New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: #NYCvNE

Photo credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

Photo credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

For all the shade opposing coaches throw at Gillette Stadium and its rubberized turf, can we talk about the utter chaos that Yankee Stadium promotes with its alley-width pitch?

Whether you watched Saturday’s match from the stands or on the flat screen, #NYCvNE bore a remarkable resemblance to table soccer. A real-life demonstration of everyone’s favorite basement game starring the likes of David Villa and Andrea Pirlo, with Patrick Vieira spinning the bars for New York City FC. And of course, the way both goals were scored was reminiscent of a classic, late-night contest against your brother or sister (by blood or pledge) down in the cellar.

Sure, Yankee Stadium is a great place for the National Pastime. It may boast an impeccable natural surface, one that allows for players to hit their passes true. But it is terribly suited for the Beautiful Game, something which we all knew already, but were reminded of again when Chris Tierney channeled his inner Derek Jeter by nearly crashing into the seats along the third base line while chasing down a wayward Teal Bunbury cross during the first half.

All grievances aside, Saturday’s match wasn’t without entertainment value. You know, when the camerawork wasn’t giving the audience back at home motion sickness. So now that we’ve sufficiently recovered, let’s look back at all the bedlam that unfolded in the Bronx, and talk about we took away from it.

1. Hey, look! The bounces – okay, maybe one bounce – went the Revolution’s way. After watching two deflected shots fall into the back of their net last Sunday, the Revolution had to take some solace in the knowledge that they weren’t the only side the soccer gods were enjoying a good chortling at this year. Yes, David Villa’s shot off the bar may have fallen right into Tommy McNamara’s path for the opener. But to see the most accurate free kick taker in MLS score the equalizer via a fortuitous ricochet was proof positive that the gods had clearly picked another club from which to get their laughs in this weekend (see: the plight of the Houston Dynamo in Vancouver on Saturday).

2. Finding the back of the net remains a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Saturday’s showdown may not have been as frustrating for the Revolution as it was two weeks ago vs. DC, but some of the same final third hijinx we saw against United were on full display. Whether it was the carrier pigeons Teal Bunbury kept freeing or the donkey touch from Charlie Davies on his breakaway, the locals just couldn’t bury it when it mattered. Truth be told, if it wasn’t for Steven Mendoza’s leg, Saturday would’ve marked the third straight week without a goal for the locals. One can imagine that if the match ball had its own post-game presser, it would’ve had this message for the Revolution: help me, help you.

3. Jay Heaps should just start the game with 10 men. For the second week in a row, going down to 10 men awakened the Revolution attack. After Je-Vaughn Watson’s dismissal at Philly, the guests came alive, albeit against a Union side in lead protection mode. On Saturday, another adverse red card – this one at the expense of Gershon Koffie – spurred the attack, and against a City side that had no such inclination to drop numbers back. While Jay Heaps may have credited the fight of his 10-man side, it also begs the question: why does it take adversity for the Revolution attack to sharpen?

4. The Revolution coach would be wise to recognize that the referees remember things, too. It probably isn’t a reach to say that Heaps isn’t making many friends with the officials after seeing what unfolded during the last two games. Following the Union match, the Revolution coach criticized rookie referee Nima Saghafi. Six days later at Yankee Stadium, Heaps made a B-line for the officiating crew, and it didn’t look like he was looking to exchange pleasantries. Now, no one is saying that MLS referees are perfect. They’re human, just like the rest of us. As such, you have to think that the continued criticisms aren’t going to help his cause – or his squad’s cause, for that matter, when it comes to borderline calls like Koffie’s.

5. Leave it to the guy wearing no. 88 to separate himself from the rest of rookie pack. For the second week in a row, everyone’s favorite double-eight this side of the Connecticut/New York border was back on the field. Unlike last week’s garbage time cameo, Hollinger-Janzen was thrown into the fire in the midst of a level match on Saturday, a scenario far different than the one he stepped into at Talen Energy Stadium. Although the rookie forward wasn’t able to help his club find the game-winner, his introduction at a critical point in the game spoke volumes about how much trust the coaching staff already has in Hollinger-Janzen.

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