New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: #NEvNY

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/aduamaphotography.com

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/aduamaphotography.com

It’s fair to say that Saturday’s victory was no Rembrandt for the Revolution.

No, not at all between the giveaways, the chippiness, the botched opportunities or the late-game shoving match at the end. In many respects, it was the polar opposite of the Revolution’s 4-0 rout of Real Salt Lake – a game that truly showed the locals at the height of their powers.

Jay Heaps, who watched his squad out-foul Jesse Marsch’s 20-9, called it a classic hard-fought game. He called it the kind of game that he used to play against the likes of Chicago and D.C. back in the day. In many respects, he was right. Saturday’s match was filled with grit and verve, and for more than a few moments there, it felt like MLS 1.0 all over again (except for that million-dollar midfielder/center back wearing a Revolution uniform, of course).

Pretty it was not. But the Revolution couldn’t have cared less given the scoreline. It was the kind of victory that, in many respects, says a lot about a team’s character. Good teams win ugly games. Unless you are Bayern, in which case, all of your wins are beautiful. Either way, it still beat Mayweather-Pacquiao on pure entertainment value. And last we checked, no one had to cough up a bill to watch it on TV (or in person, for that matter).

Now that the tempers on both sides have simmered down, let’s take a look at the things we gleaned from Saturday’s game.

1. For offense, just add Charlie Davies. Remember when we thought that Davies’ days as the starting striker were numbered once Juan Agudelo signed on the dotted line? It’s safe to say things have changed since First Kick. After a calf knock kept him out of the XI during the first two weeks, Davies hasn’t just reclaimed his role: he’s taken hold of it, and won’t let go. Consider this nugget: the Revolution are 5-0-0 with a plus-9 goal differential. But it’s not just the scoring or the inventive celebrations that have made Davies a weekly favorite for the XI. Heaps called Davies “an emotional leader” after Saturday’s match, and it’s easy to see why. Davies is one of the most outgoing personalities in the locker room, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a player who’s more enthusiastic to wear the Revolution uniform. He may not be able to stay healthy for all 34 games, but when he is, Davies is a force to be reckoned with – and the Revolution’s opponents are finding that out the hard way.

2. Lee Nguyen does not appear to be in a good place. Last week, Nguyen was curiously absent from training, which came days after he was visibly irate after he was subbed off in the 80th minute of the 4-0 win over Salt Lake. Making matters worse, Nguyen was dropped from the XI for the first time in his Revolution career on Saturday. After the game, Heaps said that Nguyen’s absence was due to “private matters,” but reading between the lines, it seems as if the talented midfielder isn’t thrilled with his current contract. There’s little doubt that Nguyen outperformed his $180,000 salary last year, and it would stand to reason that he would ask for a raise. But when it comes to MLS contracts, which have built-in unilateral club options, it’s all about timing. In many respects, the worst time for a player to have a breakout year is right after he signs a new deal. It’ll be interesting to see how the situation plays itself out, but until it does, an unhappy Nguyen benefits no one at the moment.

3. Jay Heaps doesn’t look like he’s in a rush to bring back Jose Goncalves into the XI. After Goncalves was removed from the injury list prior to Saturday’s match, many of us assumed that he’d be back in the lineup. Or so we thought. Even though Jermaine Jones would rather work on his curveball than spend more time at center back, lo and behold, there he was, while the Portuguese center back took his seat among the substitutes. Granted, Goncalves did get into the match in the second half, while Jones pushed back up to the midfield. Even so, we may very well see Jones at center back again on Friday. Why? In 140 characters: The Farrell-Jones partnership is working, even if it isn’t perfect. Like the old saying goes: if it ain’t broke, don’t break it. #realtalk

4. The Revolution haven’t quite put their passing struggles behind them. Two weeks after conducting a nationally-televised passing clinic in Philadelphia, the Revolution reverted to their gift-giving ways on Saturday. Though they put together a bright start and scored, their passing accuracy took a turn for the worse not long after, with their percentage dipping into mid-60s. Heck, Chris Tierney’s passing clip at final whistle was 48.3 percent. All the more alarming: they coughed the ball up against a Red Bull squad whose strength is possession, which nearly allowed them to get a point from Saturday’s game. True, the Revolution didn’t need to be perfect on the ball against a squad that didn’t start Bradley Wright-Phillips or Lloyd Sam. But if the Revolution honestly think they can get away with that kind of carelessness on the ball every week, it may not be long before we’re talking about another summertime swoon.

5. Unlike a week ago, the Revolution needed a little bit luck to pull off the win. Marsch was surprisingly upbeat while speaking to the media after the match. Given the tone of his comments during the post-game scrum, you might have thought that the Red Bulls may have got a point from Saturday’s contest. Actually, they almost did. With halftime looming and the hosts holding on to their precious one-goal lead, Bunbury shoved Felipe inside the area, but referee Marcos de Oliveira wasn’t in the penalty-giving mood. In the second half, Wright-Phillips skied a shot over the bar, while the fact that Bunbury and Juan Agudelo, both of whom were doing all they could to get de Oliveira’s attention, both escaped with only a single caution apiece. Yes, it was physical game throughout, and credit the Revolution laying down the lumber against the technically-gifted Felipe and Sacha Kljestan. It was a smart tactic. But on a different night, with a different referee, they could’ve found themselves shorthanded at the end.

What else did we learn from Saturday’s game? Let us know in the comments section!

One Comment

  1. Chris B

    May 4, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    I learned that Woodberry is the real deal. He impresses me again and again with each game he plays. He was bound to get an assist at some point with all of those great deliveries!

Leave a Reply