New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: #NYCvNE

Photo credit: New England Revolution

Photo credit: New England Revolution

We’ve seen this movie before. The Revolution start the season as if they’re eyeing the first overall pick the following winter. And although they have nothing to blame but themselves for yet another poor break out of the gate, the fact is the MLS schedule makers aren’t doing them any favors.

This season will mark the fourth-straight year in which the locals have played their first two games on the road. In the aggregate of those eight games, the Revolution have scored one goal, conceded 15, and finished two of them with 10 men. To go back to those goal counts: Yes, your math is correct. That’s a negative-14 goal differential.

This year, the challenge they’ve faced is probably the toughest to date. The Revolution started the season faced against the defending Supporters’ Shield winners at one of the most hostile environments in the country. Oh, and they had to do it without two of their best players. The following week, the league puts them in front of 43,000+ that were chanting “Who’s your daddy?” at the end.

The Revolution’s first two regular season games during Jay Heaps’ coaching tenure.

Date Opponent Site Score
3/10/2012 Earthquakes Buck Shaw Stadium 0-1
3/17/2012 Sporting KC Sporting Park 0-3*
3/9/2013 Fire Toyota Park 1-0
3/16/2013 Union PPL Park 0-1
3/8/2014 Dynamo BBVA Compass Stadium 0-4
3/15/2014 Union PPL Park 0-1
3/8/2015 Sounders CenturyLink Field 0-3
3/15/2015 NYC FC Yankee Stadium 0-2*

*Revolution finished shorthanded due to a red card

Obviously, the players and coaches must own up to their mistakes, and there have been plenty of them. But it’s pure fantasy to believe that the Revolution haven’t been hurt by those who’ve put the regular season schedule together over the four years.

Now that those dreaded first two road games are out of the way, let’s get to the five things were learned from Sunday’s match in the Bronx.

1. Andrew Farrell continues to look like the left shark from Katy Perry’s Super Bowl performance. There was a hope – a hope that was expressed in last week’s Five Things, and only in last week’s Five Things – that the third-year defender would turn it around at Yankee Stadium following the debacle at CenturyLink Field. That the baptism by fire administered by Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey should have prepared him for David Villa and Co. the following week. That things would get better. And maybe they will. Eventually. However, Farrell did not look better at Yankee Stadium. Instead of rebounding from that First Kick performance, the struggles only continued – and at times, worsened.  Not only was he slow to react on a handful of Villa’s chances, but he gave away possession (57.5 percent passing accuracy) like the Easter Bunny hands out Cadbury Eggs at the mall. And it looks like he may find himself even more generous on Saturday. With Goncalves suspended, Farrell will be partnered with either Darrius Barnes or London Woodberry, neither of whom he’s ever played alongside during a regular season match.

2. The Revolution’s lack of defensive depth came into focus, and it was not pretty. Let’s be honest: the Revolution were like a guy wearing a meat suit in a lion cage by carrying six open roster spots to open the season. That was especially true considering the club only had two center backs on the roster with any MLS experience (Goncalves and Darrius Barnes). After the skipper was dismissed from Sunday’s match, Andy Dorman – who’s never played in the rear, nevermind at center back – had to drop back with Barnes spelling Kevin Alston on the left. And it was absolute chaos. How New York City didn’t put a five spot on the Revolution during the final 20 minutes was a miracle. Whoever Heaps decides to use to fill the spot opposite of Farrell on Saturday, there’s really no excuse for the dearth of defensive reinforcements on the roster nearly two months removed from the start of preseason camp.

3. The finishing is off, but don’t worry: like Jurassic World, it’ll be here before you know it. Heaps mentioned that his club was the most dangerous between the 20th and 45th minutes, and that assertion certainly passed the eyeball test. During that span, Diego Fagundez, Kelyn Rowe, Juan Agudelo and Lee Nguyen each had at least one good chance to get on the scoresheet. Whether it was timing or finishing, the players that the Revolution have counted on to steer their offense all fell short in Week 2. But then again, this isn’t a new development (see preamble and chart above). Historically, the offense struggles out of the gate, and that’s certainly the case again this year. Obviously, the absence of Jones, the injury to Teal Bunbury, and a not-quite 100 percent fit Lee Nguyen haven’t helped matters. Once everyone is healthy, though, it’ll be a different story. You can set your watches to it.

4. The Revolution are still using dial-up to make in-game adjustments. Last week, Charlie Davies mentioned that the attack was far too slow in making adjustments in Seattle, and by the time they did, it was too late. On Sunday, the Revolution weren’t strong to start, but eventually found an attacking rhythm after David Villa’s goal. By all accounts, it looked like they were ready to carry that momentum into the second half and score. There was just one problem: New York City countered with heavy pressure when the Revolution were in possession, and the locals couldn’t find solve it. And when Goncalves was sent off 22 minutes after the break, well, it was simply too late to anything from there. Much like the offense, this will improve as the season progresses, and back-to-back home games should help it along.

5. Bobby Shuttleworth put in a performance that would make that ginger kid from Big Green proud. Remember when the defensive credo down the stretch last year was “bend but don’t break?” Well, lost in that storyline was the fact that Shuttleworth was the primary reason why the defense wasn’t completely broken. During the second leg of the Conference Semis, the eighth-year keeper made a collection of saves to keep the Crew from climbing back. Ditto for the second leg of the Conference Finals, a match that the Red Bulls nearly stole had it not been for Shuttleworth’s heroics, which took a backseat to Charlie Davies’ brace. So it wasn’t surprising to see the Revolution keeper bail out his backline time after time again on Sunday. For all the talk about the loss of A.J. Soares during the offseason, the locals would be lost without Shuttleworth between the sticks.


  1. Tom

    March 18, 2015 at 11:30 am

    Another thing it would be good to learn. What exact adjustments did Kreis and Heaps make that turned the second half into such a disaster. Mr. Sewall? Anyone?

    • Brian O'Connell

      March 19, 2015 at 7:57 pm

      Tom, I’m no expert by any means, but Tierney said is that NYC FC started to press the Revs harder in the second half. Heaps mentioned they also started to maul Agudelo even more. From my perspective, the Revs probably could’ve weathered that pressure eventually and possibly find a break through. But after the JoGo red card, it was game over. Khiry Shelton didn’t score, but his introduction effectively tipped the scales in NYC FC’s after he blazed right by JoGo.

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