New England Soccer Today

Five Questions: #NEvSJ

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

The goals may be non-existent at this point, but things are finally getting back to normal for the Revolution.

On Thursday, Jermaine Jones returned to Foxborough following weeks of rehab and recovery from his sports hernia surgery early last month. The fact that he’s back is reason enough to believe that things are going to start resembling the way they were down the stretch last season.

But there’s more. Teal Bunbury’s back in training, and though Juan Agudelo may not have been the force he was during the preseason, his form should improve as he reacclimates to the offense. Meanwhile, Lee Nguyen’s gotten chances, suggesting that he’s not far off from finding the back of the net. And when Charlie Davies is around, you can’t help but like the vibe surrounding this squad.

A.J. Soares may not be walking through that door, even though he’s not old and gray, but with the squad Jay Heaps will have at disposal once everyone’s healthy, it could go from American Horror Story to Glee pretty fast.

With the opportunity to turn things back around knocking on the Revolution’s door, let’s get to this week’s set of questions.

1. Will the Revolution finally score the first goal of the season on Saturday? If this question sounds vaguely familiar, it’s probably because we (not to mention a plethora of Revolution supporters) asked this very same question last week. And we’ll ask it again, if need be, next week. Given how eerily similar this season has transpired compared to its predecessor, we’re predicting that the first Revolution goal will finally appear this weekend. As you probably remember, it was Victor Bernardez who lent a helping hand by opening the club’s account last year with an OG. This year, it’ll be scored in much less meme-worthy circumstances. You may recall that last week we said it’d be Diego Fagundez. We’ve subsequently consulted with the soccer gods (not to be confused with shady overseas gamblers), and we’ve reformed our prediction: it’ll be Juan Agudelo.

2. How will the defense perform with Jose Goncalves set to return? Props to Darrius Barnes to holding it down in the skipper’s spot last week. He was the highest-rated Revolution defender on the pitch according to OPTA, helped the club pitch its first shutout of the season, and gave the press plenty of writing material, which was sorely needed given the scoreline. But with Goncalves set to return from his suspension, it’ll be interesting to see how the backline performs. The harsh truth is that Revolution conceded five goals in their first two with Goncalves and Andrew Farrell paired. Granted, they went up against the likes of Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins and David Villa. This week, it’s Chris Wondolowski, who never met a garbage goal he didn’t at least flirt with. On the touchscreen, the defense should be better than with Goncalves back in the mix. Then again, the Revolution should have scored two goals last week.

3. Will we see more of the Juan Agudelo-Charlie Davies combo? Yes, though probably not until around the 60th minute or so, just like last week. At this point in time, there’s no need to rush Davies back to the lineup, especially with snow forecast at gametime. So starting him with Agudelo on the wing might be tad bit premature…not to mention somewhat counterproductive. Consider that Davies’ pace and energy has the greatest impact during the latter stages, when most defenses start to tire and lose focus. And when those backlines are already taxed due to the physical demands of marking Agudelo for 60 minutes? Cue the dramatic music for some dynamic and dangerous play during the final half hour.

4. Who’ll play right back? If the injury report is to be taken as gospel – which it shouldn’t be because this is MLS – it won’t be Alston. That leaves us three candidates: Jeremy Hall, Darrius Barnes and London Woodberry. We can probably rule out Woodbury since, well, he’s probably ticketed for Rochester (at some point). So that leaves us with Hall and Barnes, which kind of sounds like a country band. Hall filled the spot admirably last week with Barnes assigned to center back duty, but we all know what Barnes can do pretty much anywhere along the back four. Plus, he helps Jay Heaps “sleep better at night” (actual post-game quote!). When you positively affect your coach’s sleeping habits, that’s pretty much all the endorsement you need to return the field.

5. With snow predicted for Saturday’s match, how will the conditions affect the match? If you like your soccer sloppy, this match is probably for you. If you like goals, especially when they’re scored by Revolution players, this match is probably also for you. Here’s why: San Jose’s 71.4 percent passing accuracy is atrocious, the worst in the league. Slick conditions probably won’t help that stat. What they will help, at least theoretically, is the Revolution’s ability to exploit the channels and pockets that the Impact denied them of last week. Plus, with Goncalves back on the field, you are all but guaranteed to see some long ball action between he and Agudelo, who cannot hit the LIKE button enough whenever he sees a 40-yard ball headed his way. Combine these factors, along with the home crowd, and you’ve got a recipe for at least one goal, if not four goals, for the hosts on Saturday.

Leave a Reply