New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: #COLvNE

Photo credit: New England Revolution

Photo credit: New England Revolution

Maybe it was the red jerseys. Or the friendly goalposts. Or even some decidedly anti-hometown refereeing decisions. Whatever it was, the Revolution were finally able to accomplish something they hadn’t done since Jay Heaps featured at center back: win in Colorado.

Yes, nearly 13 years have passed in between Revolution victories in the Centennial state. Since then, we’ve seen four World Cups come and go, witnessed the league expand from 10 to 20 teams, and even saw one club open and shut entirely.

Now that the woes in the Rocky Mountains are over, let’s take a look at the match that finally allowed a tired storyline to meet its maker, and see what we gleamed from it.

1. The Revolution can play the possession game after all. Conventional wisdom dictates that a team unaccustomed to playing at elevation should sit back and play for the counter. Naturally, Jay Heaps did the opposite. Knowing that Colorado liked to get numbers behind the ball, Heaps told his players to take advantage of the space afforded to them. By doing so, the Revolution were able to accomplish two things: 1. conserve energy early and, 2. gauge the matchups, especially in the rear. Granted, the approach didn’t have a long shelf-life; by the second half, the Revolution were comfortable to drop back and protect the lead. And that’s just fine, because when you have a two-goal lead in Colorado, even Heaps knows there’s a fine line between innovation and ignorance.

2. Juan Agudelo’s technique, though. Raise your hand if you immediately thought back to Agudelo’s amazing chip against Chicago after watching him tap it over the reach of Clint Irwin on Saturday. If you didn’t, or don’t quite remember it, do yourself a favor and find it on YouTube, because the class that Agudelo has on both shots is exquisite. The fact that he was able to do so can only mean one thing: that Swagudelo is back. And that’s a very good thing for the Revolution. With Agudelo in form, opposing defenses have to start picking their poisons: focus on the speedy Davies, or the dynamic Agudelo? Oh, and by the way, Jermaine Jones still has yet to make his 2015 debut, and once he does, it stands to reason that Agudelo will only become even more dangerous. Dear Opposing Defenses: Good luck. Sincerely, the New England Revolution.

3. The attack was missing something without Daigo Kobayashi on the pitch. While Agudelo and Davies both looked dangerous, the attack seemed to stumble at times in the middle of the park. It’s easy to see why: the Revolution were missing one of the league’s most accurate passers with Kobayashi sidelined due to a hamstring strain. The locals’ lack of smoothness in the middle isn’t a knock on Andy Dorman, mind you. However, when you’re trying to replicate the contributions of a guy who completes better than 90 percent of his passes, it’s going to be noticeable, and it was. Although Scott Caldwell was able to make up for some of Kobayashi’s absence by connecting on nearly 83 percent of his passes, you have to wonder how many more opportunities or shots the Revolution could’ve collected with the Japanese midfielder on the field.

4. Bobby Shuttleworth continued to build his case for team MVP. The scoreline may not suggest it, but there was a clear point in Saturday’s contest in which the Rapids could’ve very well turned the tables. In the 42nd minute, Juan Ramirez blazed down the left and found a completely unmarked Dillon Powers centrally, with only Shuttleworth to beat. But the Revolution goalkeeper stood stout, and put his left mitt right in the path of Powers’ shot. Had Powers scored, the match would’ve gone into halftime 1-1, and given the way the Rapids came out in the second half, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see them take the lead at some point. Add to the fact that the Revolution were outshot 17-9, it’s not a stretch to say that the win wouldn’t have been possible without Shuttleworth’s quick reflexes.

5. You’ll never see another Revolution match with as many favorable breaks as the one we witnessed on Saturday. Not to take anything away from Agudelo’s brilliance, or Shuttleworth’s skill, or Pablo Mastroeni’s…bowtie (you thought we were going to say mustache, didn’t you?) but let’s be honest: the Revolution benefited from no fewer than five major breaks. The first was Jared Watts’ contact with Davies inside the area, a play in which the Revolution striker sure didn’t seem interested in staying on his feet. Despite that, Fotis Bozakos pointed the spot, and Nguyen scored. Five minutes later, Dominique Badji hit the post. Seconds after that, the Revolution were essentially handed a rabbit’s foot by Bozakos when he declined to award the Rapids a penalty after Juan Ramirez was cut down inside the box because – get this – Gabby Torres was offside after the fact. Then, in the 74th minute, it was Ramirez’s turn to hit the post. Five minutes later, Bobby Burling made it three’s company when his effort crashed off the woodwork. Yes, the Revolution deserved maximum points, but you can’t say their cause wasn’t helped by two very favorable decisions, as well as some very fortunate bounces.


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