New England Soccer Today

50/50 Fridays: Should the Revolution play the rookies for the rest of the season?

Every Friday, New England Soccer Today will tackle a pressing issue in the world of soccer. Each topic will be argued by a different writer each week,  with guest writers periodically appearing to add some flavor to the mix.

This week, our writers debate the following question: “Should the New England Revolution play their rookies now that they’ve been eliminated from postseason contention?” Arguing in the affirmative is Sean Donahue, while Brian O’Connell presents the dissenting view.

YES. The season is over. There is nothing left for the Revs to play for but pride. The past few seasons have shown the Revs need a serious roster overhaul. Now is the time to get a jump on next year and find out who belongs and who doesn’t.

The Revs know what they’ll get out of guys like Cory Gibbs, Khano Smith, and Pat Phelan. What they don’t yet know is what players like Roberto “Betu” Linck, Jason Griffiths, and Zak Boggs (if healthy) are capable of. Now is the time to find out if they can contribute to the team next year or if the team should be looking elsewhere.

It is clear the team needs some serious upgrades and though cutting Joseph Niouky and Edgaras Jankauskas opens up two and the expansion draft could open up more, the team needs a lot more new blood than that. Of the current starters, it should be pretty clear who has earned a spot on next year’s roster and who should be let go. That is not clear for Griffiths, Linck, and Boggs, who have only seen limited minutes. Seth Sinovic should also be given more time to get experience as he should feature more into the Revs plans next season. Zack Schilawski should get the chance to prove his early season form was more than just a fluke.

If Nicol doesn’t believe a player like Smith should be on next year’s roster than there is absolutely no reason to continue playing him now.  The past few seasons preseason hasn’t proven to be enough time to get the roster set, so they might as well start working on it now.

NO. Although the Revs have nothing to play for but pride, paychecks, and a few meaningless points, Steve Nicol would be wise to keep his youngest charges on the bench. As much as the manager might be tempted to treat these last four matches like reserve league action for the young and the restless, the last thing this club needs is another humiliating loss, or to fall into a deeper abyss in the goal differential department. Tomorrow’s game against Salt Lake is a nuclear disaster waiting to happen if it’s the Revolution reserves going out on the Gillette Stadium turf.

Plus, what kind of real experience will guys like Jason Griffiths, Seth Sinovic, Zack Schilawski, and Roberto Linck get if they’re too busy getting their tails handed to them? I’m typically all for inexperienced players getting maximum minutes, but these last four games are not the ideal forum, especially when three of the last four are against playoff-caliber clubs. It’s the kind of scenario that has FAIL written all over it.

As meaningless as these games are, they should not be treated as a proving ground, unless you’re looking for more goose eggs and injuries. It may be inconsequential, but by playing the regulars, the Revs can still shoot for a double-digit win total.

Besides, how many of these rookies are going to be around next season? My guess is that you’ll see a very big turnover on next year’s roster. There’s just no point in playing guys whose fates are pretty much sealed.

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