New England Soccer Today

Turning Down the Sound

When the Revolution step onto the pitch on Saturday night, they’ll have two objectives: avoid another embarrassment and, if successful, steal three points in the process.

Both will be easier said than done, of course. With the high-octane Seattle Sounders in town, the Revs will have their hands full against one of the most well-balanced clubs in the league.

It’s not by accident, of course. The Sounders featured the double-headed monster of Fredy Montero and Alvaro Fernandez, both of whom have racked up double-digit goal totals this year. Although both featured in Wednesday’s 2-2 draw against Comunicaciones in Guatemala, expect Sigi Schmid to start both of them with the hopes of getting an early advantage, then resting them near the hour if all goes according to schedule.

Another player the Revs will have to worry about is Osvaldo Alonso, a fearless center half who’s quickly become one of the best in the business. With Alonso lurking, ready to pounce at any moment, the Revs defends will need to be on point if they want to keep the Cuban midfielder from springing the attack.

Then, of course, there is Kasey Keller. The former EPL keeper, who announced that 2011 will be his final season, is putting together one of his finest seasons. Racking up 11 clean sheets and sporting a sparkling 1.06 GAA in all competitions this season, the 41-year-old can single-handedly snuff out an opponent without remorse.

So with a strong Seattle side before them, what can the Revs do to thwart the Sounders’ intentions?

First, the center backs – whether it’s Ryan Cochrane or A.J. Soares alongside Darrius Barnes – will have to mark out Montero, Fernandez, and long-time Revs-killer Nate Jacqua at the onset. Recent form (six goals allowed in their last two games) suggests that the Revs might find themselves overmatched against Seattle’s attack, but inside the friendly confines of Gillette Stadium, where the Revs have claimed four of the five shutouts this season, the defense has played noticeably sharper.

Next, they’ll have to come out with their guns blazing against the likes of Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Leonardo Gonzalez, both of whom have relied on physical, rather than cerebral, play to keep their opponents out of the box. A few keen runs by Milton Caraglio and Shalrie Joseph could prove to be the perfect elixir against the tough Seattle centerbacks.

Additionally, the wing players will absolutely need to get involved on the attack. Seattle is not the kind of team to play conservatively against. Therefore, the Revs will need the likes of Ryan Guy, Kenny Mansally, Chris Tierney, and Kevin Alston to crash the attacking third with deep runs to keep the pressure on the guests, lest the hosts fall into another first half deficit.

Although the Revs may be anxious to play the spoiler against the second-best team in the league, they’ll have to approach the match in their rightful role: the underdog. The Revs have to realize that they’re the weaker team – at least on paper.

But, the advantage lies therein: they’re they hunter, and not the hunted, especially with their playoff dream on its deathknell. Much like their last home match – a 2-0 win over FC Dallas – the squad has to be ready to take advantage of a team that, in all likelihood, is already looking ahead of this weekend.

If the Revs do anything on Saturday, they’ll have to show that the last two games were aberrations. They’ll have to show that they’re the same team that’s capable of a crowd-pleasing upset. They’ll have to show that, even with the postseason out of reach, the they’re ready to find some measure of redemption in the midst of their worst season since 1998.

One way to do that? Pilfering a trio of points against the sizzling Sounders. It may not deliver them to the playoffs, but it would be a positive development amid a season that hasn’t seen enough of them in New England.

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