New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: #NEvCLB

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

The biggest storyline surrounding Saturday’s Revolution-Crew match was, without question, the 2015 debut of Jermaine Jones. But there was something much more compelling taking place at Gillette Stadium while the prized midfielder was roaming the pitch.

Among the 13,092 in attendance for Saturday’s match was none other than former Revolution captain Joey Franchino. Like many who’ve returned to the stadium following the end of their playing days, Franchino was afforded tickets in a high-end luxury box. He had a better idea.

Instead of watching the match from a comfortable perch, the former skipper made his way down to the Fort, where he was immediately embraced by many of the club’s most passionate supporters. He posed for selfies, cheered and sang, and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with hundreds of hearty souls for the entire 90.

It was a beautiful moment, really. Franchino had been eight years removed from his last match in a Revolution uniform, and while he fought through his share of personal demons toward the end of his career, he was warmly welcomed back with open arms and enthusiastic cheers.

While many former players have subsequently returned to Gillette Stadium to take in a Revolution game, Franchino may have been the first to join the crowd in the Fort. And by doing so, he and the Revolution faithful who welcomed him back reminded all of us of what a club is supposed to be: a place where old connections are never severed, but rather, strengthened over the course of time.

The only thing that could’ve made it better? A win, which unfortunately for everyone in the Fort, wasn’t in the cards on Saturday. So let’s take at what we gleaned from the scoreless draw.

1. The offense may need another game or two to get used to Jermaine Jones. After missing the first five games of the season, the Revolution were certainly anxious to get back their prized midfielder. And who could blame them? Last year, the squad played with a noticeable swagger shortly after the infamous blind draw, and that confidence translated to wins, pure and simple. On Saturday? Not so much. Jones was rusty, with that early looping ball to Lee Nguyen that looped a little too long serving as exhibit A. It’s worth remembering, though, that Jones’ Revolution debut came in a 3-0 win at Toronto, a game that was effectively decided when he came on in the second half. The following week, he inadvertently helped give Sporting Kansas City an early lead on a Soony Saad goal. Not long after, though, he fired a 40-yard assist to Teal Bunbury, and the rest was history. Moral of the story: There may be a few more hiccups before Jones’ influence is truly felt. But once they’re gone, they should be gone for good.

2. Chris Tierney’s absence was impossible to overlook. A left ankle sprain kept Tierney from seeing the pitch on Saturday, and it didn’t take long for us to witness the impact of his absence. Say what you will about the windy conditions, but without the fullback on the field, the Revolution’s switches were slow, and as a result, they failed to pull apart a tired Crew defense. The set pieces weren’t amazing, either, as Tierney’s precise left foot was sorely missed on corner kicks. While Kevin Alston was no slouch in Tierney’s place – he was named Revolution Man of the Match by – the fact is that the Revolution offense was far too predictable without their top-choice left back. And for a team whose bread and butter is hitting quickly on the counter, and capitalizing on set pieces, there simply was no replacement for what Tierney consistently brings to the table.

3. Don’t look now, but the center-back pairing is starting to come together. After giving up five goals in their first two games, and enduring plenty of criticism, the Jose Goncalves-Andrew Farrell partnership looks like it’s starting to come together. Since that rough start, the duo hasn’t conceded a single goal from the run of play. Pitted against a Crew selection that had averaged 17.3 shots per game thus year, they allowed only eight attempts on Saturday. What’s more: they’re doing it with different faces around them, as Tierney and Alston have both missed action during the center back duo’s recent run of success. It’s just as Heaps predicted: they just needed time. And you know what? The amount of time needed to forge that partnership may not have been as long as many of us originally believed.

4. Kelyn Rowe’s seen better days. You may want to skip past the following numbers: 58 minutes, 16 touches, 50 percent passing accuracy, and only a single shot to speak of. Clearly, the film from Saturday’s match won’t be rushed to Jurgen Klinsmann anytime soon. Yes, the wind may have been a factor. During the first half, no one in a Revolution uniform put together a sparkling performance. And with Jones and Bunbury still wiping away the cobwebs, Rowe seemed to struggle to get on the same page with the talented duo, even though his work on defense never wavered. Plus, with Tierney on the sidelines, he the opportunities for him to get on the end of a cross simply weren’t there. All in all, it simply wasn’t his afternoon on Saturday.

5. Putting Bunbury on the right aided the defensive effort, but it did little to strengthen the attack.
After watching his squad fail to score in front of the home crowd, Heaps explained that he went with Bunbury on the right, and Agudelo in the center because he was concerned about the speed and savvy of Crew fullbacks Hernan Grana and Chris Klute, both of whom are never shy to get past the halfway line. While the approach worked to perfection – the Crew failed to register a single shot on goal – it didn’t do the attack many favors. Yes, Bunbury is a dynamic talent and tireless worker, but without the one-two punch of Agudelo and Davies, the offense, which was already missing something without Tierney available, failed to truly test the Crew back four.

Brilliant readers: What else did we find out from Saturday’s contest? Tell us your “6th Thing We Learned” in the comments section.


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