New England Soccer Today

Five Questions: Revolution at Sporting K.C.

The Revolution will need Lee Nguyen to deliver another solid game with first-place Sporting K.C. waiting for them at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park come Saturday. (Photo: Kari Heistad/

From the frying pan and into the fire.

Three days after getting grilled by the expansion Impact, the Revolution jump into the flames against conference king Sporting K.C. at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park – where temperatures are expected to reach triple-digits.

A match made in Hell? Yeah, you could say that.

However, if there’s one thing that’s certain in MLS it’s the uncertain. This season, we’ve seen Portland beat San Jose. Philadelphia thrash Kansas City. Minnesota (NASL) beat Real Salt Lake.

In short, it’s a bettor’s nightmare out there. Full-fledged unpredictability at it’s finest. And, let’s be honest, that’s really the only thing going in the Revolution’s favor for Saturday’s contest against K.C. – with the term “contest” used in the most liberal sense.

Of course, no one knows what exactly will transpire at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on Saturday between the hours of 7:30pm CT and 9:30pm CT. So naturally, we have questions.

1. How much will Jay Heaps tinker with the lineup on Saturday? The gaffer didn’t offer many clues during Friday’s teleconference with the media concerning his projected formation. And the number of people that surprised: zero. But, with the second game in four days on tap, expect more than a few wrinkles. Sure, we may see the five-man midfield. And yes, we may see Saer Sene up top again. However, with his team’s poor form in the final third still fresh in his mind, it’s quite possible that Pepe Moreno makes his return to the lineup. Another possible option: Diego Fagundez as withdrawn striker/attacking midfielder. Then again, if Pepe does see the field, that may also signal a start for Fernando Cardenas. You can never be sure after a midweek game. Unless, of course, you’re talking about changes. And it looks like there’s a strong possibility there will be some in Saturday’s starting lineup.

2. Will we see Pepe Moreno? Speaking of the Colombian striker, Saturday’s game might be the perfect time to re-introduce him into the starting XI. Given the faltering form in the final third, the tall target man be exactly what the Revolution need – and not just from the run of play. Given his aerial abilities, Moreno may be potential solution to some of the set piece woes. That, partnered with a keen sense of positioning, should make him a very attractive option on Saturday. It may be a reach to say that he can single-handedly reverse the recent struggles the Revolution have endured up top. But at the very least, he gives Heaps at least one more weapon – and a potentially dangerous one at that – counter some of the troubles his attack has run into during the last two games.

3. Which Benny Feilhaber will show up? At the risk of sounding like someone who just watched the midnight trilogy of the Christopher Nolan Batman series (full disclosure: I did), no one on the roster fits the personality of Harvey Dent more than the recently-mohawked midfielder. Some of it, of course, is self-inflicted. There’s no denying Feilhaber’s penchant for the killer pass – which we all know he is quite capable of when the “on” button is flicked. But the trade off is the maddening devotion to threading a 40-yard through ball or a last-second release near the area is, quite frankly,  a pile of missed passes. On the other hand, Feilhaber rarely seems to find his form outside of the hole. Out on the wing, he can be good. Same could be said for his assignment as a defensive mid in Montreal. But wherever he is, the form has to be consistent. He knows this, of course. He knows he can do better. This is good. And if the Revolution’s previous encounter in K.C. showed us glimpses of anything – at least prior Stephen McCarthy’s harsh red card – it was that Feilhaber was lightning in a bottle against Sporting K.C.’s defense.

4. Can the backline keep K.C. at bay? If you believe in magic – and I hope you do – then yes, yes the Revolution can absolutely wipe the floor with Sporting’s forwards. Put a six-pack past Jimmy Nielson? With ease. Anything can happen with magic. Back to reality: this is going to be one heck of a job for the Revolution back four to pull off. Some would call it impossible. This isn’t robbing the liquor store. No, it’s way, way more difficult than that. To steal three points in the sweltering heat at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park is like escorting $163 million from the Bellagio in dufflebags a la Danny Ocean-style. And we all know saw how many things could’ve gone wrong during that one. For the Revolution to get three points in K.C., they need to be flawless. They need to be precise – in every area of the field. They need to be disciplined. And yes, they need to be lucky. Very, very lucky. After all, Matt Reis probably isn’t going to pull a bunny out of his net.

5.  Which area of the field do the Revolution have to be at their strongest? Three words: The. Final. and Third. The Final Third. Yes, the 33.33333% of the pitch where, in recent action, the Revolution’s ideas have gone to die. For evidence, check out a replay of the Montreal game. That area in front of Donovan Ricketts was a graveyard. R.I.P., Saer Sene’s 36th minute shot. Godspeed, Lee Nguyen’s 58th minute blast. Good night, sweet prince to Clyde Simms’ 16th minute shot from outside the box. It’s no secret: the final third has been a horror show during the last two games. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, there’s more to it than adjusting the scope. It runs much deeper than that. It has everything to do with – you guessed it – execution. If the mistakes can be corrected, there’s no telling where a sharper attack can take this team.


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