New England Soccer Today

Five Questions: Revolution vs. Dynamo

Lee Nguyen and Chris Tierney hope that Saturday's clash against the Dynamo will deliver more opportunities to celebrate. (Photo: Tony Biscaia/RevsNet)

It may not carry the same cache as the Revolution-Dynamo clashes of years past, but Saturday’s affair between the former MLS Cup rivals offers a number of its own storylines.

You name it: Two teams knotted for a mid-table spot. A rookie head coach looking to beat a team that denied him a ring – twice. A Revolution legend on the opposite bench. Oh, and an opportunity for the Revolution to come within a game of the break-even mark.

So what else is on the agenda in advance of Saturday’s contest? Well, I’m glad you asked…even if l, technically, asked myself.

1. What kind of impact will Clyde Simms’ absence have on the Revolution XI? In a grammatical fragment: Not positive. Simms has provided a breath of fresh air to the Revolution this year. He’s stabilized the midfield and strengthened the back four by staying true to his defensive responsibilities, for the most part. But his absence goes well beyond his spot alone. The Revolution may be forced to push Steven McCarthy into Simms’ role, with John Lozano resuming his spot at center back. Granted, this is just one of a handful of scenarios that may play out. But whichever manner Jay Heaps aims to address it, the team will have to figure it out. Fast.

2. Speaking of figuring it out fast, can the Revolution overcome their early-game woes? It happened in New York. It happened against Colorado. Again in Salt Lake. And again with the Whitecaps last week. The dreaded slow start. After Wednesday’s training, Revolution head coach Jay Heaps mentioned that the key to getting over the early-game struggles isn’t just about stepping on the gas. It’s about staying tight defensively. Limiting space and opportunities. Setting the tone without the ball, if you will. And that’s exactly what Heaps has preached this week: Leave the doors locked. Then, go out and hunt.

3. Can Blake Brettschneider make another case for keeping his spot up top? Two weeks ago, the second-year striker dazzled against one of the strongest defenses in the league at Rio Tinto Stadium. This week, another defensively sound squad will put Brettschneider to the test. With the focus on his strike partner – Saer Sene – Saturday’s game could present more opportunities for the former DC United striker to strengthen his case for the starter’s role. Positioning will be crucial, especially with Geoff Cameron nearby. But if Brettschneider can put himself in good spots, there’s no telling what he can do to make Jay Heaps job harder when filling out the starting lineups.

4. What can the Revolution do to render Brad Davis moot? Simple answer: Limit his space. Complicated answer: Press him, take the ball off his foot, don’t foul inside the attacking third, avoid conceding corners, mark out Brian Ching and Will Bruin on set pieces, and, perhaps for good measure, don’t be kind to him. That’s it. All easy to cross of on a checklist. But putting it into practice will be something the Revolution must do to keep the Dynamo from threatening. Granted, the Dynamo don’t always put the ball into the back of the net. But when they do, they prefer Brad Davis to help get it done.

5. What – if any – any impact will Ryan Guy have now that he’s returned to health? After weeks on the injury report, the team’s high-octane outside midfielder is ready to resume his duties. But what specific duties he’ll have on Saturday will be the question. Although Simms’ injury theoretically opens a door for Guy to start, the more likely scenario is a substitute appearance late, especially if it’s a low-scoring affair. Even though he’s missed the last four games, if there’s one thing we learned shortly after he joined the club last year, it’s that rust probably won’t be an issue.

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