New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: Revolution vs. Rapids

Kevin Alston and the Revolution defense bottled the Rapids attack from the run of play in Wednesday's 2-1 win. (Photo: Walter Silva).

Sure, Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the Rapids may be best remembered most for the night that Matt Reis collected his 100th career win. But the rest of the Revolution 11 certainly did their parts to carve out three points.

Fernando Cardenas earned his keep in a surprise start by scoring the game-winner while Saer Sene responded to Jaime Castrillon’s strike with a keen volley that put the Revs level.

All in all, it was a classic Revolution victory: everyone chipping in for the greater good. But what else did we learn from Wednesday’s win?

When Saer Sene has no window to plot his shot, he buries his opportunities. Last week, Sene had a number of chances to put the Revs on the scoresheet in New York. And each time, he seemed to overthink his shot, which led to a string of missed opportunities. But on Wednesday, Sene did what he does best in front of frame: he simply reacts to the development. When Stephen McCarthy nodded it his way, Sene’s instincts kicked in and – what do you know? – he confidently volleyed it through to get his third goal of the season. The funny thing about all three goals? All are from one-time efforts in which Sene simply slots it home, with no time to plot the trajectory or overthink it. Interestingly, Jay Heaps mentioned that Sene’s goalscoring form is only a tip of the iceberg. If the French forward can figure out how to simply react with the ball at his feet inside the box, then he could be a top-10 striker.

Stephen McCarthy may yet be figuring out the center back position, but A.J. Soares is certainly improving his learning curve. For all the praise Soares has received for his ability to cancel out an opposing striker, one area he may not be getting enough credit for is his assistance in his fellow center back’s form. While Heaps admitted that his team’s form may not have been the best, especially in the second half, he did mention that his team’s “collective defense” was the key to seeing the result through. And behind that sentiment was the partnership that McCarthy and Soares were able to establish against the likes of Tony Cascio, Omar Cummings and Jaime Castrillon. Where there breaches? Yes. But it was encouraging to see Soares and McCarthy talking to each other when the Rapids crashed into the Revolution end.

Fernando Cardenas may be a man without a position, but if Heaps can mold him into a true outside midfielder, the Colombian could take away minutes from Ryan Guy. Many were surprised to the diminutive attacker get the start on the right, even given the current glut of games. But Cardenas rose to the occasion by getting involved in the attack early and linking with fellow Colombian Jose Moreno. But as the game progressed, he found Sene and Shalrie Joseph and stretched the field when needed. The icing on the cake, of course, was his deft chip over Matt Pickens to cap a night he won’t soon forget. Although Benny Feilhaber saw more of the ball, it was clear that Cardenas made more of his opportunities out on the right. If he can settle into the right side of the midfield and make it his own, there’s no telling what benefits the Revolution reap as a result.

Tired of losing despite technically-tighter performances, the Revolution decided to focus on getting forward and forgetting the possession scale. It could be argued that each of the three games the Revolution dropped prior to Wednesday could’ve have fallen in their favor had they gotten a break or lucky bounce. Their form certainly looked good. But what’s good form without anything to show for it? So before the game, Heaps emphasized that completing passes and holding the ball just weren’t good enough. He needed more. He needed them to send long balls and stretch the field. He needed numbers in the box. And the Revolution did just that. The fact that Sene’s goal was set up by McCarthy – a center back close to opposition’s left post – is telling of that idea. Sure, Reis may have been needed to thwart the Rapids on a few occasions. But, when the dust settled, it was three points in their pocket – regardless of how they got it.

Jay Heaps clearly wasn’t happy with Chris Tierney’s corner kicks on Saturday. And he may have made a mistake in letting Feilhaber take over Tierney’s duties from the flags on Wednesday. After the 1-0 loss to New York, Heaps lamented the lack of quality from the corner flags after a number of Chris Tierney efforts went astray. Enter Feilhaber, who inherited the corner kick duties on Wednesday. But the midfielder’s precision from the corners weren’t much better than the ones issued by Tierney at Red Bull Arena. Perhaps it was a message to Tierney: step up or step aside. Or maybe Feilhaber’s form in training looked especially dangerous. Either way, we’ll likely find out on Saturday whether Heaps will allow Tierney to resume his responsibilities from the corners, or whether the job is, for all intents and purposes, is now Feilhaber’s.


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