New England Soccer Today

Five Questions: #NEvNY

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

With a rare Friday night showdown set for Gillette Stadium (thank you, new-ish MLS TV deal!), let’s scrape our hooves and charge right into the questions surrounding the hosts, who head into the contest still in search mode for win no. 1.

1. Can Lee Nguyen be a difference maker? There’s little doubt the locals will need him to be. After last week’s frustrating affair at New York City, the Revolution could certainly use their best weapon on Friday, especially against a side that’s got firepower for days. After hitting the bar not once, but twice in his last two games, there’s no doubt the creative midfielder is itching to get goal no. 1, 2 and maybe even 3, for that matter. The fact that Nguyen didn’t see any action with the U.S. during his recent call-up might’ve been the biggest favor Jurgen Klinsmann has ever done for Jay Heaps. And let’s be honest: Klinsi owed him.

2. Who’ll step in for Gershon Koffie? With no. 7 suspended for round 1 of Revolution-Red Bulls, Heaps has a couple of options for the spot next to Scott Caldwell. Kelyn Rowe saw time in the defensive midfield during First Kick, and was immediately greeted with assorted flying elbows and legs before he was subbed off at halftime. If veteran grit is need against a stocked Red Bulls midfield, then Heaps may tab on Daigo Kobayashi for the start. Given the veteran’s ability to both create and get stuck in equally well, this might be the kind game that, if we’re lucky, inspires a Manga-themed tifo in his honor.

3. Will the Revolution once again adopt the Foul Felipe approach? It couldn’t hurt (figuratively, of course), but if they do, they’ll have to be judicious. Similar to a certain Federico Higuain, the Revolution can’t afford to hack the Brazilian midfielder in the final third, where a player of his precision can render a wall useless on free kicks. That said, look for the likes of Caldwell, Bunbury, and Rowe/Kobayashi/possible unexpected starter at DM to make things as difficult for Martins as possible. If worse comes to worse, the Revolution can always pull off a one-game inter-league loan for Jermaine Jones, an obscure MLS roster rule that only applies on one day of the year: April 1.

4. What must the Revolution do if the Red Bulls take a page out of the DC playbook? Simply put, they have to do something they need to do much, much more often: stretch the field. The last time we saw the Revolution in Foxboro, DC did well to flood the box, where guys like Nguyen, Diego Fagundez and Kelyn Rowe all like to make their moves. And it worked. In order to avoid an encore, the Revolution have to get more width from the right, where Bunbury and London Woodberry have to make some well-timed forays into the final third. If they don’t, the SAP call on Friday’s nationally-televised broadcast might not be the only frustrating aspect of the match.

5. What needs to happen for the Revs to get win no. 1? Aside from beating up and bruising Felipe and employing that novel concept of getting width from both their wingers and fullbacks, the Revolution absolutely have to capitalize on their chances, bottom line. When Fagundez, Nguyen, Bunbury and Charlie Davies have the ball at their feet close to goal, they have to bury it. And against a patchwork Red Bulls backline, they should find their fair share of chances. The excuses of shaking off the rust and ironing out the kinks are long expired going into Week 5. It’s time to put words into action, lest the points they’ve dropped due to poor finishing come back to haunt the Revolution later in the year, and they end up in Mark Geiger’s crosshairs again.

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