New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: #PORvNE

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/aduamphotography.com

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/aduamphotography.com

The answer as to how the Revolution were foiled by the Timbers on Saturday can be boiled down to three little letters. S, M, and H. SMH. Or Shake My Head, if you’re unfamiliar with the acronym.

Witness Teal Bunbury’s seventh minute caution. After Dairon Asprilla had baited him, then baited him some more, the Revolution winger gave into the temptation of returning the favor, and in the process, made himself a candidate for an early sub.

SMH.

Fast forward to Lee Nguyen’s 86th minute caution. Despite a number of Revolution players flooding the box, the creative midfielder decided to cut down Darlington Nagbe after being beaten for speed. The foul gave the Timbers a dangerous free kick, which they ultimately used to sink the Revolution.

SMH.

Proving that bad things happen in sets of threes, one final perplexing moment occurred in the 89th minute. Jose Goncalves, who’s overall positioning wasn’t the greatest on Saturday, allowed Fanendo Adi to sneak right by him and score his second goal in three minutes.

S…M…H.

If the Revolution really mean it when they say they want to put the skids on their recently-extended six-game winless streak, the bottom line is this: they must be mentally sharper. They must be tuned in for 90 minutes, or at the very least, the final 15 when the match is level. Otherwise, these SMH moments are going to continue to be their undoing.

No question, Saturday’s performance certainly elicited a few WTHs and OMGs from Revolution supporters. Now that the angry-faced emoticon is due for a well-deserved vacation, let’s find out what we learned.

1. The Revolution are going to need a very good Plan B if Jermaine Jones is out for awhile. We’re not doctors, so we don’t quite know the extent of Jones’ left groin strain. What we do know is this: if he’s out for an extended amount of time, the Revolution are going to have to do devise a plan of survival. Obviously, Jones is just one piece of the puzzle – but he is a very big piece. Shortly after Jones’ acquisition, players and coaches commented that his mere presence raised the bar in training and on the pitch, which in turn elevated their collective intensity. It’s safe to say that intensity was fleeting at Providence Park, where the Timbers forced the Revolution to chase the game during the final 45 minutes. Bottom line: the Revolution are a different team without Jones in tow. Their identity has changed. And they must figure out how to make the necessary adjustments if they want to stay above the red line this summer.

2. Kelyn Rowe made a case for more minutes. Leading up to Saturday’s match, it appeared as if Diego Fagundez was going to get the start six days after scoring his first goal. But Heaps ultimately decided that best way to fill Juan Agudelo’s absence was to go with Rowe. While the fourth-year midfielder has struggled to find consistency, Rowe showed himself worthy of the nod. He fired a team-high two shots on goal, one of which could’ve opened the account, and was enough of a menace for the Timbers to foul him three times, tops among Revolution players. All in all, it was a solid performance from a player who certainly needed one. Although Rowe’s spot in the lineup is far from cemented, Heaps had to have liked what he saw from his former first round pick. And with Open Cup action on tap, Rowe could be primed to revive his form.

3. The final pass continues to elude the offense. According to the stats, the Revolution and Timbers were virtual mirror images of each other on overall possession, passing accuracy and total passes. But it wasn’t hard to see that the Timbers were far more dangerous. Why? Simple: their execution in the final third was miles better. While the Timbers did well to exploit space and find the seams, poor passing and general imprecision undermined the Revolution’s chances by in the final third. Case in point: despite outshooting the Revolution 19-4, the Timbers nearly collected twice as many clearances (27-14). Translation: the Revolution’s quality in the final third simply wasn’t up to snuff. Some of that may have been due to Agudelo’s absence, to be sure, but with plenty of other attacking options at their disposal, there’s no excuse as to why the locals barely troubled Adam Larsen Kwarasey.

4. For the first time all season, the Revolution looked like they were out-worked. After the match, Heaps said he liked that liked the fight and commitment from his side, despite the way the game played out. But that fight and commitment weren’t nearly enough in the face of a foe that was flat-out relentless, especially in the second half. Despite bossing much of the match without anything to show for it as the 85th minute approach, the Timbers continued to bear down and press the issue. Eventually, that hard work paid off not once, but twice, thanks to Fanendo Adi, who made that fight and commitment all for naught in quick succession. It was evident to nearly everyone watching that the Revolution didn’t have their best stuff on Saturday. To make up for it, it was imperative that they out-work and out-muscle the Timbers. They didn’t, and they ultimately paid the price for it.

5. The Revolution need to get younger at defensive midfielder. While finding another center back should be priority no. 1 for the front office, it might behoove them to also look into some younger reinforcements for the middle of the park. Why? Take a look at the situation that unfolded on Saturday. The Revolution entered the match without their primary #6(ish), the 33-year-old Jones, which forced Heaps to start the 33-year-old Andy Dorman in his place. The Welsh International was fantastic in the first half, but faded fast after the interval, and had to be spelled late after he “ran out of gas” (Heaps’ words). And who came on for Dorman? None other than the 32-year-old Daigo Kobayashi, a self-admitted “old man.” All three are quality players, with Jones being the cream of the crop, obviously. But can the Revolution safely say they can lean on one of these players all season? Granted, the squad still has 24-year-old Scott Caldwell, 21-year-old Tyler Rudy, and 19-year-old Zach Herivaux. Caldwell may fit the bill at times, but his recent attacking form suggests that d-mid may not be his best position. Herivaux is likely years away from making the role his own, while Rudy projects to be a reserve at this juncture. Given that we haven’t even approached the dog days of summer, it might be a good idea for the front office to bring aboard a new face or two shore up the team’s depth at defensive midfielder.

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

One Comment

  1. Adrian

    June 8, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Neumann has played at d-mid in the past. He should be given some spots there in in the next few weeks as well. He’s barely played this season.

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