New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: Revolution at Montreal

Ryan Guy made a strong case for more playing time in Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to Montreal. (Photo: Kari Heistad/

No one ever said that mid-week games – especially those on the road – were easy.

On Wednesday, the Revolution proved the truth of that axiom in Montreal. And many of their troubles were self-inflicted.

Whether it was the disheveled form in the final third, the continued struggles on attacking set pieces, or the lack of discipline in the defending third, the Revolution have no one to blame but themselves for Wednesday’s 2-1 loss.

While the loss to Toronto could’ve been chalked up to simple chance – a cold Shalrie Joseph positioned in the vicinity of Luis Silva before his game-winning strike – Wednesday’s loss to the expansion Impact was a well-deserved defeat.

So what else did we glean from Wednesday evening’s proceedings at Stade Saputo?

1. It doesn’t matter what formation Jay Heaps uses game-to-game. The results will remain the same until the execution improves. There’s no question Heaps likes to tinker with the formation. Whether it’s Saer Sene out wide as a right-sided midfielder, Ryan Guy as a second striker, or even Benny Feilhaber has a defensive mid, you can’t fault the first year head coach for not keeping it interesting. But in the wake of the team’s last two losses – against the second-worst (Toronto) and worst (Montreal) defenses in the league, no less – it really doesn’t matter how many guys are in the midfield or where the heck Sene is. If you don’t execute in the most crucial areas of the field, the results aren’t likely to change no matter what formation is used.

2. Matt Reis did just enough to keep the starting keeper’s spot…for now. Perhaps one of the biggest questions surrounding the starting XI was whether Heaps would go with Bobby Shuttleworth for a third straight game, or defer to the seasoned Reis for the road matchup. In the end, experience won out. Even though the move made sense on paper, the fact is Reis wasn’t exactly lights out. Sure he made some critical clearances and saves in the second half. And yes, he looked stronger on corners this time around. But there were still moments of miscommunication with his backline. It could also be argued that he was slow to position himself at the post on Nyassi’s game-winning volley. Sure, it wasn’t the worst night of Reis’ career. But he didn’t exactly make the strongest statement to stay in the starting XI.

3. Right now, Ryan Guy is the better option over Kelyn Rowe in the starting XI. In his last two games, the rookie midfielder has all but shown why he shouldn’t be in the starting XI. In the Red Bulls game, he all but disappeared from the match after the opening whistle (although he did manage to reappear in the 89th minute on a challenge with Ryan Meara, which drew a curious a one-game suspension). Against the Impact, Rowe reverted to the same uninvolved form. On the other hand, Guy, in his first game since May 26, energized the attack early with good runs. Granted, his passing in the final third could’ve been better. But, he didn’t hesitate to show for his teammates, especially on the attack. Was it as memorable as his two-goal performance in Chicago last year? Not at all. But on the whole, he was far more effective than the invisible rookie on Wednesday.

4. There’s no doubt that the skill has improved from last year’s squad. But the Revolution need to channel some of the toughness seen in 2011 to beat teams on the road in 2012. Talk to anyone who survived last year’s dismal 2011 campaign, and most will tell you that, despite the 6-9-4 record, the 2012 version has been an entertaining team to watch. The talent? Improved. The passing? Better. The energy? Unmistakable. Despite all that, the Revolution are too often pushed around by lesser teams, as seen in their last two games. On a number of occasions, they’re shoved out of the way, or chopped down below the knees. While Shalrie Joseph has gladly assumed the role of enforcer over the years, he shouldn’t be the only one dishing out the punishment – within reason, of course. Last year, it seemed as if everyone was gunning to win the red card sweepstakes. And while it’s encouraging to see the team playing smarter and sharper this season, it wouldn’t hurt to see a few players bring some grittiness to the table, especially on the road.

5. For all the grief Chris Tierney and Benny Feilhaber get for their set piece service, they’re definitely not being helped by their teammates in the area. Yes, it was difficult to watch corner after corner and free kick after free kick go unanswered against Toronto. But during Wednesday’s match, the service from Tierney and Lee Nguyen provided some decent opportunities from the corner flag had the Revolution been stronger in the box. Whether it was Saer Sene getting out-muscled or Blake Brettschneider’s questionable positioning, the Revolution personnel inside the 18 were getting beat to the ball time after time – and by Montreal’s league-worst defensive corps. The fact is, there are three important aspects to winning the aerial battle. One: positioning. And too many times, the positioning on dead ball situations hasn’t been great. Two: seeing the ball and anticipating its trajectory. At this level, there’s no excuse for not taking good angles on outswingers and inswingers. Three: the so-called will to win it. In recent weeks, the tape has shown that the Revolution attackers hasn’t wanted it enough to win the battles in front of the net.


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