New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: Revolution at Sounders

SHalrie-21

E-xRev Shalrie Joseph walks off the pitch at CenteryLink Field following Saturday’s 0-0 draw between the Sounders and Revolution. (Photo: Mike Russell/mikerussellfoto.com)

If laughter is the best medicine, then all we can really do is chuckle at the Revolution’s offensive futility.

For the fourth straight game, the local XI failed to score a goal. Worse, they couldn’t even find it within themselves to carve out a single shot on frame…for the second time in their last three games.

There’s no way to sugarcoat it: Saturday’s game was utterly difficult to watch. At times, it was as if the Revolution midfielders were playing “keep away”…with themselves. How else can you explain series after series of sudden turnovers?

Awful” doesn’t even begin to describe it. But there has to be a way we can make this goal drought a little more manageable.

After all, Revolution broadcasts don’t have to be gloomy when the team is stuck in a funk. On the contrary, why not inject some humor to it? One way to do it:  incorporate a laugh track. I mean, if it’s good enough for The Big Bang Theory or any other prime time sitcom, why not try it out for a Revolution broadcast?

Anyway, let’s give it a go right here, right now, using the actual match commentary of Revolution play-by-play man and all-around good guy Brad Feldman.

Situation: 35th minute. Andrew Farrell sends a ball to the left, where Lee Nguyen grabs it and shoots it well out of shouting distance of the left post.

Brad: “Farrell…gets a touch from Toja…”

(Hahaha…hahaha…[laugh quickly winds down])

“…Nguyen tricks his way into the middle, takes a shot that drags wide of the near post.”

(HAHAHAHAhahaha…[someone catches their breath])

Situation: 54th minute. Juan Toja beats Djimi Traore on a long kick from Bobby Shuttleworth and chips it well over the bar.

Brad: “Traore…that’s not what he wanted to do! Toja tries to lob the keeper, over the bar. That was a tough play, but worth the attempt.”

(Hahaha…ha…)

“You can see Toja’s the kind of guy who expects to put that in.”

(AAHHahaha…ahh-hahaha [someone carries the laugh a moment too long])

Situation: 82nd minute. Nguyen sets himself up for another shot, which skips about 15 yards wide of the left post.

Brad: “Lee Nguyen…Dorman…Rowe touches it for Nguyen, who’s into space…has his head up and drives it…”

(Haha, haha…)

“Revs are all saying that a Seattle player got a touch on it, but the referee was trailing the play and he had a good angle and said no, that’s not so…”

(…Haha….aha…haha…[random coughing])

What’s more: when the Revolution finally do find it in themselves to score a goal, you can pump in the traditional sitcom applause.

And when the camera pans to an attractive female fan or Rev Girl?

(Woooooooo! Owwwwww! Yeahhhh! [obligatory whistling])

I realize putting a laugh track on a Revolution broadcast doesn’t solve anything. It doesn’t make the goals wider, the accuracy better, or allow the team to use a modified ball that sprays mace into the eyes of the opposing goalkeeper on approach. But, hey, if the goals are going to be difficult to grab, why not make it a little easier on the viewers?

Speaking of making things easy, the Revolution pretty much handed the Sounders an excuse to grab their first win of the season on Saturday. Alas, the Sounders declined, and lo, a 0-0 draw ensued. But what can we take from a game that Sean Donahue so aptly coined “Scoreless in Seattle“?

1. The Revolution didn’t earn the draw; rather, the Sounders dropped two points. Say what you will about the Revolution’s improved defense this season, but they – and by extension, the rest of the team – were especially lucky that the Sounders didn’t finish them off on Saturday. Steve Zakuani made it a habit of toasting A.J. Soares and collected a pair of terrific chances for his efforts. Lamar Neagle found space and opportunities in the final third. Osvaldo Alonso came within inches of casting himself into the goal of the week conversation. No question: Seattle put on a clinic in nearly every respect. The Revolution defense, for their part, came up with a couple of strong stops. But the biggest reason the game ended 0-0 was due to the Sounders inability to capitalize, more than anything else.

2. Putting Saer Sene on the field was a case study in blind optimism. Since suffering a devastating ACL injury last August, the French forward has worked hard to return to action as soon as possible. He had the opportunity to rehab in his native France, but elected to stay Stateside to be with his teammates. All signs point to him embracing the opportunity to be a leader on this team. For all that, his return on Saturday was great to see. However, there was no way a rusty Sene was going to reverse the Revolution’s fortunes – especially the way the rest of teammates were playing. His first touch was off, his speed didn’t climb above second gear and, more than that, he seemed hesitant to take on defenders. Granted, he’ll be better next week, and in the weeks that follow. But on Saturday, he was in no position to will a goal out of the Revolution attack.

3. Kalifa Cisse looked really, really uncomfortable playing on turf. When the Revolution announced they’d signed the Malian International last fall, there were plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the team’s chances this season. After all, Cisse had played in the Premiership, and his resume indicated that he was a perfect antidote to the midfield woes seen after Shalrie Joseph was jettisoned. And he might be. Right now, though, he’s looked like a washed up version of his former self. Worse: he struggled to hold the ball, and had a devil of a time receiving passes. It’s one thing to be rusty coming back from injury, which was to be expected. However, it seemed as if he was often vexed by the way the ball played on the plastic surface, which can’t be good considering that, you know, the Revolution play their home games on artificial turf.

4. At some point, A.J. Soares has to start playing like a first round pick every game. Center back is a tough gig as it is. When things go awry in the rear, more often than not, one of the central defenders is either responsible for it, or is nearby when it all unfolds. On Saturday, Soares found himself in both positions on a number of occasions. As noted above, Zakuani feasted in Soares’ presence. Making matters worse, Soares displayed a confounding propensity to give possession away. Many felt that the addition of a veteran center back like Jose Goncalves would provide a better glimpse into the A.J. Soares that was taken sixth overall in 2011. And to be fair, we’ve seen more flashes of that player in the early going. Then again, seeing brief cameos of that improved player isn’t going to cut it for an entire season. Soares has to find a way to be the same player, game in and game out. Otherwise, it might not be long before Darrius Barnes or Stephen McCarthy takes the spot next to Goncalves.

5. It’s unclear what Juan Toja was exactly doing out there on Saturday, but it sure didn’t look like soccer. The whole “freelancing forward” concept was fun to watch in the first game of the season, when the Revolution actually created chances and scored a goal (!) as a result. It was controlled chaos, in a sense. You didn’t know what Toja’s objective was from one minute to the next, but heck, it worked. At least it did in Chicago. Since then: not so much. In the games following, the creative Colombian has done well to confuse and confound, going north, south, east, west and everywhere in between without rhyme or reason. On Saturday, it only got worse. In addition to wandering around the field like a lost child, he flailed and then flailed some more when the ball came near him. Not unexpectedly, the attack suffered as a result, and 90 minutes passed without putting a single shot on frame. If the Revolution are going to figure this goalscoring thing out, the first thing they might want to do is get Toja to put a lid on the over the top improv.

6 Comments

  1. Mat

    April 15, 2013 at 11:07 am

    This article is the best thing that came out of this game. I at least had a laugh. I admit I fast forwarded a lot of the game (I work 2nd shift Saturday nights) because I was so incredibly bored and frustrated by the Revs. I’m glad we aren’t losing these terrible games because it still leaves me with hope that we will sign a DP striker or turn things around somehow and be in the playoff run (even if we don’t make it, it will still be exciting to see).

    This game was terrible and I’m so glad I didn’t waste money on the mini game package this year and opted to work every weekend. I’ll take the money over watching games I can’t fast forward when they get painful to watch.

  2. Fredo

    April 15, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Was bored to tears with this game so much I wouldn’t let my roommates watch it with me. I would have been horrifically embarrassed as if I had been caught jerking off to unsavory beastiality.

    No one wanted the ball in the midfield and everyone was incapable of creating. Rowe is too isolated out on the right and Toja is really frantically doing nothing out there. Perhaps we could slot Fagundez in wide and pray something happens?

  3. weefuse

    April 15, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    I’m increasingly convinced that until the club is willing to pay top dollar for a DP striker (of foreign or domestic origin), nothing is going to change. $120,000 for Bengston (or $54,000 for Milton Caraglio!) probably isn’t going to do it- you get what you pay for. It doesn’t even have to be Robbie Keane money- Freddie Montero, Alvaro Saborio, and Chris Wondolowski all have delivered the goods for well under $1m.

    • Fredo

      April 15, 2013 at 12:58 pm

      Also, can there be a moratorium on new turf surfaces? This is not what you’re supposed to play soccer on. I mean the Revs practice on grass and then play on turf, its ridiculous.

  4. Chris B

    April 15, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Nice summary Brian. By the way, nice catch on the Shalrie pic, I didn’t know he had the Get Well KA thing under his jersey! Respect to him!

  5. KidKalik

    April 15, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    Attack starts with possesison out of the back. It’s up to the back four to create a predictable pattern of delivery such that the mid-field can make runs and expect to get service.
    Let Macca have a shot…it will make a difference.

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