New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: Revolution vs. Toronto FC


Diego Fagundez tried to level Sunday’s game in stoppage time on a volley inside the area, but his shot rattled off the post. (Photo: Kari Heistad/

Given the tsunami of rumors that have flooded the feeds of local soccer fans across the region, it almost feels as if last weekend’s game took place months ago. A game that pitted an opponent we have to rack our brains hard to remember and at a place that might as well have been on an exotic island in the South Pacific. And the result? Somebody scored…we think.

Kidding! Kidding! We didn’t really forget that the Revolution played Toronto at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, and lost 1-0 on a goal second minute scored by Luis “El Lobo” Fangoso, er, Matias Laba. Fewf, that was a close one.

But back to something everyone loves: Rumors. Whether you admit it or not, everyone enjoys a good, juicy rumor. And when it comes to soccer rumors, well, they are the golden standard of speculation.

At the center of the Revolution rumor mill are Juan Agudelo, Saer Sene, Charlie Davies and Louis Saha. That’s a pair of talented goalscorers, a local kid looking to make a comeback, and an EPL-tested veteran who’s on the wrong side of 30. By the one thing they all have in common are that they’ve all performed well enough – some more recently than others- to warrant their names cropping up in foreign newspapers and French-speaking social media forums.

Thousands of words could be easily spent on the speculation surrounding each player, how good a fit they’d be in New England, how their departures would affect the Revolution, their attitudes toward turf, or what their addition or subtraction would mean for the Revolution’s playoff ambitions this year. Thousands upon thousands of words all to say this: no one with a blog, website or overactive twitter feed really knows. We’re all just throwing darts at the board.

But what we do have a pretty good handle on is this: Whatever move or moves the Revolution make must be done with both this year and next year in mind. If they add a striker, it must be a striker who’ll not only contribute this year, but stick around and score next year, as well. If they add a midfielder, that midfielder must improve their poor starts and keep doing so next year. Why? Because Agudelo and Sene may not be around next year, and Kalifa Cisse has already been shown the door.

Anyway…how about that that game on Sunday? What did we learn from a game that’s long since been buried in so many of our minds?

1. Juan Toja still has something to contribute to this team. Admit it: when you saw the starting XI on Twitter or heard it over the PA system at Gillette, seeing/hearing Juan Toja’s name instead of Kelyn Rowe’s was probably a bit of a surprise. As in the kind of surprise you experience when you see bright orange ticket on your parked car. As in not a good kind of surprise. But Toja’s first half performance was a revelation – and a positive one, at that. He proved he belonged on the pitch by playing smart passes ahead, pushing forward into the attack and avoiding clumsy mistakes. For 45 minutes, Toja looked like a legitimate $300K player. Well, almost. Clearly, Heaps still believes in his creative Colombian midfielder, and Toja rewarded his coach’s belief with an impressive showing on Sunday.

2. Sunday’s game was a reminder that the set pieces have to be stronger when teams like Toronto bunker in. Death, taxes and Revolution’s struggles on set pieces. They are three constants in life for area soccer fans, the latter since Steve Ralston hung up his boots, at least. Incredibly, weeks had passed since the issue was touch, thanks to Toja’s free kick goal in Colorado and Jose Goncalves game-winner three days later in Columbus. But just when you think the Revolution are out of the woods, they run into a club like Toronto who do everything they can to introduce negative soccer on any given night. With Laba’s second half goal emboldening them, Toronto dropped numbers back and successfully stifled the Revolution on the run of play. Sure, the Revolution had chances to equalize late. But the best way to beat a team keen to park the bus is to pick them apart via the set piece.

3. Andrew Farrell played one of his best games as a pro. It’s been a bit of a funny season for the first overall pick. He made an impressive debut in Chicago, and has pieced together some strong performances. Yet, he’s still a rookie, and sometimes we are reminded of that whenever he crosses a long diagonal ball beyond the far touchline. Or when he cuts inside and coughs up the ball to the opposition. Or when he gets exposed by a savvy striker. But on Sunday, Farrell put together an impressive piece of work. He was heavily involved at both ends of the pitch, and strung together a team-high 58 successful passes. And who else has but Farrell had the audacity to attempt a bicycle kick cross – a bicycle kick cross – that nearly earned him an assist had Richard Eckersley not cleared Diego Fagundez’s shot off the line. While a former Revolution number two filled the headlines over the weekend, their current number two nearly put together an incredible performance.

4. Sometimes, all it takes is a single mistake to come away empty-handed. Soccer is a cruel game. On occasion, it is the cruelest of all games. And we were reminded of that on Sunday. Despite an otherwise sound game, the Revolution were severely punished for one mistake, albeit an avoidable one. At the time, few would’ve believed that when Laba pick-pocketed Jose Goncalves in the midfield and scored the Revolution wouldn’t find a way to come back. In fact they could’ve – and should’ve – cashed in on the opportunities they found in the first half. But, as noted above, soccer can be a fickle witch, and that witch was certainly laughing at the Revolution when Eckersley and Ashtone Morgan both cleared shots off the line. After the game, the players said it’s a game they have to forget quickly. And who could blame?

5. As promising a season as Scott Caldwell is having, the Revolution would be wise to add another defensive midfielder. The 22-year-old rookie put together a decent performance on Sunday. Decent, but not great. He completed 79 percent of his passes, and helped the attack’s width with his remarkable vision and awareness. But similar to what happened to Clyde Simms in D.C., Toronto, albeit in different fashion grabbed the bull by the horns early held on to win. True, it wasn’t Caldwell who dumped the ball to Laba. And credit must be given to the rookie for putting himself in position to dismantle Laba’s initial effort on the goalscoring sequence. But the Revolution need to have a stronger, more imposing presence at the six spot if they want to improve their first half form.


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