New England Soccer Today

Five Questions: Revolution at Crew


Ryan Guy will be called upon to help the attack on Saturday if Saer Sene isn’t healthy enough to get the start against the Crew. (Photo: Kari Heistad/

Their sub-.500 record may not indicate it, but the Revolution currently find themselves in a surprisingly unfamiliar position going into Saturday’s contest: losers of two straight. Yes, the same sixth-place Revolution who were last north of the red line in March, are on a bona fide losing streak for the first time this season.

Now, we all know that back-to-back losses isn’t exactly a national crisis. Or regional crisis, for that matter. It’s certainly not a season-ending, soul-crushing ordeal. It may seem like it because it’s the second half, and well, the club’s second half struggles have been well-documented over the years. But let’s not get all Teen Mom dramatic here. Heck, even the first place Red Bulls lost two straight a few weeks ago.

But the Revolution have to be careful. They have to be careful that two losses don’t turn into three, and that three doesn’t morph itself into four, and that four doesn’t pave the way for another ten-game catastrophe. Hey, we’ve seen it happen before.

Granted, it’s still much, much too early to be thinking that far ahead. It’s still July. There’s still plenty of time to work with. Right now, the sole objective is getting three points from the Crew, a team that needed an 11th minute Pa-Modou Kah red card against Portland to help snap a three-game slide. OK, so the Revolution haven’t won in the Ohio capital since Jeff Larentowicz’s free kick blast ushered the New England to its last postseason appearance. And no, Zak Boggs isn’t walking through those doors. But this is a very winnable game, and the Revolution should approach it like that.

Like the Revolution, the Crew have struggled to find its consistency. In a sense, they’re very much like the Revolution: a club with a lot of talent, a club with a nice mixture of youth and experience, but can’t seem to put enough points together to lift themselves out of the bottom half of the table.

If the Revolution want to truly prove to themselves and to its loyal supporters that the postseason isn’t a pipe dream this season, they need to win this game. A win, not a draw. One point from their three-games-in-eight-days extravaganza isn’t good enough.

The local XI have a chance to end their streak at two, which again, isn’t terrible. But if it becomes three, and they slide into seventh place after Edvin Jurosevic blows his whistle thrice, you can start hitting the panic button.

You never need to hit the panic button before, during or after reading through our usual set of questions. At least we hope you don’t.

1. Will we see Stephen McCarthy back on the field? You never can really tell when it comes to head injuries, and McCarthy has endured more than his fair share of them over the past 12 months. On Wednesday, Deshorn Brown’s elbow sliced open a considerable gash behind the center back’s ear, making McCarthy suffer through the indignation having to wear the spare number 99 jersey for the closing moments of the first half, thanks to his bloodied number 15. As if McCarthy’s luck wasn’t bad enough, his night ended early after he apparently took a ball the face sometime around the 55th minute. The good news is that McCarthy tweeted shortly after the game that he was OK, and we later learned that he didn’t suffer a concussion. But with only four days to recover from two jarring blows above the shoulders, the best course of action may be to keep the center back on the bench on Saturday.

2. Can the Revolution improve their passing and possession stats after an awful showing in Colorado? They sure can. They’ve shown they can move the ball effectively in the past, and against better clubs than Columbus. Wednesday night was probably one of the worst performances of the season, and it wasn’t all that surprising given the altitude, heat and questionable personnel management. Heck, many clubs would struggle with possession under those circumstances. Of course, that isn’t to give them a free pass for a poor effort. No, if they want a free pass, the Revolution have to step up the energy and discipline against the Crew. They can’t allow a club that hasn’t been particularly great at home to start dictating the game early. Jose Goncalves recently said that the guys were understandably tired following their game in Colorado. Well, what better way to rest the legs than by holding the ball instead of chasing it around like a pack of paparazzi hot on the tracks of Justin Bieber?

3. What lineup changes does Jay Heaps make? You get the sense that if Heaps had his way, he’d revamp the entire lineup after what went down at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Wednesday. Aside from Juan Toja’s free kick and Jerry Bengtson’s acrobatic pirouette in front of it, almost nothing went right for the Revolution. But Heaps is a rational person, and injuries to a handful of regulars prevent that from actually happening. That said, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Dimitry Imbongo start over Bengtson for performance reasons, A.J. Soares over McCarthy for cautionary reasons, and Kelyn Rowe over Toja for, well, practical reasons. True, Saturday’s contest probably won’t put the Revolution in the same situation that unfolded in the Rockies earlier this week. But they can’t afford another Colorado-esque debacle in Columbus.

4. Did Jerry Bengtson do enough against the Rapids to earn another start? No. Just no. Of course, whether he sees his name on the lineup sheet again is another thing entirely. Thanks to injuries to Juan Agudelo and Saer Sene, and Dimitry Imbongo’s temper, the Honduran forward is the beneficiary of a sudden depth crisis up top. Bengtson may not deserve all the criticism he’s received this season and it’s by and large because of the investment the Revolution made in him. But, to be fair, some of it is warranted. He’s struggled to get on the same page with his midfielders, he’s fluffed Jose Moreno-sized opportunities in front of frame, and all of this is to say nothing of the fact that he’s a striker who doesn’t score goals. Think about that for a second. Plus, there’s been little evidence to suggest that he’s ready to tear it up anytime soon. Let’s face it: once Agudelo’s healthy, it seems likely that Bengtson will be handed a one-way ticket to Honduras.

5. What the do the Revolution need to do to keep the Crew off the scoreboard? Well, avoiding the own goal would be a good start. Stuff like that happens during a long season, though. And as we saw with Goncalves’ rogue goal, it happens to the best of them. But aside from that, the Revolution have to be particularly cautious on set pieces, where Federico Higuain has documented success, especially against the Revolution. They might also want to keep tabs on Dominic Oduro, the type of speedy forward the Revolution back line has struggled against this season. And while they won’t have to worry about Jairo Arrieta, they will need to be mindful of Bernardo Anor, a creative player who won’t be afraid to test a goalkeeper from distance. Yes, Anor takes those kinds of shots. And so does Higuain. Beware, Bobby Shuttleworth.

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