New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: #HOUvNE

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

So much for the notion that the Revolution were simply going to roll over and die like they did in their previous pair of First Kick clashes.

It took all of three minutes for Diego Fagundez to uncork what was probably the best Revolution goal you’ll see all year on matchday one while Daigo Kobayashi opened his account with the locals a particularly opportune moment to cap Sunday’s 3-3 draw in dramatic fashion.

Action? Plenty of it. Goals? You bet. Defense? Um, not so much. Subplots? Heck, where do we begin? So let’s dive right into to five of them.

1. It’s better to have a Free Chipotle Card than a Team MVP trophy. Revolution supporters didn’t even have to wait for the opening whistle for the first dramatic sequence of the regular season to unfold. With Gershon Koffie and Kelyn Rowe penciled in for the deeper central midfield spots, the reigning team MVP took a seat on the bench. The team-freaking-MVP. On the bench. While Caldwell, who may have been left of the XI for tactical reasons, subsequently came on for Rowe when the latter picked up an injury, it was a sober reminder of one important tenant of Jay Heaps’ coaching philosophy: no one’s spot is ever truly safe.

2. Kelyn Rowe is going to have to do some serious legwork at the gym if he plans to stay at the no. 8 spot. Talk about getting thrown into the fire. Although Rowe saw action in the box-to-box role during the preseason, the regular season is an entirely different beast. And that’s especially true when a guy whose nickname is “Red Card” is marking you. A playmaker by trade, the fifth-year midfielder endured plenty of abuse from Ricardo Clark on Sunday, so much so that that he had to tap out at halftime before Caldwell was ushered in. Not everyone is cut out for the dirty work required from the no. 8 (or the no. 6, for that matter), and whether Rowe can do it is one development worth watching as the season progresses.

3. The hype train surrounding Jordan McCrary made an unexpected pit stop at the station. Whenever a top-10 pick enters camp, the idea of said pick becoming an opening day starter is always an interesting preseason storyline. That was certainly true with Jordan McCrary, who not only was taken with 10th overall pick, but specialized at an area of need (right back). The North Carolina alum got plenty of minutes during the preseason, and even scored a goal. That said, you just can’t put too much stock into wintertime performances, and McCrary’s absence from the 18 on Sunday speaks to the fact that he’s still got some ways to go before he’s ready to take over the right back’s spot.

4. Leave it to the guy who literally just joined the club to have one of the better individual performances. With McCrary and Darrius Barnes getting most of the minutes at right back in Arizona, it looked very much like Watson would be a backup, at best, on Sunday. But Jay Heaps had other ideas. And those ideas were accurate. Watson fit into the XI seamlessly, and played like he’d spent the last three years in a Revolution uniform instead of, you know, just joining (officially, at least) the club 48 hours before. So good was the Jamaican international that earned an honorable mention shoutout on the MLS Team of the Week following the match.

5. You can’t make assumptions after one week of play. You just can’t. The defense didn’t look great, but then again, the concept of defense in and of itself took a backseat across the league on Sunday. Yes, Fagundez scored a stunner, but that doesn’t mean he’s due to resume his 2013 form (which, it should be noted, didn’t take shape until the eighth game of that campaign). Indeed, there were plenty positives and negatives to go around following Sunday’s match. But with 33 games still on the docket, it’s safe to say that it’s much too early for worrying – or overhyping, for that matter – anything at this juncture.

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