New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: #NEvCHI

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Jay Heaps could not have scripted Saturday’s game much better than the way in which it unfolded.

Aside from that dodgy sequence around the 26th minute, the Revolution pretty much hit upon everything they hadn’t done over the course of the last six games.

Protect the lead? Check.

Pitch the shutout? Check.

Get max points? Check.

Were the Revolution perfect on Saturday? By no means. Second half substitute Jason Johnson snuck under the defense not once, but twice and, fortunately for the locals, missed on both opportunities (hence, the reason why Johnson is a sub, and not a starter).

But no one will remember those close calls. No one will remember the 3-4 chances the Fire created midway through the first half. Because the fact of the matter is that Saturday’s win was a long time coming for the Revolution. And rest assured, the only thing besides Diego Fagundez’s golazo that will remain in the minds of the coaches, players, and fans from the match is this: Revolution 2, Fire 0.

So what did we learn from the locals’ first win since early-May?

1. Diego Fagundez sure knows how to turn it on at home. When asked about Fagundez’s home form, Heaps made reference to the bright lights of Gillette Stadium as something that seems to motivate his talented 20-year-old. We don’t know if the wattage in the stadium’s light banks played any part in his 48th minute hit from the top of the box, but Heaps did make an interesting observation as to why he likes to use Fagundez at home. Generally, teams come to Foxborough with a defensive-minded approach, and Fagundez’s creativity and elusiveness often pulls that shape apart. His ability to create matchup problems for opposing defenses – especially against poorer ones like Chicago’s – makes him a strong candidate to start at home. While Fagundez certainly looked good, skunk stripe and all, on Saturday, he’ll have to improve his road form in order to warrant more starts.

2. As timely as the goals were, keeping the clean sheet was vital to the Revolution’s success. While no one would be faulted for talking about Fagundez’s wonderstrike after the match, Heaps was quick to point out that it was Andrew Farrell and Jose Goncalves who set the tone for Saturday’s win. He said that the center back duo was putting in the work during training in the week leading up to the match, and showed as much on Saturday. After watching leads fall by the wayside in five of their last six, Farrell and Goncalves, along with Chris Tierney and London Woodberry, were strong in the rear after Davies’ goal. As result, the Revolution not only secured their first clean sheet since April, but restored the back four’s collective confidence – and not a moment too soon with a tough stretch of road games on tap.

3. Jay Heaps may not be Herb Brooks, but that halftime talk did the Revolution wonders. It wasn’t the most compelling or inspiring speech ever given in the hallowed halls of Gillette Stadium, and Heaps probably won’t be confused with former USA Hockey coach Herb Brooks anytime soon. But the message in the Revolution locker room was straight to the point: don’t come back here without three points. Not one point. Not two points (?). Three points. After they were unable to pick apart the depleted Fire in the first half, the coaches and players knew they had to be better in the second stanza. And with that all-or-nothing mindset, the Revolution dug in and went to work. They struck in quick succession, and against a demoralized opponent, it was essentially game, set, match by the time Charlie Davies’ redirection settled into the back of the net.

4. Charlie Davies is in the midst of a special season. Remember all the talk about Davies potentially losing the starting striker’s role because of Juan Agudelo’s return? Well, so much for that idea. With the season approaching the halfway mark, Davies has not only kept the role, but his six goals are tops on the team. But the stats only tell part of the story. Following Saturday’s match, Davies told the media that he hasn’t felt as good following a 90 minute run since before his well-documented 2009 car accident. If Davies can stay healthy, and his ability to break down defenses continues, this could be one of the most inspiring seasons we’ve ever seen from a Revolution player, striker or otherwise.

5. As welcome as the win was for the Revolution, it’s too early to tell whether their woes are behind them. There was plenty to like about Saturday’s victory, no doubt. The offense looked alive, the defense stayed strong, and we even witnessed the potential goal of the week winner. On all accounts, Saturday’s match was a welcome development for the Revolution. But they may not be out of the woods just yet. Depth and fitness will be tested over the course of the next six weeks, with trips to DC, Columbus and Dallas all on the agenda. Oh, and then there’s also the very small detail that they’ll play mid-week matches in back-to-back weeks with Wednesday’s Open Cup tilt, and next Wednesday’s match against the Crew. Another mid-week match could be in the wings if the Revolution beat the Charlotte Independence at Harvard, which would set them up for a fifth-round match on either Jun. 30 or Jul. 1. It’s too early to tell what effect the schedule congestion will have on the Revolution, but one thing we do know is this: the coaching staff will have its work cut out for them between now and the end of July.

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

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