New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: #NEvHOU

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

After enduring not one, but two, lengthy delays due to lightning, the Revolution rewarded the hearty holdovers by scoring on each side of midnight to secure a 2-0 win over the Dynamo, thus extending their modest unbeaten streak to four.

What did we learn from Saturday’s/Sunday’s match? Well, let’s take a look at the tape, which wasn’t easy because modern DVR is no match for Mother Nature and her ability to throw a wrench into programming schedules.

1. This team’s mental focus is miles better than it was a month ago. Remember when the Revolution were practically inventing new ways to lose games? Well, Saturday’s performance was proof those days are definitely in the rearview. On a night that had all the makings of scoreless draw, the Revolution took advantage of a lucky bounce (see A.J. Cochran’s botched clearance), then pulled away on lightning-quick counterattack late. Note: teams that aren’t mentally locked in waste both opportunities, end up settling for a home draw, if they’re lucky, and are doomed to answering the questions about missed opportunities. Again. And again.

2. Jeremy Hall is the starting right back ’til further notice. If Bill Belichick coached soccer instead of football, you have to think one of his favorite players would be Hall. The converted fullback isn’t only versatile, but he simply does what is asked of him. Over the last four games, we’ve seen Hall stick to the fundamentals, playing a safety-first brand of soccer to help strengthen a defense that was all too vulnerable earlier this summer. But on Saturday, Hall didn’t just stay back – he injected himself into the offense, as well, by connecting passes with teammates on the other side of the halfway line.

3. Set pieces continue to be a strength for the Revolution. Talk about giving an opponent a taste of its own medicine. Heading into Saturday’s match, much of the talk centered on how the locals were going to keep the left-footed David Beckham (see: Brad Davis) from making an impact. Well, to the Revolution’s credit, they were able to turn the tables on set piece happy Houston. Although they may have needed a little help from Cochran to capitalize on Lee Nguyen’s short corner, the fact of the matter is that the Revolution were able to capitalize, showing that the attack can be just as dangerous in dead ball situations as it is during the run of play.

4. Juan Agudelo made a strong bid for a return to the XI. After the lightning finally subsided late in the evening, Revolution supporters were treated to a strong cameo from the nearly-forgotten member of the Big Three (aka The Boston Three Party). In 32 minutes of action, Agudelo connected on all eight of his passes, provided brute strength against the Dynamo’s heavy-duty center backs, and also happened to score the goal that put the victory firmly in the Revolution’s hands. For those who believe that the 22-year-old may have to do more to get his job back:  remember that Kelyn Rowe scratched and clawed his way back into the XI with a similarly-strong performance off the bench at Chicago three weeks ago.

5. The Jose Goncalves we’ve seen over the last three games is the one the Revolution will need to stick around so they make another strong postseason push. Is it us, or is the Portuguese center back we’ve seen over the last few weeks bears an eerily similar likeness to the one who manned the left center back spot for the Revolution in 2013? Since returning from his red card suspension three weeks ago, Goncalves has been a rock in the rear, and not a moment too soon. After a series of uninspiring performances earlier this summer, Goncalves has hushed the critics by providing stability and strength, and as we saw on Saturday, providing a dose of offense when called upon.

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