New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: #NEvDC

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

There is a great scene in The Miracle Match – the 2005 motion picture based on the 1950 U.S. team that shocked England at the World Cup in Belo Horizonte – in which the hastily-assembled American squad lands in Brazil with a wonderful surprise awaiting them.

In the weeks leading up to the tournament, the players routinely asked coach Bill Jeffrey when they were going to receive their kits. And every time they asked, Jeffrey essentially said they were coming. Just be patient.

At the time, the state of the U.S. Soccer Football Federation (now U.S. Soccer) at that point was, at best, a loosely-organized group with little structure or organization. The squad itself was an All-Star team from St. Louis with a few players from Fall River and New York thrown in for good measure.

Finally, after a handful or scrimmages and a long-flight to Brazil, the players are presented their crisp, white jerseys by U.S. military officers at base in Belo Horizonte. It was hardly a symbolic gesture; many of the players who wore the U.S. kit during that historic upset were servicemen themselves. Clearly, representing one’s country on the biggest stage in soccer held special meaning to this group.

As remarkable as their 1-0 victory over mighty England was (and still is), the most compelling aspect of that shock win that it was authored by a number of gentlemen who also fought for our freedom.

On this Memorial Day weekend, a weekend in which we commemorate the sacrifices made by the men and women of our military, it’s important to remember that all gave some, and some gave all.


As a result of their sacrifices, we were able to enjoy Saturday’s Revolution-United contest in relative safety, without fear of persecution. Before we revisit that match, we say THANK YOU to each and every member of the U.S. military, especially to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.


1. The Revolution don’t get a point out of Saturday’s match without Jermaine Jones. When the Revolution acquired Jones last August, they knew they had a player who could steer the club in the right direction. While the acquisition paid immediate dividends last autumn, we may have witnessed the first instance in which the veteran midfielder  carried the team on his back. Down to nine men, Jones set the example by winning duels and providing support to his teammates. He made a team-high five tackles, was fouled four times, made three interceptions, and completed 80 percent of his passes only four days after going the full 90 in Kansas City. After the match, Jones told the media how important it was for him to set the tone for the rest of the squad. And that’s exactly what he did, which made it possible for the Revolution to get an improbable point on Saturday.

2. Andrew Farrell may have just played the game of his life. After watching not one, but two of his teammates get tossed in quick succession, it’d be hard to fault a defender for being cautious on his challenges. Fortunately for the Revolution, that idea never took root in Farrell’s mind. For if it did, he wouldn’t have made a number of bold challenges, or stayed confident despite the odds. His positioning was spot-on nearly every time, and save for that sneaky Jairo Arrieta goal – the kind of goal Arrieta has made a career of – Farrell was sensational. Not that Heaps was surprised. After watching Farrell day-in and day-out for the past three seasons, the Revolution coach said what we saw on Saturday was nothing more than a standard performance for the converted center back.

3. Scott Caldwell will wear the captain’s armband before long. It probably wouldn’t be a stretch to say that one of Caldwell’s biggest fans is his own coach. And not just because he wears the same number Jay Heaps sported during his playing career, either. Heaps has often praised the unglamourous and thankless work Caldwell has undertaken for the bulk of his MLS career. But on Saturday, we saw just the kind of esteem Heaps holds for his Homegrown defensive midfielder. After Lee Nguyen’s dismissal, Heaps motioned over to Caldwell to give him the gameplan for the remaining half-hour. Not Jones or Goncalves, but Caldwell, the positionally-sound and tireless midfielder. Given the amount of trust that Heaps clearly has in Caldwell, it’s just a matter of time before the Braintree, Mass. native gets the chance to wear the armband.

4. Teal Bunbury showed just how much of a force he can be defensively. We all know what Bunbury brings to the table as a speedy, attack-minded striker-turned-winger. We’ve seen it plenty of times over the last year-and-a-half. At some point, we figure it’ll earn him another bobblehead night. But on Saturday, we saw just how valuable he was when it became a battle of wills. With DC bearing down during the last half-hour, Bunbury made four tackles, won a team-high three aerial challenges, and covered acres of ground to stifle United’s attack. Not that it was an especially big ask, mind you. Bunbury’s dedication to his defensive game has made his spot in the XI a virtual lock, but to see him become a key cog in their late-game stand showed just how important he is to the defensive effort.

5. Saturday’s match was a character result. Yes, Mark Geiger didn’t do the Revolution any favors by sending off two of their best players in quick succession. But in an odd sense, his decisions gave us much greater insight into how this team performs under pressure. Revolution squads of years past would’ve likely crumbled, especially against a fierce foe like DC. Instead, the Revolution rose to occasion, led by its veteran core (or what was left of it) with Jones, Goncalves and Bunbury all putting in extra work. It also spoke to the team’s never-say-die spirit, which is easy to talk about, but difficult to put into practice when the chips are truly down. We’ll never know whether the Revolution would’ve overtaken DC in the standings if the match remained 11 v 11. Even so, Saturday’s match showed the kind of mental strength that may keep the club from suffering another summertime swoon.

What else did we learned from Saturday’s match? Tell us in the comments section!


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