New England Soccer Today

Five Questions: Revolution at Chivas USA

Diego Fagundez, seen here against Chivas USA last August, will need to help the attack spear through a porous Rojiblancos back four. (Photo: Kari Heistad/

Diego Fagundez, seen here against Chivas USA last August, will need to help the attack spear through a porous Rojiblancos back four. (Photo: Kari Heistad/

Earlier this week, writer Jeff Lemieux gave us an excellent, statistically-sound argument for Jose Goncalves earning a spot on the All-Star roster. It was the kind of column you don’t often see in the soccersphere: A column that uses the hard numbers, rather than the eyeball test and a handful of semi-relevant stats, to outline a player’s value.

In his piece, Lemieux takes a look at some pretty insightful statistics that make the case for the central defender’s inclusion on the All-Star team. Among them:

– Goncalves’  65.9 percent overall duel winning percentage, good for third in MLS, and a stat that makes him only one of three defenders inside of the top 10 in both aerial and ground duel winning percentage.

-His 88.9 percent successful tackle percentage, putting him at eighth in the league in that category.

-Goncalves has collected 112 recoveries (tied for first), 169 combined clearances/blocks/interceptions (third) and nine clean sheets (first).

Impressed? You’re not the only one. These aren’t just great numbers. They’re enlightening. They give us a great deal of insight into just how good Goncalves has been this year. However, they’re also a collection of numbers that, without Lemieux’s article, you probably wouldn’t have known anything about.

Think about that for second. MLS and OPTA are collecting relevant and discussion-worthy stats and data, and for the most part, they are withholding them from you, the fan. The fan who is counted upon annually to participate in all-star voting.

If we want smart voting, and more intelligent articles like Jeff Lemiuex’s, then MLS and OPTA need to disclose all relevant statistics. If it’s proprietary information, then MLS should find a sponsor. Or perhaps the league could use some of the $100 million that Manchester City and the New York Yankees paid on NYC FC’s franchise fee. Heck, ask Red Bull to bankroll it.

To keep such valuable information in secrecy is, putting it diplomatically, a huge disservice. Not only its fans and the media, but as we’ve seen with Goncalves, who hasn’t cracked the top 7 in voting among defenders, to its own players.

Actually, when it comes to players, who rely upon awards and honors at the negotiating table, it’s more than a disservice. It’s a travesty.

We never hide or conceal anything when it comes to our weekly list of five questions, which are fully revealed below.

1. Will the Revolution attack bother to show up against a weaker opponent? Three weeks ago, the Revolution, fresh off a five-goal thumping of the Galaxy, laid an ostrich egg against the lowly D.C. United. Incredibly, the offense sputtered once again pitted against D.C. earlier this week, and the Revolution needed the help of a fortuitous Joe Willis deflection to avoid another zero against the worst defense in the conference.  With D.C.’s western counterpart on tap, the Revolution must be careful not to make the same mistakes. Because the stream of Wednesday’s contest was essentially visual waterboarding, most of us don’t know what exactly transpired. We don’t know if the ideas were lacking or purely unlucky. What we do know is this: Recent history has shown that the Revolution haven’t played to their attacking potential against bottomfeeding opposition. If the Revolution have learned the lessons of their two performances against D.C., and channel the form see in Vancouver two weeks ago, they’ll be fine. If not, you might need a strong cup of coffee – for each half – to make it to the end of Saturday’s late-night clash.

2. Can the defense resume its form from two weeks ago? Going into Vancouver two weeks ago, New England’s back four was riding a franchise-high 395 minute clean sheet streak. That run went to 420 minutes before an unfortunate Andrew Farrell red card set in motion a four-goal scorching by the Whitecaps, then a three-goal, WTH? against an anemic D.C. attack. For those keeping score, that’s seven goals in their last 180 minutes. Of course, it’s worth noting that the four scores given up at BC Place were all conceded by a shorthanded Revolution side. Then again, getting lit up for three goals by the worst offense in the league is a front-page tabloid embarrassment. Granted, we know the clean sheet streak wasn’t going to last forever. We all know that line about what happens to all good things. That’s life. However, against a Chivas team that’s only scored two goals in its last seven games, the Revolution defense might just be ready to resume its stingy ways. Or, as history has shown, give up a slew of goals.

3. Will the travel catch up to the Revolution? It has not been a relaxing week for the Revolution. On paper, they may appear to be well-rested and refreshed, with their last league game coming two weeks ago. But a hectic week that saw them in Foxborough on Monday, D.C. on Tuesday, play an Open Cup tilt on Wednesday, then fly LA on Thursday may have them a bit more weary than expected. Yes, Jay Heaps rested a number of regulars during the Open Cup match, and arrived in SoCal early to get everyone acclimated. At the same time, the travel and jetlag can’t help. Even well-conditioned athletes can’t completely dodge the effects of a three-day, Boston-to-D.C.-to-L.A. travel itinerary. In light of that, Heaps will have to carefully manage minutes, and his players will have to smart with the ball, especially on a pitch as big as the one at the StubHub Center.

4. What can we expect from Juan Agudelo against his former teammates? True, the 20-year-old wasn’t in a Rojiblancos kit very long. In fact, he only lasted in L.A.  for 11 months before he was sent to New England last month. However, while few athletes ever admit to having extra motivation against a former club, the fact is that it’s hard to believe that Agudelo’s emotions won’t be heightened for Saturday’s contest. In 26 games with Chivas USA, he scored five goals and added four assists, and played briefly with ex-Revolution skipper Shalrie Joseph. The end of his tenure can best be summed up by one word: “Chelis.” Although Joseph and Chelis are no longer there, you have to think that the memories are still fresh. It’s unknown whether he harbors any animosity against the club for trading him. If he does, he isn’t showing it. But even if there isn’t any bad blood, expect Agudelo, who’s scored three times in his last five games, to put in a performance similar to the one Joseph recorded as a Goat against his old club last August.

5. Is Chivas USA really as good as the Revolution are playing them up to be? No, they’re not. It’s a front in every sense. Yes, of course, they respect the Goats, and after disappointing games against D.C., they have every right to be on guard. But let’s be real: they’re a team in such utter disarray on so many levels, they make the the Kardashians look like the First Family. From top to bottom, this is a club that has successfully drafted the blueprint for how not to run an MLS club. When there’s not controversy in the technical area, there’s controversy in the courts. Yes, the Revolution may have been fibbing when the extolled the strength of D.C. United. Heck, at least D.C. still had their head coach, even if many other things in the Nation’s Capital still remain unsettled. When it comes to the Goats, there really is no reason why the Revolution shouldn’t dispose of them in the same fashion as they did to their StubHub Center roomies earlier this month. Anything less should only call into question what kind of Revolution club we’ve been watching this season.

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