New England Soccer Today

Five Questions: #NYvNE

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

There’s a saying that the darkest part of the night is right before dusk. We all know that soccer clubs do not adhere to the rules of nature, but it’s not outside the realm to think that a turnaround for the slumping Revolution might be right around the corner.

In news that shocked no one, Jay Heaps called last weekend’s fiasco in Frisco the worst loss of the season. Last year, the Revolution dropped a 5-1 loss at LA – their worst of the summer 2014 – only 14 days before getting back in the win column, and not long after, turning the season around.

Obviously, past results don’t predict future success. We’re not saying with 100 percent certainty that the loss in Dallas will eventually set them back on course. After all, there’s no steadfast rule in soccer that a team will turn the corner after a humiliating defeat. Even so, there are a couple of things to consider that may signal a reversal of fortune for the Revolution.

The first: a loss as painful as the one in Frisco forces a club to face the music. The problems become impossible to overlook after the kind of drubbing the locals took in Dallas. And after a three-day rest – their first such break since mid-June – they finally get the opportunity to take corrective measures.

The second: with the aforementioned mini-break at their disposal, the Heaps told the media that he finally had the opportunity to look back at the first half of the season after the recent cluster of games prevented him from doing so. With a better picture of what’s undermined his squad’s success since early-May, the coaching staff has a better idea of where to make changes, at least in theory.

It’ll remain to be seen whether that turnaround arrives this weekend, next weekend, or next month. For now, let’s focus our attention to Saturday’s match.

1. What, if any, changes will we see? Prior to Wednesday’s training, Heaps said there will be changes behind the scenes now that he’s had the chance to sit down and analyze his team’s play during the first half of the season. Given the way the team’s played over the last two months, it’s not unreasonable to think that gameday adjustments are in store, as well. After what went down in Frisco, it looks like we could see Andy Dorman back in the lineup and, possibly, the return of Juan Agudelo on the right. Another potential returnee: Kelyn Rowe, who might be primed to take advantage of a depleted Red Bulls backline.

2. Will it be another tough day at the office for the midfield? There’s no doubt the Revolution are at a disadvantage when Jermaine Jones isn’t in the lineup. Without him, there’s been a noticeable dip in grit and leadership. Even so, that doesn’t mean they’re doomed to another drubbing at Red Bull Arena. Yes, the Red Bulls’ midfield is a talented group – perhaps even more talented than the one the Revolution faced last week at Dallas. But if the Revolution can get back to capitalizing on turnovers, and catching the Red Bulls flat-footed in transition – something that’s happened to them far too regularly as of late – then a win isn’t outside the realm.

3. Can Charlie Davies get back on the scoresheet? Given the amount of work he’s undertaken with little reward as of late, you have to think he’s due. After getting next to nil service in Frisco, and not much more of it the week before against Vancouver, the veteran striker has to like the matchup before him. He’s scored four goals in his last four contests against the Red Bulls, who’ll be without Kemar Lawrence and Karl Ouimette on Saturday due to Gold Cup duty. Plus, with London Woodberry set to return to his right back’s spot, the likelihood of Davies getting his seventh – and maybe even eighth – goal of the season should be greater than it was last weekend.

4. How can the Revolution avoid an encore of last week’s performance at Toyota Stadium?  Aside from winning more midfield battles and being strong in transition, one of the biggest challenges the Revolution face on Saturday is the one taking place between their collective ears. Yes, the group as a whole cannot allow themselves to get mentally worn down the same way they did in Dallas. They cannot dwell on the failures, and allow them to pile up in their minds. Over the course of their nine-game unbeaten streak (remember that?), the Revolution weren’t perfect. They weren’t invincible. But on the whole, they played with confidence. They played with the assurance that no matter the circumstance, they would find a way to get the result. In order to get out of this rut, the locals have to avoid the worrying, and play to win.

5. Is Saturday’s game a must-win? Let’s be real: Saturday’s match isn’t a do-or-die game. Whether they win, lose or draw against the Red Bulls, there will still be 13 games to work with. Even so, a loss – or even a draw – won’t do the Revolution much good. Not only will it extend their slump, but it will leave the door wide open for the Red Bulls, Crew, and Orlando City to all overtake them in the standings by the end of the weekend. Oh, and did we mention that all three have games in hand? Forget the rivalry game storyline. This is the kind of match that could make those final 13 games all the more difficult if the Revolution don’t get maximum points.

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

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