New England Soccer Today

Five Questions: #NEvVAN

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

With the Revolution’s fifth game in the last 15 days on tap, and little time to spare, we go from 0 to 60 on this edition of Five Questions.

1. What do the Revolution need to protect any lead they claim on Saturday? One word: confidence. The Revolution not only need the self-belief to keep the offensively-charged Whitecaps off the board (no small feat, mind you), but to build upon any lead they happen to get. After all, the burden of protecting the advantage shouldn’t just fall on the shoulders of the defense. Attacking players like Lee Nguyen, Charlie Davies, Teal Bunbury and Juan Agudelo must complete their passes and take their shots with the belief that it’ll lead to paydirt. In Jay Heaps’ words – they must be lethal. The fear of failure must exit their minds altogether. And that is what it’s going to take to run with the Whitecaps and seize three points from Saturday’s contest.

2. What can the attack do to generate more offense? To make the most of the opportunities they create, the Revolution must figure out a way to capitalize on the space and pockets that Davies creates. The Revolution striker has long undertook the dirty work to help his wingers and central attacking midfielders find the breathing room necessary for that open shot. To that end, Nguyen must be better on his efforts. Bunbury’s crosses must also improve, while Agudelo has to do more than just drag defenders away from the rest. One positive sign: the return of London Woodberry, who was rested for Wednesday’s match. With him and Tierney on the pitch, the Revolution should be able to stretch the Vancouver defense – or at the very least, generate more opportunities than they did in Columbus.

3. Is Lee Nguyen ready to bag another goal? If the past – both recent and semi-distant – is any indication, then all signs point to yes. After bagging his first goal from the run of play in 2015 earlier this week in Columbus, the creative midfielder should enter Saturday’s contest with more confidence than he’s had all season. But that isn’t the only reason. Three years ago, Nguyen scored two goals – one from long-distance – against Vancouver (a.k.a the club that cut him loose prior to the 2012 season) in a 4-1 rout. While Nguyen has said in the past that he harbors no ill will to his former MLS home, rest assured that he will enter the match with plenty of swagger. And who knows? Maybe it’s the kind of swagger that could finally allow him to start piling up some goals.

4. Will Diego Fagundez be back in the XI? You have to like his chances, all things considered. Following the Revolution’s last home game – a 2-0 win over the Fire – Heaps said that Fagundez is at his best under the bright lights of Gillette Stadium. So in a sense, it wasn’t a surprise that he was absent from the lineup at both DC and Columbus. But now that the Revolution are back at home, you have to think that he, at least, stands a decent chance of returning to the XI. Although the Whitecaps are a team that packs plenty of punch, they’d be happy to take a point considering where they are – that is, in the midst of a five-game road trip. To put it another way: this is exactly the kind of matchup that Heaps would like to use his Homegrown Player in. Plus, factor in the combined 135 minutes Agudelo has played in since Sunday, and it appears that Fagundez could be primed for a spot in Saturday’s lineup.

5. Are the Revolution ripe for the picking? It’s a fair question when you’re talking about a team that’s not only lost eight of their last nine league games, but was also blanked by a USL side in Boston during Open Cup play last week. A third-division team, for crying out loud. Some will point to the Revolution’s current 19-game unbeaten streak at home, and say that they’ll come out strong against the Whitecaps. Even so, the Revolution are clearly in a rut, and the creature comforts of home won’t do the trick alone. Not against a team like the Whitecaps, who have no qualms playing on turf. Not only that, but they enter Saturday’s contest coming off back-to-back road wins. And, oh yeah, they have a pretty darn good offense, one which could be strengthened by the possible return of injured midfielder Pedro Morales. Put it this way: the Whitecaps are a far cry from the Fire selection the Revolution beat two weeks ago. In light of that little fact, if the locals bring anything less than their best to the pitch on Saturday, then all the talk about how strong they’ve been at home over the last 11 months will be hushed.

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

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