New England Soccer Today

Five Questions: #NEvDC


Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

We don’t know how Saturday’s Revolution-DC United game is going to play out at this juncture. Sorry, our crystal ball is permanently set for lottery numbers and Game of Thrones episodes. Even though the outcome of the weekend’s conference clash hasn’t yet been revealed, there’s already has plenty going for it.

For starters: no Jermaine Jones at center back. After Wednesday’s one-star performance, the multi-million dollar man will likely return to the midfield with a fully-rested Andrew Farrell back in the heart of the defense, not to mention a suspended Andy Dorman unable to go.

Another thing going for Saturday’s game: Bobby Shuttleworth will be back in goal. With due respect to Brad Knighton, but there’s a reason why there’s no goalkeeper controversy, and it has nothing to do with the fact that Shuttleworth and Jay Heaps are both avid basketball fans.

One more thing going for it: Chris Tierney will be back on the pitch. While Kevin Alston may have held his own at left back at Kansas City, there’s just no replacement for Tierney’s precise left foot on set pieces.

Maybe the best part of Saturday’s contest? No more Benny Feilhaber. Even without his mullet, the former Revolution midfielder continues to be an irritant to his ex-teammates. And we just saw him for the last time during the regular season. We tip our caps to you, offseason realignment.

With Saturday’s match already ticketed to be the best one ever (or at least close) it’s time to examine the questions that surround it.

1. Will we see Daigo Kobayashi? For all the talk about how much the midfield has missed Jones’ presence, there’s also something to be said about what Kobayashi btings to the table. The veteran midfielder has been hampered by a hamstring injury since late Match, and the Revolution haven’t exactly been better off with out him. His technical skill and vision were both sorely missed in Kansas City, and his ability to link up with Lee Nguyen might be one reason why the latter has been goal-starved. With the Japanese midfielder presumably healthy, and Dorman suspended, we may very well see the return of the midfield wizard on Saturday.

2. Can the Revolution finally protect a lead? Over the last four weeks, the Revolution have claimed leads four times, but only one win to show for it. So much for setting the tone. If the Revolution are going to start reversing their fortunes on Saturday, they’ll have to do three things: 1. get the lead. 2. defend that lead, and 3. add to that lead. It’s simple when you’re punching it out on a keyboard, of course. But the Revolution are capable. They have a number of attacking weapons, and do not have to worry about Jones in the rear this week. So half the battle is already won. Now all they have to do is execute, which should be easier without having to worry about Luis Silva, Eddie Johnson or Fabian Espindola, all of whom won’t be uniform for DC.

3. Where can the Revolution find success? Two words: the wings. With Tierney slated to return and London Woodberry unlikely to release his grip on the right back’s spot, the Revolution attack could come to life on Saturday. DC has been surprisingly poor on the flanks this year, and having to contend with Tierney, Woodberry, Teal Bunbury and Juan Agudelo should put at least a little worry in the back of Ben Olsen’s mind. Yes, DC is one of the stingiest teams in the league. They’re certainly no easy nut to crack. Even so, the Revolution have a distinct advantage on the flanks, and at home in front of the home crowd, DC could find itself on the ropes early and often on Saturday.

4. Is Saturday’s game a statement game for the Revolution? We know the calendar reads May 23, which means the postseason hunt is still a good four months away. But it’s never to early to send a message to the rest of the league. Note: Saturday’s match presents that opportunity. After Wednesday’s letdown in Barbeque City, the sheen on the Revolution may have dulled somewhat. Plus, with the whole first-place/second-place storyline, this is a perfect opportunity for the locals to . Oh, and did we mention that summer is just around the corner? Yes, Revs fans, it’s almost that time of the year again. Beware the summertime swoon. So although Saturday’s match won’t determine playoff rankings, it does present a chance for the Revs to show their mettle.

5. Can Juan Agudelo stay hot? It won’t be easy. Although we already mentioned that DC is prone on the flanks, the fact of the matter is that they haven’t allowed more than one goal in a game this year, and with him likely back on the right, the chances will be harder to find. Nevertheless, Agudelo is playing with confidence. And he’s healthy. Put the two together, and you’ve got a 22-year-old ready to add to his haul. To do so, he’ll have to get the best of Sean Franklin, who’s no slouch at right back. That said, don’t expect Agudelo to stay on the left for the entire 90. He’ll likely play a little switcheroo with Bunbury as the game progresses, which will leave Taylor Kemp or Chris Korb with an enormous responsibility on the left. We’re not predicting Agudelo will definitely score…actually, yes – yes, we are.

What other questions surround the Revolution going into Saturday’s match? Tell us in the comments section!

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