New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: #NEvNYC

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Is it too soon to say that the Revolution’s summertime slump is over after they claimed their first set of three points since mid-June on Saturday? Yes. But it’s not unrealistic to think that the darkest days are finally behind them.

With that long-awaited win finally theirs, the schedule in front of the Revolution reads as follows: at Chicago, vs. Toronto, bye week, home vs. Houston, bye week, and at Philadelphia. Note the absence of midweek matches, the fact that the Revolution have already beaten Chicago and Philadelphia, and oh yeah, the TWO bye weeks. Additionally, the schedule – which hasn’t been especially kind since the start of the summer – has the Revolution on the pitch only three times during the dog days of August, and two of those occasions will take place at Gillette Stadium.

But the schedule itself isn’t the only thing that seems to be unfolding in the Revolution’s favor. If the original prognosis on Jermaine Jones’ injury is still accurate (6-8 weeks following surgery), the high-energy midfielder could make his return in time for the Aug. 15 clash against the Dynamo. And it’s no secret what kind of impact Jones has had on his club’s fortunes.

If the above hasn’t convinced you that worst is over, but you enjoy a good parallel, consider this: last year, the Revolution unofficially closed their summertime struggles with a 1-0 win at home against a side below the red line (Chivas USA), had Jones on the field not long after, and never looked back.

It’s too early to tell what the second-half of the summer and fall hold for the Revolution at this juncture, so let’s turn our attention to what we know – the past – and what we learned from it.

1. It only figures that a makeshift defensive unit would rise to the occasion…again. For all the club’s defensive struggles, the Revolution sure got a lift from a backline that featured a converted defender, a center back turned right back turned center back, and a backup keeper. With the spotlight on Jeremy Hall, London Woodberry and Brad Knighton, all three helped pitch in a strong effort against a City side that had no shortage of talent up top. For those who enjoyed the parallel above, it’s worth remembering that another patchwork back four put the skids on the squad’s season-opening struggles to keep Montreal off in the board on Mar. 21, a game that kicked off the start of a nine-game unbeaten run.

2. The Revolution still have to figure out a way to find greater returns on their chances. Following the match, Jay Heaps lamented the amount of chances that went unanswered, and with good reason. The Revolution fired 14 shots, collected eight corner kicks, and created many other potential shot-taking opportunities as well. A game that could’ve been put to bed at the hour mark remained lively and awake until the very end, with a short-handed City pressing for the equalizer. If the Revolution want to play with the killer instinct that made them one of the toughest teams in the east down the stretch last year, then they cannot continue to leave the door open, especially when they have the man-advantage.

3. A confident Diego Fagundez makes the entire attack better. It’s incredible what a little space can do for the talented 20-year-old midfielder. With City playing the same diamond formation that Jason Kreis employed when he was at Real Salt Lake, Fagundez found plenty of room to roam on the flanks. Note: giving Fagundez space is inviting trouble for any opponent. Not only did he assist on Nguyen’s game winner, but he was effective throughout by linking with teammates and making dangerous runs into the 18. This won’t happen every week, but if the Revolution can find away to drag defenders away from Fagundez (*cough* put Juan Agudelo up top *cough*), then the offense will be all the better for it.

4. The passing out of the back continues to be a concern. As nice as picking up a clean sheet looked for the defense, it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies for the backline on Saturday. While Chris Tierney (85 percent passing accuracy) was his usual sound self on the distribution tip, the distribution success for Hall (70 percent) and Woodberry (63.3 percent) wasn’t spectacular, while Andrew Farrell (60.7 percent) was surprisingly the worst of the bunch. This wasn’t by accident, either. City pressed high to force the makeshift backline into making mistakes, and nearly capitalized on that weakness early, with Patrick Mullins making an early bid for the opening goal. With Chicago likely looking to do the same on Saturday, distribution out of the back should be a primary focus in training this week.

5. The inclusion of Daigo Kobayashi was instrumental to the Revolution’s success. It only made all the sense in the world to start Kobayashi over Andy Dorman, who was in last week’s XI. Pitted against an opponent that was unaccustomed to playing on turf, and was also missing its midfield maestro (Mix Diskerud), Kobayashi looked very much in his element, especially early. His vision and innovation opened the door for Nguyen’s strike, and also kept the offense flowing for much of the match.


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