New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: #NYCvNE

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Could Jay Heaps have asked anything more from his group of talented footballers on the final day of regular season fare?

After stumbling through a four-game slump, and generally under-performing since the leaves started changing colors, the Revolution finished the regular season with a bang by beating New York City FC 3-1 in a match that, for all intents and purposes, the locals needed to win to bolster their postseason cred.

Sunday was coined #DecisionDay by the MLS marketing team. But make no mistake: the Revolution made a decision of their own, and that was to play up to their potential.

With a quick turnaround before Wednesday’s knockout round at DC United, let’s take a look what we learned from Sunday’s emphatic win.

1. The offense picked a good time to wake itself from its inexplicable early hibernation. Just when you thought the offense couldn’t get any duller, they go out and do something like this…and totally redeem themselves. Not only did they score early, but they did it often enough to ensure that there was nothing fluky about it, either. Lee Nguyen looked like a player possessed, while Charlie Davies provided the kind of spark that had gone missing since mid-September. Then there was Jermaine Jones, who for the first time in recent memory, played like the same guy on that billboard in front of Gillette Stadium. For weeks, the players kept saying that this team had the talent to give a good lashing to their foes, but couldn’t quite back it up. On Sunday, they finally did, and not a moment too soon.

2. Kelyn Rowe’s goal might have been the most important goal scored going into the postseason. In terms of Sunday’s scoreline, Nguyen’s goal was they key, and if you don’t believe us, just ask Jay Heaps. But if we’re looking at the bigger picture, then Rowe’s 55th minute strike could be the biggest. With all the doubt surrounding the attack in recent weeks, the Revolution needed to put as many exclamation points as possible on Sunday’s match. By our count, Rowe’s goal was worth at least three of them, and at maybe even two happy-face emojis. Another thing that snap header served to do: it reminded us just how dangerous the Revolution can be on set pieces. And in the postseason, getting goals from these scenarios is crucial to any team’s success.

3. The switch at striker was just what the Revolution needed. By all accounts, Juan Agudelo’s presence up top during the last two games wasn’t what was eating the offense. The physical forward’s performance in Chicago was the lone bright spot of a 3-1 defeat, while he was one of maybe two players who showed ambition in last weekend’s loss to Montreal. That said, something had to change. The Revolution needed a spark, and let’s be honest: who’s better than Charlie Davies in that department? With a sizable chip on this shoulder after sitting down for the start of the last two games, Davies wasted no time proving that he belonged in XI with an assist on Nguyen’s second-minute strike. Then, of course, was the classic sequence in which Davies wins the ball, then makes a B-line for goal before finishing it in the 38th minute. Turning nothing into something: that’s what Davies does, and that’s what he did again on Sunday to reverse his team’s recent fortunes.

4. The breaks finally fell the Revolution’s way. Not to take away from a pretty impressive 90-minute span down the Bronx, but let’s call a spade a spade: the Revolution were fortunate to escape a few early scares. The first was Chris Wingert’s botched free header near the half-hour mark, then Frank Lampard’s rocket off the bar. A goal at either sequence could’ve easily changed the script going into the second half, but the Revolution were fortunate to have their lucky stars watching over them on Sunday (aside from the late-penalty, of course), something that didn’t definitely happen at Montreal. Or vs. Philadelphia. Or at Chicago. Or vs. Montreal, either. We won’t call Sunday a lucky win, rather, another reminder of how luck often falls in a team’s favor when they play well and execute the gameplan.

5. There’s plenty of reasons to believe that this club can make waves in the playoffs. If the Revolution were looking to make a statement in Sunday’s season finale, it’s pretty fair to say that they succeeded, and did so using the bold, italic, and underline buttons (figuratively, of course). A 1-0 win probably would’ve restored some of the hope that was lost among many supporters, but a victory of the 3-1 variety was a sure-fire sign that the Revolution were far from ready to look at tombstones. Take your pick: whether it was the way the offense performed, the defensive stance, or even the fact that the hang time on Rowe’s header was LeBron-esque, the biggest thing we learned from Sunday’s match was that you cannot count this group out. At least not now, which is a stark contrast from the way many felt about this team before Sunday’s 5:00pm kickoff.

(Editor’s note: With the postseason upon us, and the crush of coverage required for it, the formats for Five Things We Learned and Five Questions is officially on its offseason break, and will return in 2016. We’ll see you here again in March, loyal readers!)

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