New England Soccer Today

Five Questions: #NYCvNE

Photo credit: Brandon Bleek/Prost Amerika

Photo credit: Brandon Bleek/Prost Amerika

There’s a saying in the world of hip-hop that it’s not about the come up, it’s about the come back. And that phrase, most recently invoked (at least in the mainstream) by Lil Wayne, certainly applies to the Revolution on Sunday.

Yes, last Sunday’s 3-0 defeat wasn’t the kind of start that the locals were looking for this year. But then again, keeping pace with Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins without Jermaine Jones, Lee Nguyen and Charlie Davies at your disposal is like bringing a knife to a gunfight, or a pen to a test.

This week, though, the Revolution get Nguyen back, but won’t have Teal Bunbury. Not exactly addition by subtraction. Regardless, they have a job to do. And that job is to keep a reprisal of last weekend from unfolding and, with enough skill or luck (or both), get the result.

But before the Revolution march onto the Yankee Stadium diamond, er, pitch, let’s look at a few questions surrounding the locals going into it.

1. How effective will Lee Nguyen be? Nguyen’s sharpness will likely be the biggest indicator of how potent the Revolution are in the final third. Last week, they outpassed the Sounders in the attacking end by a ratio of nearly 3:2, but only mustered one measly (yet magnificent) shot on frame. A healthy Nguyen should change that, and not just because of his penchant for the Vine-worthy strike. As good as he is from distance, Nguyen can play as good a through ball as anyone in a navy blue kit. Even if his workrate isn’t what we’re used to seeing, Nguyen’s vision and instinct should bolster an attack that, last week, had fewer ideas than a 4pm meeting.

2. Who will man the right side with Teal Bunbury out? Let’s run down the list candidates. Steve Neumann manned the spot during the penultimate regular season match last season, but it’s unlikely he’ll get the start. Kelyn Rowe filled in during the season finale, but he’ll probably stay central or slide to the left. Ditto for Diego Fagundez. Sean Okoli could also fill the void in a pinch, just as the last two issues of Cat Fancy can be used as shin guards if you forget the real ones at home. That leaves us with Juan Agudelo and Charlie Davies, strikers by trade, wingers by necessity. Davies told earlier this week that he hasn’t yet had any discussions with Jay Heaps about going back to the right, so that leaves Agudelo as the strongest possibility to take over for Bunbury out wide. Or Jeremy Hall (we kid…mostly).

3. Can Andrew Farrell improve his form? He has to be if the Revolution stand any chance of getting the result. To be fair, growing pains are to be expected, even this early in the year. Center back is an entirely different animal than right back, as the third-year defender has shown us on many occasions this winter. But the bike-riding defender (see pic at top of page) isn’t completely to blame. Jose Goncalves must do his part to guide his partner. The communication must be better, and as the captain (as well as the, you know, the natural center back), the burden falls primarily on his shoulders. We’ve seen Farrell play a solid brand of defense in the middle before (see: last season). He can do it. And with the nightmare at CenturyLink Field over, he’ll get the chance to remind us of that on Sunday.

4. Is Diego Fagundez primed for a big game? The matchup that awaits him is a heck of a lot more favorable to him than the one seen in Seattle. With no Chad Marshall or Brad Evans to contend with, Fagundez could find the same form that made him a dynamo during the preseason. The Jason Hernandez and Chris Wingert center back combo all but rolled out the red carpet for Orlando City’s attack during the first half of last week’s 1-1 draw, a development that should have Fagundez salivating. Of course, he’ll need some help. He’ll need to get on the same page with Agudelo and, possibly, Davies early. He’ll need to establish a rhythm with Rowe, as well. If all these things fall into place early, Fagundez’s confidence will only grow. And we all know what Fagundez can do when he’s playing with swagger.

5. What must the Revolution do to improve their chances? For starters, that high line didn’t exactly do wonders for them in Seattle, a point that Chris Tierney referenced earlier this week. Playing a cavalier style in the rear with a converted center back in the middle for it is the soccer equivalent of setting off fireworks near an oxygen tank, especially with David Villa lurking near the net/right field foul line. On the attacking end, repetition is not necessarily a recipe for success. If the long balls aren’t working, try something else. Like playing a little north and south, in addition to the east and west. With Nguyen back, and Davies likely to return as well, the attack shouldn’t get stale as fast this week.

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