New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: Revolution vs. D.C. United

Clyde Simms faced his former team, D.C. United, for the first time in Saturday's 2-1 loss. (Photo: Chris Aduama/

It started well enough for the Revolution, but for the second straight game, it couldn’t close the door in the final scenes as D.C. United triumphed with a 2-1 win Saturday.

Sure, Jose Moreno made an immediate impact with his 6th minute goal. But without Shalrie Joseph on field, the Revs struggled to assert themselves in front of the home fans and, at the end of 90 minutes, watched a six-point swing go the wrong way.

Here are five things we learned from Saturday’s conference clash.

1. Matt Reis may be one of the best keepers in MLS, but let’s be honest: he can’t keep doing it alone. For the second straight game, Reis had to don the Superman cape to keep the score close. Whether it was Dwayne DeRosario’s rocket from distance in the 6th, Danny Cruz’s 13th minute shot from Nick DeLeon’s corner, or Josh Wolff’s 81st minute effort, the Revs relied heavily on Reis to come through in the clutch – which he usually does. But, he needs his defense to put together some heroics of its own as well. Sure, it was a wide-open game from start to finish. Even so, the back four has to do better to tighten up and avoid instances (see: 19th minute and 82nd minute goals) that leave Reis helpless.

2. Even when Lee Nguyen needs an IV before the game, he’s still one of the best players on the field. During the post-match presser, Jay Heaps revealed that his starting left sided midfielder was ill enough to require intravenous fluids before stepping on the field. Well, you couldn’t have ascertained it by the way he played. Not only did he allow create a number of early chances, but he also chipped in defensively by heading a Robbie Russell ball off the line in the 22nd minute. Although he couldn’t go a full 90, he certainly left it all out on the pitch for as long as he could – and hardly missed a beat.

3. Saer Sene may have already proven he can score goals in MLS, but he needs to fix the lens on his scope. Sene whipped in a great ball on the Jose Moreno goal, and he should be applauded for it. But what wasn’t applause-worthy was his propensity to put the ball either right to Kevin Willis or yards wide of frame. There’s no question that Sene has the ability to put some shots on frame. But he has to do better to find the back of the net, especially when the service is there. Otherwise, it may not be long before Bjorn Runstrom is called upon to play the role of supporting striker.

4. Saturday’s performance continues to reinforces one unavoidable truth: the Revolution is lost without Shalrie Joseph. And in saying that, it’s time to start thinking about the future. OK, so the Revs may have played better on Saturday than the last time Shalrie missed a match due to suspension (see last year’s 3-0 drubbing against the Union on Jul. 16). But let’s be honest: they’d be up a creek if their skipper had to miss a significant amount of time. Last year, there was some thought given to the idea of Stephen McCarthy possibly inheriting Joseph’s role down the road. And who knows? That idea may not be completely dead. Granted, it’s not easy to replace a center half of Joseph’s caliber. But, the Revs can’t continue to assume that Joseph – who’ll turn 34 next month – will be ready to go every week perfectly healthy (or without incurring a retroactive suspension, for that matter). It’s time to start considering grooming – or think about acquiring – a potential apprentice.

5. Jay Heaps cares more about results than the scoreline. Shortly after Chris Pontius gave D.C. the upper hand, Heaps could’ve easily made a direct switch when he introduced Fernando Cardenas in the 86th minute. Instead, he took out Kevin Alston, leaving only three defenders in front of Reis. Although the move may not have produced its intended result, it was a refreshing idea. Instead of playing it close to the vest and limiting the damage, Heaps wanted points and that substitution reinforced that idea. Sure, a three-man backline could’ve opened the door for another D.C. goal. But so what? A 2-1 loss still leaves you with the same amount of points as a 3-1 defeat: zero.


  1. Scott

    April 15, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Agree w/ #5. That Alston substitution was very interesting, a refreshing change from last year. I wasn’t sure if I agreed with it, but it was a ballsy move.

  2. Soccer Soap Box

    April 15, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    Nice list.

    I’m all over number 5… if there’s a new “attacking” mentality, they need to see it through and go for it. Question is, will this get tested as the season wears on? Will be interesting to watch.

    Number four is an interesting one. If Simms was a youngster, he’d be the one to groom. More importantly, I think the team is better when Shalrie is on the fiend an “turned on”… but that hasn’t been the case in all the games this year.

    Will be an interesting 2012 no matter how you slice it.

  3. Ben Saufley

    April 16, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Good points except for the disparity between 2 and 3. You can’t praise Nguyen while criticizing Sene. Dude has two goals and an assist while still regaining match fitness. Nguyen has 11 shots this season, 2 of which have been on frame (this from the Revs website – may not count last game). For comparison, Sene’s numbers at that source are 9 shots, 6 on frame. So if you want to talk accuracy, hanging onto the ball, you can’t argue FOR Nguyen and against Sene.

    I was talking to Abram Chamberlain about it and his suggestion is that they both have some work to do to become more complete – the finishing isn’t quite there yet for the entire team, despite some early excitement – and that Nguyen is definitely fun to watch. That’s a fair assertion. Nguyen’s footwork is definitely fun to watch, and I think both players need to improve – I have high hopes for Sene and he isn’t quite meeting them. But Nguyen, as talented as he clearly is, and I’m not arguing that he isn’t, is not producing to match that potential yet.

    I don’t want to cut down Nguyen. I like him. He’s clearly skilled, and I think he’s a great addition to the team. But I don’t think he’s really done as much for the team as the hype sometimes says. I think he will; but I don’t think he has yet.

    Some more food for thought: the somewhat-mysterious MLS Fantasy stats for the last game had the following:

    Saer Sene: 1 assist, 1 cross, 4 key passes, 1 “big chance created”, 3 recoveries
    Lee Nguyen: 1 cross, 1 recovery

    As an interesting comparison, look at Ryan Guy on the other side of the field from Nguyen (whom, I must say, I didn’t notice much):

    4 crosses, 5 key passes, 2 clearances, blocks, and interceptions

  4. Brian O'Connell

    April 16, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Thanks for the comment. I think the criticism between Sene and Nguyen is fair for the simple fact that they play different positions. Would you judge defenders and midfielders on the same criteria? Probably not. So while Nguyen doesn’t convert all of his shots, it’s not what he’s on the field for. Sene, as a forward, has to bury the chances afforded to him. Is he going to nail each one? No. But it’s responsibility is to put the ball into the net when he gets the chance. He had three shots on goal, and each pretty much went right to Willis. He has to do better than that. I don’t disregard his two previous goals, but he wasn’t sharp on Saturday. That’s the only point I was making.

    As far as Nguyen goes – I think he adds another dimension to an attack that was terribly vanilla last year. So in that respect, he’s been a tremendous addition. And that’s to say nothing of his propensity to actually track back on defense. So, I wouldn’t call it hype considering how poor the Revs were along the wings last year and how much better they are this year. Can he be better? Definitely. By no means is he the most complete player to ever step onto the Gillette Stadium turf. But even if he’s only currently playing at, say, 75% of his potential right now, then praise is deserved. Because 75% of Nguyen is better than 100% of a few guys who were on the team last year.

    Btw, interesting comparisons on the statlines for Nguyen and Guy. I wish that MLS would either explain or contextualize its stats. What defines a “key pass?” Or a “big chance created?” Seriously, what is this? Sesame Street? Because based upon what alot of us saw in the press box, Guy had a forgettable game, yet his statline would suggest he played better than Nguyen. Very odd.

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