New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: #NEvTOR

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

It’s fair to say that Jermaine Jones wasn’t too pleased with leaving Saturday’s match with nearly half-an-hour to go.

Despite sparking the Revolution attack from the start, and connecting nearly 80 percent of his passes, Jay Heaps decided to take him off for Andy Dorman in the 62nd minute. And the skipper (more on that later) proceeded to make a B-line for the locker room instead of taking a seat on the bench.

Following the match, Heaps said that the reasoning behind the sub was two-fold: 1. to save Jones’ legs with a midweek match on tap and 2. because he’d missed training earlier in the week due to a knock (funny, we didn’t see him on the injury report). Unfortunately, we never got Jones’ version of the story because he declined to speak to the media following the match, which only led to more speculation about his hasty exit.

Did Jones look in top form? No, he didn’t. He failed to register a single shot, and at times, appeared hesitant to journey forward. That said, even an 80 percent Jones is still better than many players in this league, as we saw last year when he played through a painful sports hernia.

Whatever transpired behind the scenes on Saturday, it’s a bad look when your highest-paid player runs off the to locker room in the middle of the match. And the fact that he was wearing the captain’s armband only moments earlier didn’t make the optics any better.

We know Jones is a competitor. He’ll never be thrilled with leaving any game early, nevermind a 1-1 game against a strong conference rival. So to see him upset at the substitution wasn’t a surprise. However, to watch him duck out instead of sticking around to support his teammates was probably not the best way of handling the situation.

It’ll be interesting to see how this mini-drama plays itself out. But before Netflix picks it up for syndication, let’s take a look at what else we learned from Saturday’s match.

1. Jones’ presence in the midfield was sorely missed. He may have held his own for the most part in the back, but it was clear as day that the Revolution lacked something in the middle of the park while he was moonlighting at center back. Against a tough Toronto midfield, Jones pulled plenty of strings, stretched the field, and helped steer the attack toward a number of chances in the first half. Perhaps most importantly, Jones’ presence opened up more space for both Lee Nguyen, who registered a game-high five shots, and Juan Agudelo, who went on to score the opener in the 32nd minute. Yes, his evening may have been blemished by his curious departure, but there’s no doubt that when he right in the thick of things, the Revolution were as dangerous as ever.

2. It’s captain by committee going forward. Following the match, Heaps was asked why Jones was given the armband even though Jose Goncalves, who’s been the skipper for the majority of his time in New England, was back in the lineup. Heaps’ answer, in a nutshell: his team has a lot of veterans, and the armband is a “team concept.” OK, we’ll go along with that even if it’s a bit of vague answer. But one of the primary tenants of the captaincy is to serve as the voice of the squad. To help foster an identity. Allowing multiple voices over the course of a season undermines that concept. If Heaps wants to hand the captaincy to Jones over Goncalves, then so be it. But to leave it open for discussion is inviting trouble for a team that could lose up to three players for a chunk of the summer due to Gold Cup obligations.

3. The Revolution must not have gotten the memo about the importance of shutting the door on their opponents. This talking point could apply to the lackadaisical defending on Michael Bradley’s singular effort, of course, but the more troubling aspect of Saturday’s draw was that the Revolution fluffed three gift-wrapped chances to walk away with three points. First, there was Andy Dorman’s 1 v 1 on Chris Konopka, who boldly snuffed it out. Then there was Lee Nguyen’s shot from the right that barely skimmed wide of the post. Finally, there was Diego Fagundez’s wayward header in stoppage time. Obviously, there’s no easy button to correct the finishing. But if the Revolution want to put their money where their mouth is, they can’t continue to waste their chances, especially during the most favorable portion of their schedule.

4. Diego Fagundez is making a strong case for a spot in the XI. Yes, that butchered free header wasn’t exactly a highlight for the popular Homegrown Player. Even so, the Revolution midfielder has looked strong off the bench over the last few weeks. Following the match, Heaps was shockingly honest about his use of Fagundez as of late, saying he regretted that he didn’t introduce Fgaundez sooner into the club’s last two matches. And it’s easy to see why: Fagundez has played with a noticeable chip on his shoulder since losing his starting spot. Note: That chip is only going to grow bigger in the wake of his U-20 World Cup snub. If it parlays into stronger performances each week, it may not be long before Fagundez is back in the XI.

5. London Woodberry continues to prove that he’s no flash in the pan. For the second time in three games, the Revolution benefited from a sound cross from Woodberry, a player who’s certainly come into his own over the last month. The 23-year-old defender hasn’t just provided quality service from the flank, either. He’s also generally solid in the rear, though he isn’t exactly the fastest fullback in the league. Even so, the tradeoff is worth it: his ability to put in a decent cross opposite of Chris Tierney undoubtedly gives the attack another element. If he can stay in form, and Tierney can stay healthy, big things could be in store for the Revolution offense as the season progresses.

What else did we learn from Saturday’s contest? Give us your take in the comments section!

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