New England Soccer Today

Keeping Their Cards Close

Photo credit: New England Revolution

Photo credit: New England Revolution

Improvement is always the primary focus during the preseason, but the Revolution will also be careful to avoid revealing too much against the Seattle Sounders during Wednesday’s Desert Diamond Cup clash at Kino North Grandstand in Tucson, Ariz.

Wednesday’s clash comes 11 days before the squads meet for First Kick on Mar. 8 at CenturyLink Field. While the Revolution coach Jay Heaps will be looking to see more from his squad – especially in the rear – with the preseason nearing is conclusion, don’t expect him to tip his hand with Sigi Schmid stationed on the opposite touchline.

The Revolution enter the match days removed from a 1-1 draw to Colorado, while the Sounders are coming off a 3-2 loss to Sporting Kansas City.

The final group stage match of the Desert Diamond Cup will kick off at 8:00pm, and will be streamed live on

Here’s what to watch for during Wednesday’s First Kick preview:

1. Patching up the rear. No one will confuse Saturday’s contest against Colorado for a defensive clinic on the part of Revolution. Surprisingly, the culprits were some of the club’s steadiest defensive players, including Jose Goncalves, Andrew Farrell and, yes, even Scott Caldwell, who coughed up the ball at an alarming rate. With First Kick quickly approaching, the Revolution have to step up their defensive effort, especially in the rear. Granted the cohesion between Farrell and Goncalves will take time, but each struggled with positioning. Taking care of business on Wednesday against the Sounders, who boast one of the most prolific attacks in the league, would certainly ease a lot of fears about the state of the Revolution defense.

2. The Diego Fagundez-Juan Agudelo connection. It certainly hasn’t taken long for Fagundez and Agudelo to rediscover the chemistry that made the Revolution attack tick in 2013. During last week’s Desert Diamond Cup opener, the duo combined early before halftime, then hit paydirt when Fagundez scored on a pass from Agudelo in the 54th minute. Clearly, they haven’t missed a beat, as the Rapids found out first-hand during the second half. With more minutes on tap for the regulars – and at this point, Fagundez appears to be one of them – all eyes will be on the creative midfielder and physical forward, both of whom will be aiming to collaborate even more against Seattle.

3. Cutting down on the mistakes. The defensive effort wasn’t the only alarming item of Saturday’s draw. Though OPTA doesn’t publish preseason stats, all you needed was the naked eye to see how poorly the Revolution looked on the ball. Playing it out of the rear appeared to be a chore by halftime, and the introduction of substitutes didn’t help matters much, either. Yes, it was the first time the Revolution had played on short rest this winter. And while fitness isn’t at 100 percent just yet, their form has to be better.  After all, only two games remain on the preseason fixture list, and before we know it, First Kick will be here.

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