New England Soccer Today

Quick Hits: Revs Drop DDC Opener

Photo credit: New England Revolution

Photo credit: New England Revolution

It wasn’t the most enthralling display of soccer, but there was plenty to talk about in the wake of the Revolution’s 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake in their Desert Diamond Cup debut on Wednesday.

Here are a few things that caught our attention:

-The lineup. Jay Heaps certainly did his homework given the way he constructed his lineup on Wednesday. After going with a first-choice lineup during the club’s first two scrimmages, the fourth-year coach started a slew of reserves against Salt Lake.

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Tonight’s #NERevs Starting XI: Shuttleworth, Hall, Barnes, Woodberry, Smith, Fenelus, Rudy, Mulgrew, Fagundez, Okoli, Agudelo.

— NE Revolution (@NERevolution) February 19, 2015

Why did Heaps decide to go with his reserves early? The answer can probably be traced to what transpired during the club’s previous scrimmage against Salt Lake back on Jan. 31. In that match, Salt Lake coach Jeff Cassar waited until the second half to bring on his first-teamers, who faced a reserve and trialist-heavy Revolution selection during the final-45. Anticipating that Cessar would do the same – which is exactly what he did on Wednesday – Heaps waited until the second half to bring on many of his first-teamers.

-Trialist watch: Timi Mulgrew continues to make his case for an MLS contract after showing a strong work rate and a propensity to press forward. It’s obviously difficult to gauge a player’s strengths and weaknesses without the benefit of video, yet even though the Revolution’s first two scrimmages weren’t televised, the feeling in camp was that Mulgrew was a player to watch. The 22-year-old midfielder/forward certainly proved that on Wednesday when he pick-pocketed a Salt Lake defender and immediately tested Jeff Attinella midway through the first half, then came close to nodding a Chris Tierney cross through in the second half. Barring a sudden loss in form, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which Mulgrew doesn’t make the roster.

Third-round pick Marc Fenelus looked particularly comfortable on the dribble during the early going. After starting in the central midfield, he was moved to the right during the second half, though he didn’t see as many opportunities there.

London Woodbury didn’t do anything to hurt his case, but he didn’t strengthen it, either. One thing that does benefit him is the lack of defending depth.

Ditto for Tyler Rudy, who appeared to be an active and involved in the attack early. At this juncture, he projects to be, at best, a backup to Scott Caldwell.

Goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg didn’t see action for the third straight game. Another goalkeeper was added to the invite list – Tomas Gomez – but with Bobby Shuttleworth and Brad Knighton splitting the minutes, he’ll have to wait until Saturday, at the earliest, to make his preseason debut.

-The right back battle: Jeremy Hall got his third straight start at fullback, and played 45 minutes. Kevin Alston got his first minutes of preseason action when he spelled Hall for the second half. Interestingly, Alston played alongside a first-team backline that included Andrew Farrell, Jose Goncalves and Chris Tierney. Still, it appears that Hall is getting every chance to win the job.

-Calling all forwards: Players who saw time up, in chronological order – Juan Agudelo (40 minutes), Sean Okoli (15 minutes), Charlie Davies (35 minutes). Agudelo showed good hold up play, while Okoli looked inventive in and around the box. Davies endured some punishment from Salt Lake’s first-choice back four, but held up well.

-The Farrell-Goncalves central partnership: It’s still early, but it seemed evident that the new center back duo is still working out some of the expected kinks. Granted, they were pitted against the likes of Alvaro Saborio, Sebastian Jaime and Javier Morales, a trio that can make any central pairing earn their paycheck. Fortunately for the Revolution, Brad Knighton was sharp between the sticks and kept Salt Lake from capitalizing in the second half.

-What stood out the most: The sixth minute penalty conceded by the Revolution. Yes, Baldomero Toledo may have been in the building for this one, but that’s still no excuse for gift-wrapping an early lead to your opponent. The live stream didn’t kick into gear until Devon Sandoval was staring down the ball from the spot, but we later found out that Darrius Barnes took down John Stertzer in the box to give Sandoval the chance from the spot. Granted, results aren’t terribly important during the preseason, but Heaps couldn’t have been happy about the early deficit. 

-Other observations: Despite partaking in only one preseason training session since arriving from Uruguay U-20 camp, Diego Fagundez showed flashes during the first half…Teal Bunbury was the team’s attacking star during the second half, creating a couple of chances and making a bid for the equalizer right before the whistle…Daigo Kobayashi played underneath Davies in the second half with Lee Nguyen likely to be brought back slowly after picking up a knock during U.S. Men’s National Team Camp…Revolution Academy star Zach Herivaux came on during the late stages of the first half…Another Academy player – U-16 forward Justin Rennicks – also travelled with the club to Arizona, but did not see action on Wednesday…Donnie Smith was his usual preseason self during the first half, showcasing both speed and tenacity at the left back’s spot…


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