New England Soccer Today

Midfield Shines in Tucson Opener

Rookie Kelyn Rowe showed Wednesday why he and the Revs new midfield may finally be the cure for the Revs predictable attack of recent years. (Photo: Chris Aduama/

The last time the New England Revolution scored three goals in a winning effort came 10 months ago in a 3-2 victory over Sporting Kansas City. Sure, Wednesday night’s 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy was just a preseason match against a weakened opponent, but the similarities between the two matches don’t stop at the score line.

That April 23rd victory at Gillette Stadium was perhaps the Revs most promising of the 2011 season. Newly acquired Benny Feilhaber got his first – and only – chance to link up with creative attacker Marko Perovic and the Revs offense thrived.

With the midfield firing on all cylinders the Revs shredded apart the Kansas City defense for three goals, including a beautiful combination between Feilhaber and Perovic to open the scoring, and the team looked ready to turn their season around. For various reasons, the most obvious being Perovic’s injury sustained in that game and subsequent departure from the team, the impressive play didn’t last beyond that match.

Ten months later, the Revs 3-2 victory over the Galaxy to open the FC Tucson Desert Diamond wasn’t quite as pretty, but still showed plenty of promise from new head coach Jay Heaps’ midfield to again build hope heading into the 2012 season. This time it was rookie Kelyn Rowe whose skill provided a creative partner for Feilhaber in midfield.

It was Rowe who would power the Revs attack early, sending dangerous service into the box and helping to pave the way for Feilhaber’s stunning second minute bicycle kick goal to open the scoring. If Perovic’s early opener against Kansas City was one of the Revs best goals of 2011, Feilhaber’s strike has to already be the leading candidate for best strike of 2012.

But Rowe wasn’t done. In the 36th minute, Rowe delivered a perfect corner kick for Colombian center back John Lozano to head in for the Revs second goal of the match.

Coincidently, the Revs second strike last season against Kansas City came off a Kenny Mansally set piece that set up captain Shalrie Joseph for a header. Mansally is currently away on international duty with Gambia.

Of course those two plays were hardly Rowe’s only contributions. The rookie sent in his fair share of dangerous service into the box all night, while also testing Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders himself on a couple occasions.

The combination of Rowe and Feilhaber proved a handful for the Galaxy, but it wasn’t just the two creative attackers who impressed in the midfield. Joseph played the full 90 minutes, continuing to show his strength, while Clyde Simms proved a powerful partner for the Revs captain in the middle.

Even the second half subs made an impact in midfield. Supplemental pick Alec Purdie, who was a 74th minute replacement for Rowe, wasted no time in making his mark. The unsigned rookie streaked down the field just seconds after entering before finding trialist Jeremiah White, playing at right midfield, in space on the right to slot in the winning goal.

In 2011, it was a role player, much as Purdie could be for the team in 2012, in Zak Boggs who set up former Revs striker Rajko Lekic late from the right flank for the game-winning third goal in the 3-2 victory over Kansas City.

None of this is to say the Revs are ready to take the 2012 MLS season by storm – the 2011 team fell apart after their impressive showing on April 23rd. And on Wednesday, the defense, missing Kevin Alston and A.J. Soares had its fair share of problems against a shorthanded Galaxy attack. Additionally, while Saër Sène showed promise up top, the Revs still haven’t found his partner in the attack.

But if the short lived two-headed creative midfield presence of Perovic and Feilhaber promised to provide the answer to the Revs all too one dimensional attack in 2011, the addition of Rowe might just offer that much needed extra midfield offensive presence to complement Feilhaber and truly give the Revs a multi-dimensional attack in 2012.

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