New England Soccer Today

All I want for Christmas… (2011 Edition)

Ho ho ho! Continuing a new tradition started last year, the writers at New England Soccer Today gathered around the fireplace, munched on gingerbread cookies and compiled this Revolution Christmas list with cheer.

A dangerous winger (Brian) – The mid-season signing of Monsef Zerka gave New England the cultured winger it lacked since the retirement of Steve Ralston. However, it appears the Moroccan international’s days in Foxboro are all but over after his option was declined last month. Unless Zerka is willing to sign for less, it appears the search for a quality option on the flank will resume this winter. That’s bad news for the Revs, who know that midfielders of Zerka’s caliber don’t grow on trees.

Stability in the back (Sean) – No one can deny the backline had more than its share of problems in 2011. The constant rotation at left back after the Revs waived Seth Sinovic, Didier Domi failed to stay healthy and was eventually cut and neither Darrius Barnes nor Chris Tierney could lock down the spot while playing out of position was perhaps the most obvious issue. For the second straight year the team also never found consistency at center back with injuries and lack of form forcing constant reshuffling between Barnes, A.J. Soares, Ryan Cochrane and Franco Coria. Kevin Alston at right back was the lone constant. In defense – where communication is perhaps more key than anywhere else – finding a solid starting back four and allowing it to build chemistry will be key. This also means finding true depth at every position so losing one player means just replacing that player directly, not shuffling the entire backline to compensate.

A game a Fenway Park (Brian) – Not long ago, the Revs were rumored to play a SuperLiga game at America’s Most Beloved Ballpark in tandem with the Sporting-Celtic Fenway Football Classic. Alas, the plans fell through and the game was eventually played at Gillette. Yet, that shouldn’t deter the organization from taking another shot at getting a game at Fenway. Not only would it be a tremendous event, but it would also bring some sure-fire exposure to a team that’s been overshadowed by the success of its wildly-popular counterparts. Revs-Red Bulls on Yawkey Way for a mid-summer tilt? Make it so, Mr. Kraft.

A veteran assistant coach (Sean) – Those who have talked to Jay Heaps know he has the right ideas for what this organization needs to do to move forward. There would be a lot more confidence in his ability to do so, however, if he had a veteran coach by his side. Someone with the knowledge and experience of former Revs assistant John Murphy – though he’s unlikely to leave his post at Clemson – would be ideal. If Heaps can come close to finding an assistant with the knowledge of the SuperDraft and scouting college players, putting players through useful drills in training and developing young talent that Murphy possesses, the Revs coaching staff will be in good shape heading into 2012.

Another Diego (Brian) – Or five, for that matter. Despite seeing only six games with the Revs, the 16-year-old helped recharge a lethargic attack. More than that, Fagundez became a marketing dream with his trademark fauxhawk and refreshingly mature demeanor. Although it may be rushing to judgment, Fagundez has the two most important attributes required for a superstar in the making: skill and charisma. For a club that lacks attacking talent and visibility amid an overcrowded sports scene, another player like Fagundez would give Revs some much-needed optimism on the field – and off of it, as well.

A complete roster on day one (Sean) – When’s the last time the Revs have entered a preseason with their roster basically complete? It certainly hasn’t been the case since the Revs last made the MLS Cup in 2007. While the current roster needs plenty of work to be competitive in 2012, it’s vital Heaps completes the roster as early as possible. Last year the Revs couldn’t find a new striker in Rajko Lekic till mid-April, and were still struggling to build their roster in August. With the season starting in early March this year, the Revs have even less time to get ready, so having a competitive roster in place from day one in preseason will be vital to the Revs being ready for First Kick 2012. Other teams in Major League Soccer (MLS) have already been making moves to bring in new players – and not just in the re-entry draft. The Revs would be wise to join them in their haste.

A review of last year’s Christmas list:

What we (eventually) got:
-New uniforms – They didn’t come until after the season, but better late than never.

What we’re still waiting on:
– A veteran center back – Ryan Cochrane proved to be the wrong answer for this role.
– A proven goal scorer
– A second stopper – Is Clyde Simms the solution?
– Soccer Specific Stadium
– Healthy 2011 – While perhaps not as bad as 2010, injuries again cause havoc in the backline.

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