New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: #NEvDC

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

The early part of the season has often proven to be a forum for frustrating football for the Revolution in recent years. And Saturday’s scoreless draw was just the latest reminder of that.

Lest the belief take hold that this offense was ready to set the nets on fire, the talented attack did what they’ve done oh so many times during the month of March: they left a giant goose egg on the board. On home turf, no less. What’s worse: they did it only six days after scoring three times…on the road.

Over the years, players and coaches have said the final third is where the kinks take the longest to uncoil. That it goes back to front when it comes to finding consistency. If true, the Houston game may have simply been an outlier, and that another bout of early-season struggles is ahead.

Nevertheless, with the conference as strong as ever, and a slew of six-pointers on tap, the Revolution have to hope things get figured out faster than they did over the last two years.

So what else did we learn from Saturday’s match?

1. The Revolution have to be much more clinical against teams looking to kill a game. By now, everyone in MLS has read the book on the Revolution offense. Heck, Ben Olsen could probably recite it word-for-word given the way his teams come here to pocket a point and leave. The general synopsis: flood the box, and watch the frustration unfold. That said, DC wasn’t perfect. Then again, few teams are when it comes to that strategy. This is why the Revolution can’t let eight-yard shots smack off the crossbar, or 10-yard bids skip past the far post. All they have to remember is this: the ball has its own energy or life force, if you will. Its natural environment is in the goal. Why don’t they send him home? His bags are packed. He has his plane ticket. Bring him to the airport. Send him home.

2. The turf monster is capable of showing mercy. The artificial surface at Gillette Stadium isn’t in the business of winning friends, but it should be applauded by local supporters for sparing Charlie Davies on Saturday. After the affable striker went down with a non-contact injury just after the half-hour, many immediately feared a potentially dreadful injury similar to the season-enders that Saer Sene and Darrius Barnes suffered in recent years. But the scare didn’t last long, though, as the striker himself revealed that he’d only strained his hamstring, a knock that may indicate the much-maligned turf may have a heart after all.

3. The Jose Goncalves of 2013 has time traveling powers, it appears. We’re not knocking the way the Portuguese center back’s play over the last two seasons. By no means. But the Goncalves who thoroughly dominated matches in 2013 hasn’t made as many appearances as Revolution supporters may have hoped for since then. Well, those very same supporters got a treat on Saturday. Not only did the Portuguese center back dominate the aerial war, and bully the likes of Luciano Acosta off the ball, but he also made two bids for goal on set pieces.

4. Barring injury, Daigo Kobayashi is going to be this summer’s Steve Neumann. Remember when Neumman led the league in cameos as a rookie back in 2014? Well, if the Revolution’s last two games are any indication, then it looks like Heaps will be pulling the trigger on the Kobayashi sub just as often. Sure, we all saw the last-gasp header to level it in Houston, but the Japanese midfielder was nearly just as effective on Saturday. So good was Kobayashi that Heaps said  after the match that he should’ve introduced the midfielder sooner, a compliment of the highest order from the Revolution head coach.

5. The Revolution attack will get better once Je-Vaughn Watson gets fully integrated. We all know DC was playing for the draw on Saturday, as evidenced by all those white shirts in front of Travis Worra. However, a closer look at the film shows they essentially gifted the Revolution the entire right flank as they paid close attention to the left foot of Chris Tierney. To his credit, Watson eventually took notice, though it was evident that he wasn’t quite sure of the runner situation given that, you know, he just joined the squad a few weeks ago. But once he does, the Revolution attack should reap the benefits.

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