New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: #NEvORL

Photo credit: Bernie Hoelschen/Prost Amerika

Photo credit: Bernie Hoelschen/Prost Amerika

So much for the rug of the real stuff slowing down the Revolution on Saturday.

Despite a few moments in which the ball behaved far differently than it did on the regular rubberized surface, the locals more than soldiered on en route to a 3-0 thrashing of a depleted Orlando City side that looked very much like that lion in the latest tifo display in front the of the Fort.

So what did we learn from what we saw on the temporary turf on Saturday?

1. Lee Nguyen may have just reinvented himself. Let’s call a spade a spade: 2015 has not been particularly kind to the Revolution playmaker. After scoring 18 goals last year, Nguyen not only struggled to find last year’s form, but grumbling about his contract only made the situation all the more awkward. Well, that was all forgotten on Saturday thanks to a new and different Nguyen. Instead of trying to exploit the central channel, he dragged defenders to open up space for others. He exploited pockets of space, and started to venture wide after Orlando City packed the center. The result: a three-assist game and a well-deserved shout out for Man of the Match.

2. Jay Heaps doesn’t focus solely on stats when it comes to player evaluations. Following Saturday’s match, the Revolution coach was asked whether he believed Nguyen’s performance was the best he’d seen all year. The answer, in summary form: no. Heaps wasn’t trying to troll the media with his answer, but rather, he said that he’d seen even stronger performances from Nguyen this year. In fact, Heaps disclosed that that stats likes assists and goals are only part of the equation when it comes to how he measure’s a player’s impact on a particular match. While Heaps was quick to give Nguyen all the credit for the three assists, he was quick to remind us that the real measure of a player’s impact can’t be told in numbers alone.

3. Juan Agudelo may not be a starter at the moment, but he’s been invaluable off the bench. It’s hard to say whether Agudelo has fully healed from the knee knock he suffered with the national team earlier this summer. After all, most coaches aren’t inclined to leave their third-highest paid player on the bench unless there’s an underlying issue in play. Either way, there’s no doubt the Revolution are getting the most out of the 22-year-old striker off the bench as of late. For third straight game, Agudelo was a dangerous presence in the latter stages, and for the second straight home game, he scored to put the game out of reach. One thing that’s undoubtedly helped: the return to his striker’s spot instead of out on the wing, where Agudelo seemed to get lost far too often.

4. The beat goes on for the backline. There’s no doubt that much of the press has been about the Revolution attack over the course of the team’s six-game unbeaten run. But it’s worth noting that only three goals have leaked through since mid-July, a testament to an unshakable backline. On Saturday, we saw more of the same, as Andrew Farrell and Jose Goncalves in particular brought a steadying presence. Granted, the Lions were without their two best players (Kaka and Cyle Larin). Either way, a clean sheet is a clean sheet, which only serves to boost the team’s collective confidence.

5. Jermaine who? (j/k) One of the biggest – if not the biggest – storyline for the locals heading into Saturday’s contest was how they’d weather the absence of Jones, who was just rounding into form following his latest sports hernia surgery. Apparently, this wasn’t as big a deal as we originally thought. The rounding into form that is, and not the sports hernia surgery, of course. With Jones in tow with the U.S. and Periscoping at every chance he could get, Daigo Kobayashi and Scott Caldwell held it down in the midfield, and both showed grit and vision to keep Orlando City from gaining any semblance of positive momentum at any time, really. While the Revolution will be more than happy to get Jones back this weekend in Toronto, it was positive development to see the locals barely skip a beat without their best player available.

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