New England Soccer Today

Five Questions: #NEvCLB

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Let’s be honest: there’s really only one question going into Saturday’s Revolution-Crew contest.

There’s no denying what the biggest unknown going into this week’s contest is. It’s the only one that Revolution fans, followers and perhaps a few hate-watchers are concerned with.

No, we’re not talking about the inspiration behind Kelyn Rowe’s manbun. Nope, we’re not racking our brains about Charlie Davies’ next goal dance, either. Well, at least not many of us. Jerry Bengtson? Remember him? Nope, that’s not it either.

The question, of course, pertains to certain Revolution midfielder who’s got more ink than Sharpie factory. A certain alliteratively named U.S. International with a penchant for yellow (or red, when the occasion calls for it). A man who single-handedly gave the Revolution instant swagger late last summer.

So without further ado, let’s go in studs-first on the question of the hour…along with four more, just for kicks. And consistency. After all, we don’t call it “Five Questions” just because.

1. Is Jermaine Jones on the verge of making his long-awaited 2015 debut? Ever since that ominous Instagram post about an operation back in February, Revolution fans have clamored for his return. Yes, the pics of the blacked-out Benz and the new tat were pretty epic in their own right. But after awhile, it was time to get down to business. After finally participating in full training last week, and presumably getting through another week without a setback, it appears Jones is ready to go for Saturday. Against the Crew. Against Tony Tchani, who wasn’t afraid to send a few verbal jabs the last time these teams met. While Jones has probably long forgotten that exchange, you have to wonder: is there a better foe for the U.S. International to face in his return?

2. Who’ll be on the right side? Teal Bunbury is finally healthy, and ready to resume his duties on the right. There’s just one problem: Juan Agudelo. And for his part, Agudelo hasn’t done a single thing to warrant the hook. Not only did he open his account last week in Colorado, but he was a tour de force in every other aspect of the match, including defense. Plus, there’s the whole interchanging he and Charlie Davies often do to throw opposing backlines for a loop. Then again, you never know: Jay Heaps has never been shy to tweak the lineup week-to-week maximize individual matchups. And given how Michael Parkhurst will be back in town, Heaps may opt to start Agudelo up top, put Bunbury on the right, and save Davies for the later stages.

3. Is Daigo Kobayashi ready to return? It doesn’t look like it at this juncture. While the Japanese midfielder has been a tremendous asset during Jones’ absence, Andy Dorman drew plenty of praise from the coaching staff and colleagues for his performance in Colorado. Combine that with the nature of Kobayashi’s injury (hamstring strain), and it seems all but a virtual certainty that he won’t be in the lineup. However, that doesn’t mean we won’t see him at some juncture. If it turns out that Jones isn’t ready to go, and Kobayashi’s sufficiently healed, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him come on after the hour, ready to string a few passes together.

4. Will Saturday’s match take on the appearance of last year’s Conference semifinal? As much as the Crew may be gunning for some measure of revenge following last year’s postseason ousting, the Revolution have no such motivations. To them, this is just another early season match, the stakes no different than they were last week, two weeks ago, three weeks ago, or any other time during this young season. To think otherwise is to believe that Jurgen Klinsmann is actually a richly-paid UEFA op whose sole purpose is to destroy American soccer. Here’s why: it’s Apr. 11. The last time a meaningful MLS match occurred on Apr. 11? Never. So while it’s nice to think of Saturday’s match as a high-stakes, edgier contest ahead, there’s just no way it could live up to anything we saw last fall.

5. How many saves is Bobby Shuttleworth going to need to make? The Revolution shot-stopper is averaging 3.2 saves per game, which doesn’t sound like very many at glance. But ask anyone who’s paid close attention to this team, and they’ll tell you: the degree of difficulty on those saves has been consistently set at expert level. Consider that the Rapids probably should’ve scored four goals last week had it not been for Shuttleworth’s heroics (and some friendly goalposts – those always help). Oh, and did we mention that the Crew currently fire a league-best 17.3 shots per game? Saturday probably going to be a busy day at the office for Shuttleworth, so we’re predicting at least five stops for the Revolution keeper. And if the last five weeks have been any indication, the Revolution are going to need him to be on top of his game once again.

YOUR TURN: What other question(s) surround the Revs going into Saturday’s match?

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