Alan Gordon on the bench when the lineups were announced. Nguyen isn’t bagging goals by the bushels this year, to be sure, but his influence on the offense, which was stuck in neutral during the second half, was impossible to overlook.

2. Diego Fagundez wasn’t terrible, but it’s unlikely he’ll be back in the XI on Saturday. Fagundez certainly made a statement on that 37th minute free kick special. Not bad for a guy whose last free kick in game action came during his pre-Justin Bieber of MLS days. While that strike was something to behold, it shouldn’t overshadow the fact that he was ordinary at best on Sunday. In 77 minutes of action, he connected on only 60.7 percent of his passes, and his long-distance goal was the only shot he recorded on the evening. Where there moments in which he showed promise? Yes, especially during the first half. But did he make a case for taking Nguyen’s spot in the XI? No, unless, of course, we’re talking about Open Cup lineups.

3. The Revolution’s form in the final third continues to be their undoing. Call it the killer instinct, as Bunbury did after the game, but the Revolution were clearly missing something during the second half of Sunday’s match. Despite gaining the majority of the possession, the locals were, at times, downright pitiful near the Galaxy net. Their final third passing accuracy was a respectable 55 percent, but they only turned it into two shots on target from the run of play over the course of 90 minutes. Sure, some of that can be attributable to performances from Omar Gonzalez, Oscar Sorto and Leonardo. But collecting only three total shots at home against a defense that’s looked very average this year isn’t exactly bolstering the ol’ Gillette Stadium-as-a-fortress concept.

4. Mental lapses continue to hurt the Revolution. Jay Heaps was visibly frustrated during the post-game presser, and with good reason. After his team went up early, they all but invited the Galaxy to grab the equalizer and go-ahead with some awful positioning and careless marking. Such developments often made Jose Villarreal and Ignacio Maganto look like the second coming of Mike Magee and Landon Donovan during the first half, despite the slippery conditions. At times, the Revolution’s shape looked like recess at the local elementary school. It’s hard to measure mental sharpness, but it’s easy to see when it’s lacking. Players who aren’t locked in miss assignments, ball watch, and give away possession, all of which we’ve seen too often over the last five weeks.

5. Daigo Kobayashi’s role should expand if Jones is out for a prolonged amount of time. It almost seems like a lifetime ago when the Revolution’s defensive midfield duo was actually Kobayashi and Scott Caldwell while Jones recovered from surgery. A hamstring injury put Kobayashi on the shelf for nearly two months, leaving Andy Dorman next in line to partner with Caldwell while Jones pretended to play center back. But with the Japanese midfielder finally healthy, we may see more of him over the next few weeks if Jones is out for extended period of time. Considering Kobayashi’s strengths, there are far more troubling predicaments out there. His vision and technique was praised by Heaps earlier this year, and his ability to create opportunities was evident earlier this season, even though plenty of those chances went to waste. No one will mistake Kobayashi for Jones, but what the former brings to the equation is enough for the Revolution to survive without the latter.

Leave a Reply