New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: Revolution vs. Impact

Revolution midfielder Lee Nguyen sparked a few chances in Sunday’s 1-0 loss against the Impact. (Photo: Kari Heistad/

It’s time to can the “one mistake killed us” excuse.

For the last six games, it’s been become the go-to phrase when a bad bounce, an unsettling sequence of unwatchable defending, a concentration lapse, or a moment of indifference has cost the Revolution points.

“One mistake killed us.”

Here’s the problem with that phrase: it’s pretty much false.

Yes, mistakes have taken a huge bite out of the Revolution’s playoff chances. But real reason why mistakes are killing them is because of this: the attack has been in a month-long coma. And the math doesn’t lie.

If we add up the number of pure mistakes – mistakes in which an opponent has unquestionably outclassed a player or players en route to a goal – in the last six games and compare them to the number of goals the Revolution have scored, you’ll find that the obvious mistakes (at least four) outnumber the goals (two). Forget the fact the they’re avoiding the blowout. The Revolution are handing out points the way cute co-eds hand out party fliers out on the quad.

And yet, even if the dreaded mistakes don’t occur, the Revolution are hypothetically left with a trio of 0-0 home draws. Note: that’s still not good enough.

Mistakes aren’t what’s keeping this club in contention for next year’s first overall pick. It’s their wretched form in the final third that’s doing the trick. Plain and simple.

So with another round of wasted chances keeping the Revolution out of the win column, let’s take a look at what we learned from Sunday’s clash.

1. If the Revolution want to commit themselves to attacking soccer, then they need to start employing more off the ball runs. In theory, the idea of switching players in and out of position could’ve worked. Definitely could’ve worked with the worst road team in the league. But there was one problem: where were the off the ball runs? When Lee Nguyen had the ball, a host of players around him seemed comfortable to jog along rather than cut inside, go wide or provide support. Instead of going for the kill, the Revolution stayed static on a number of occasions. They stayed predictable. And because of it, the Impact walked away with a rare road win.

2. Speaking of the attack, did somebody forget to tell Jerry Bengtson that his name was listed in the starting XI? Sixteen times. Yes, that’s the number of times the Revolution’s lone designated player touched the ball on Sunday. Olympic hangover, anyone? Yes, he may have been less than rested coming off of a concentrated spell of competitive games and the accompanying trans-atlantic flights. But the Honduran international isn’t being paid to loaf it through league games. Instead of showing for a pass inside the area, stretching the defense or making himself a nuisance for Montreal’s center backs, he slipped quietly into the night. He became the opposite of what he should’ve been: the non-factor. Olympic duty or not, McKayla Maroney is not impressed.

3. The Revolution need to stop feeling bad for themselves and start playing without fear of the bad bounce or officiating blunder. If there’s one thing the Revolution have done well in recent weeks it’s grabbing the pint of Ben & Jerry’s, parking themselves in front of the TV, and watching The Notebook on repeat all day. In other words, they need to toss the wubby away and face the world. It’s one thing to feel the momentary sting of a ball off the bar, a harsh penalty call, or a missed handball inside the area. But the world doesn’t conspire to work against a soccer team. There isn’t a jinx or curse on the Revolution (at last check, at least). It’s time to do away with the box of tissues and put the Chunky Monkey back in the freezer. It’s time to get back to work. This is soccer, not a Jennifer Aniston movie.

4. No one seems to know what exactly is keeping the Revolution from seizing their chances. You can talk about effort. You can talk about finding the final pass or cashing in on a final touch, but the fact is it’s all talk. No one really knows what the root cause is. Some day it’s poor technique. Others say it’s a mental. And another group of others have mentioned it’s the quality of players. We’ve got a lot of guesses, but no one really knows. One thing we do know is this: it’s a problem that no one has figured out a solution for. No one. And while that remains true, it looks like it’s going to be a tough trek to the finish.

5. The Revolution are in dire need of a tempo setter. Last week, the Revolution failed to establish any kind of rhythm against a very good Sporting K.C. This week, a pushover like Montreal effectively schooled New England in squeezing out a win on the road. The common denominator: both teams effectively knocked the attack off-kilter by playing an agitating, physical brand of football. That said, it’s time for Mike Burns to bring in a player who can keep the attack together. A player who can read the game, and get his teammates on the same page when a Montreal, Toronto, Columbus or Sporting K.C. come in and bring the baseball bats and brass knuckles. OK, so it won’t be easy to find another Shalrie Joseph. But signing a player who has similar qualities would at least give the Revolution an opportunity to salvage the remainder of the season.


  1. drizzl

    August 14, 2012 at 9:30 am

    The problem is that we need Feilhaber to fucking do what he was brought in to do. He’s supposed to be the tempo setter, the playmaker and all he does is mope that he’s stuck playing in New England.

    I’m getting kind of tired of his antics.

    • weefuse

      August 14, 2012 at 11:32 am

      Amen. He’s also a red card-in-waiting in most matches.

  2. Chris B

    August 14, 2012 at 10:01 am

    “If there’s one thing the Revolution have done well in recent weeks it’s grabbing the pint of Ben & Jerry’s, parking themselves in front of the TV, and watching The Notebook on repeat all day.”

    So that’s what they’re actually doing when Heaps says they’re “going back to watch the tape”! 😉

  3. Chris B

    August 14, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Besides eating ice cream and watching chick flicks I bet they’re also listening to “Someone Like You” by Adele on repeat while crying into Shalrie Joseph’s jersey!

  4. rick sewall

    August 14, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    The Rev’s lack of scoring may be partly caused by mental or lack of talent problems, but there is one thing they could actually work on to help their situation- shooting technique, or the basic fastball power kick. They do this poorly . Doesn’t the staff at least sense this? I feel that if they really learned to do it correctly their confidence would increase and goals would follow. They would hit the target far more often and would score goals resulting from deflections. Their main problem begins with what they are- a professional organization. Most coaches at this level [also at the collegiate level] feel that is beneath them to teach basic technique { I doubt if they even know it], and the players think their technique is fine, so the Revs continue to ignore an important aspect of their goal scoring problem. Also, could they ever use Paul Scholes in his prime.

  5. Brian O'Connell

    August 14, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    I literally LOL’d at that comment, Chris B 😀

    • Chris B

      August 14, 2012 at 4:45 pm

      Haha which one? Probably the second one right?

      All jokes aside, this is a another great piece. I love your combination of soccer analysis and humor in the 5 questions and 5 things we learned pieces!

  6. Robert

    August 14, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Any chance of talking Taylor Twellman out of retirement?

  7. rick sewall

    August 14, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Maybe he wouldn’t score, but Taylor’s very positive attitude would help this team a lot, goals or no goals.

  8. Brian

    August 14, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    I know there are others who know a lot more than I, however I consistently feel a big challenge is the utilization of players outside their strengths. For example, is Benny a deep laying midfielder by design, his own choosing , by default? His most effective games seem to have been when he is in his more natural foward thinking role.

    End result in many cases is there is no width and we end with 5 central midfielders (deliberate over exaggeration) who clog the center limit the space stagnate creativity and blur the lines between what they are good at and where they should be. They are players played where they are destined to be less effective (see guy or rowe to an extent) or not meet their clear potential (Benny). The challenge is there is no obvious solution, perhaps the best team for the revs is not the most talented one…

  9. Robert

    August 14, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    With nothing to lose (13 pts out of a playoff spot?), I say do something drastic. How about teaming Nguyen or Feilhaber up front with Bengston, or Bengston on top alone with Benny, Lee, Simms, Rowe, and, say, Cardenas in the midfield and just let them go forward. I’m just a soccer novice, but they all seem to be pretty good playmakers. I also like Lechner, who I believe should get more playing time. Maybe I’m missing something, but I like him over Alston who can be frustrating to me. I see Lechner as a more polished option on the attack as he proved with the cross against Toronto. Let him start. I know Sene is our leading goal scorer, but he also can be a little frustrating, especially when he’s trying to maneuver the ball to his left foot. He has scored nine goals, but he has also left plenty of goals on the field. That’s why I prefer Bengston ( just to see what he can bring). However the season finishes, I think we have the right head coach for the Revs and the future looks very bright as this season is just the start of a new era for the Revolution. Remember, the Godfather of all coaches, Bill Belichick, was 5-11 in his first season in Foxborough and things turned out pretty well in New England. Go Revs

  10. rick sewall

    August 14, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Don’t worry about being a soccer novice. I have known plenty of people who have had better ideas about how the game should be played than those who have been involved in the game for many years, and I mean many. You made a lot of valid points.

  11. rick sewall

    August 14, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    I absolutely agree with your fifth point- the Revs seriously need a midfielder who knows how to play ball.

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