The Revolution got back in the win column for the first time in over two months after Lee Nguyen led the way with two goals and an assist against Colorado. Kelyn Rowe added another to cap the scoring during Wednesday’s clash at Gillette Stadium.
While the Revolution were in the process of putting their losing streak behind them, the Red Bulls were matching wits with Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday. Joao Plata put the hosts on the board in the first half, but Thierry Henry’s second half blast secured an important road point for the Red Bulls.
Here’s what to watch for in a match that will feature two sides looking to rediscover the form that put them near the top of the conference prior to Memorial Day:
What a difference a win makes. With a short turnaround ahead of Saturday’s match, the Revolution won’t get the opportunity to savor Wednesday’s long-awaited win. That’s just as well, as they’ll look to use the momentum to enter Red Bull Arena more confident than they’ve been since Memorial Day weekend. In fact, defender Andrew Farrell alluded to the idea that what we saw on Wednesday could be a preview of coming attractions for the offense.
“This was a great game for us to get the win,” Farrell told the media on Thursday. “And I think some of our offensive guys are going to start clicking now.”
Can Nguyen continue to spur the offense? Following his man of the match performance on Wednesday, all eyes will be on Nguyen on Saturday. And with good reason. When Nguyen is at the top of his game, success is usually a given for the Revolution. Case in point: In games in which the shifty midfielder scribbles his name onto the score sheet, the Revolution are 5-1-1. No doubt they’ll need Nguyen to be at his best against a potent Red Bull attack.
Ready for Red Bull attack. New York enters Saturday’s match tied atop the goal-scoring charts with 39 goals in 21 games this year, and it’s no surprise how they got there. With leading scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips enjoying a breakout year, and Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill both playing at the top of their games, the Red Bulls are getting plenty of bang for their buck this season. Even so, defender Kevin Alston says the Revolution will be up for the challenge.
“It’s something you get excited for,” Alston told the media on Thursday. “When you’re a defender, you want to defend and you like the challenge, and what better challenge than New York? They got a good team and they’ve got some great weapons. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to try and stop them.”
Lineup changes on tap? Revolution coach Jay Heaps didn’t hesitate to make lineup changes during the course of his team’s losing streak. A combination of injuries, unimpressive results, and a trying July schedule (nine games in the last 35 days) all opened the door for a number of different combinations since late-May. Now, with a win in their back pocket and a well-deserved bye week approaching, it’ll be interesting to see what, if any, tweaks Heaps makes to the XI on Saturday.
Staying grounded. While there was plenty of excitement and joy to go around in the wake of Wednesday’s win, Revolution striker Charlie Davies was quick to mention that the battle is far from over. With August already upon us and the homestretch coming into view, points will become more important with each passing week. As such, Davies said the key to continuing their success is staying humble and level-headed.
“I think it’s very important that we don’t get too high after this win,” Davies said after Wednesday’s game. “You still have to keep an even keel and still know we have to get better. It’s important this Red Bull away match we continue to play the way we did tonight.”
But on Wednesday, they shifted from that approach by channeling the same energy from Saturday's game against the Columbus Crew to jump out to an early lead they built upon late in Wednesday's 3-0 win over the Colorado Rapids.
"I thought we came out again the right way," Heap said. "I thought it carried over well from Saturday, and we got good pressure and good commitment from everyone on the field."
That pressure was evident from the outset. With the Rapids missing leading scorer Deshorn Brown and reliable defender Shane O'Neill, the Revolution wasted no time going for the jugular against their weakened opponent.
In the 10th minute, a throw-in from Kevin Alston found a loosely marked Charlie Davies along the left. The Revolution striker immediately sent it central for Lee Nguyen, who took a few touches, then smacked a shot that Drew Moor inadvertently ushered into his own goal.
And just like that, the Revolution had pulled ahead of their opponent for the first time in more than two months, even if it required a little bit of help from the Rapids.
"It feels great just to have the lead," Nguyen said. "[We] didn't know what it felt like to have the lead for a little while, and it was good."
The goal may have been a positive development for the attack, which had scored only four goals over the course of the team's eight-game losing streak. While there were certainly more smiles seen from the likes of Davies, Nguyen and Kelyn Rowe, the early lead had a ripple effect on the rest of the team.
Instead of having to fight back from a deficit, which often put undue pressure on the team to respond, the Revolution were finally able to settle in and start calling their own shots. The defense linked with the midfielders with greater frequency, spurring more chances in the final third.
While the buzz around Gillette Stadium following Wednesday's match might have centered on the Revolution's three-goal outburst, Heaps pointed out how the improved defensive approach allowed his team to clean up the mistakes that had become commonplace in recent weeks.
"Everyone was locked in," Heaps said. "I think we've had a couple of those games with one mistake here, one mistake there [and] that really causes a problem. But I think tonight everyone was spot-on in how they approached the game defensively."
That brand of defense not only kept Colorado off the board going into the half -- the first time the Revolution had kept their opponent scoreless at the half since May 24 -- but it allowed the entire team to start squeezing the Rapids even more in the second half.
"The first 10 minutes [in the second half] are the most important," Davies said. "We didn't want to give them confidence to think, 'OK, we had a bad first half, but now, we can get back in the game.' We had to keep the ball, had to keep pushing it down their throats, and we were able to do that."
Feeding off the energy that allowed them to get on the board early, the Revolution continued to press the issue in the latter stages. Substitute Steve Neumann exploited a gap in the Rapids' defense and nearly broke through before a sharp elbow from Thomas Piermayr cut him down. From the spot of the foul, Nguyen curled a majestic free kick that bulged the netting in the upper 90 to widen the gap in the 75th minute.
"When you hit the ball as sweet as that, you really don't feel it coming off your foot," Nguyen said. "And that's when you know you hit it pretty well. It was a great feeling to go up 2-0 and be able to relax after that knowing we had a little bit of a cushion."
Three minutes later, it was Nguyen who played the role of setup man when he put a ball forward for Rowe, who pushed it through to put to rest any doubts about the team's ability to carry the positives from Saturday's loss and translate them into success four days later.
"I felt that, to be honest with you, the letdown from Saturday was big," Heaps said. "I'm proud of our guys for the quick turnaround. We were really prepared for tonight's match, and the guys were ready for that."
A 10th-minute Drew Moor own goal -- which came off a deflection of a Lee Nguyen shot -- gave the Revolution their first lead since Patrick Mullins opened the scoring in a 2-1 win May 24. No help was needed in the second half as Nguyen scored in the 75th minute, while Kelyn Rowe collected his first of the season in the 78th minute.
The Rapids finished the match with 10 men after Thomas Piermayr picked up his second caution and was sent off in the 74th minute.
The win snapped the Revolution's eight-game losing streak, one shy of tying the club record. The loss for Colorado kept the Rapids from collecting maximum points for the fourth time in five tries.
What it means: So that's what a Revolution win looks like. And an emphatic one, at that. The home supporters could be forgiven if Wednesday's victory felt unfamiliar. After more than two months passed without a win in league action, some wondered aloud what it would take for the Revolution to get back in the win column. The apparent answer: an own goal. We'll never know if Nguyen's shot would have found the back of the net even without Moor's intervention, but it was all the same for the Revolution. Not only did the goal put them up early, it also allowed them to turn the tables and tighten the grip defensively as the game progressed. With Colorado pressing, the Revolution exploited the gaps left behind, as evidenced by the lead-up to Nguyen's free-kick blast and Rowe's subsequent strike. The victory will leave the Revolution feeling much better about their current condition, to be sure. But it'll be interesting to see if they can turn it into something more as the season progresses into August.
Stat of the match: With the win, the Revolution improved their record to 7-0-0 when scoring the first goal of the game. They remain the only club in MLS with a perfect record in that department.
Scoreboard watch: The win puts the Revolution into a three-way tie with Columbus and Toronto for third place, pending the outcome of Wednesday's late game between New York and Salt Lake.
Heaps makes two changes to XI: With Chris Tierney out due to an MCL sprain, Kevin Alston was given the start at left back. Up top, Boston College alum Charlie Davies earned his second start of the season in place of Patrick Mullins.
Rapids without key players: Colorado coach Pablo Mastroeni brought his club to Foxborough without the services of goal scorer Deshorn Brown (groin), as well as key starters Jose Mari (ankle) and Shane O'Neill (knee). Taking their spots, respectively, were Edson Buddle, Kamani Hill and Thomas Piermayr.
Old mates meet again: Wednesday's matchup marked the first time Jay Heaps coached against first-year Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni in regular-season action. The two were teammates when both played for the now-defunct Miami Fusion from 1999 to 2001, and Heaps told the media on Monday that he and Mastroeni were roommates at one point during their time in Miami.
Different duds: For the first time this season, the Revolution sported their white uniforms at home during a league match. The switch was due to the fact that the Rapids, who donned their royal blue uniform, do not have a white or light-colored jersey in this year's set. As a result, the Revolution were forced to go with white duds rather their usual navy blue home uniforms.
Taking it on the road: The Revolution will head to the tri-state area on Saturday to face the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. On June 8, the Revolution dropped a 2-0 decision to the Red Bulls at Gillette Stadium.
The Revolution, who have dropped eight straight going into the midweek match, are one loss away from matching the team record of nine, which was set twice in 1997 and 1998. The current streak already is the club's longest during the post-shootout era (2000-present).
Their latest setback came at the hands of the Columbus Crew on Saturday after Ethan Finlay scored the game-winner for the guests in the 84th minute of a 2-1 victory. Adding to the Revolution’s misery: starting left back and set piece specialist Chris Tierney was forced to exit Saturday’s match early with an MCL sprain, which will keep him out of Wednesday’s game.
While the local XI have been streaking in the wrong direction, the Rapids have lost only once in their last five games (2-1-2). Their most recent success came last Friday in a 3-0 thrashing of Chivas USA. Nick LaBrocca’s 16th-minute goal proved to be all the Rapids needed to secure the victory.
With the home stretch approaching and points for both sides becoming more important with each passing week, here’s what to watch for on Wednesday.
No time to dwell on defeats. Ask any athlete and they’ll tell you the same thing: The best elixir to soothe the sting from losing is the opportunity to get back on the field ASAP. Fortunately for the Revolution, they won’t have to wait an entire week for another chance to reverse their recent woes. And with Wednesday's match taking place on their home turf, the Revolution really couldn’t ask for a much better scenario to put the losing streak out to pasture.
“I think it’s a good thing we have a game coming up quick,” Revolution center back A.J. Soares told reporters on Monday. “It just kind of gives us a chance to go out there without thinking too hard, and try to get back to just playing flowing football like we were doing when we were winning all those games.”
Can the Revolution take advantage of the injury-ravaged Rapids? Last week’s 3-0 victory was a fitting way to celebrate a night in which longtime player and current coach Pablo Mastroeni was honored at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. But any positive vibes the Rapids hoped to carry into Gillette Stadium on Wednesday diminished somewhat with the news that Deshorn Brown (groin), Jose Mari (ankle) and Shane O’Neill (knee) are unlikely to play due to injury. Coupled with the travel for a midweek match two time zones to the east, the Rapids look far from formidable heading into the match.
Rapids tough opponent to read. Although the Rapids won’t be able to field their strongest lineup, it would be a stretch to say that the task at hand will be easier for the Revolution. Quite the opposite. With at least three changes expected in the Rapids’ lineup, Revolution coach Jay Heaps surely is going to have to pay close attention to the film and scouting reports to prepare for a variety of different looks and/or approaches from Mastroeni’s side.
“You don’t know what you’re getting because they change their lineup so much,” Heaps told reporters on Monday. “Pablo is doing an excellent job there and he’s rotating the team, and they’ve got a depth of players to choose from.”
How will Tierney’s absence affect an already slumping offense? Chris Tierney has long been a steady member of the Revolution back four, and Heaps will be the first to admit it. But it was interesting to hear the Revolution coach emphasize Tierney’s importance to the attack. The left back’s crosses from the run of play and service on set pieces have been crucial to the team’s success in the final third. Without Tierney’s presence, Heaps will need others -- including Kelyn Rowe and Lee Nguyen -- to keep the attack from falling off the shelf completely.
Confidence hasn’t waned for Revolution. Normally, an eight-game losing streak would shake any team’s collective confidence. When the goals are scarce and the mistakes are commonplace, it’s easy for self-doubt to creep into the players’ and coaches’ minds. But according to Soares, the spirit inside the locker room is far from broken.
“I think you could see against Columbus, we played good soccer, we easily could have won the game, and unfortunately we didn’t,” Soares said. “But coming out of that game, we felt like we did enough to win, so it’s not a confidence issue.”
Parkhurst, who grew up Cranston, Rhode Island, supporting the Revolution, went on to play for his hometown club from 2005 to 2008. But on Saturday, the script was entirely different for the 29-year-old defender, who returned to Gillette Stadium for the first time in six-plus years -- but as a member of the Columbus Crew.
"It's good to be back," Parkhurst said after Saturday's 2-1 win for the Crew. "I've got a lot of family and friends here and a lot of good memories here for four good years, so it was nice to get back and see some people."
It was a warm homecoming to be certain for Parkhurst. According to the Crew captain, between 30 and 40 friends and family were on hand to watch him play his first game in Foxborough in nearly seven years.
But there was no time for reminiscing for Parkhurst on Saturday. In a match that both teams needed points from, the Crew captain was called upon to strengthen the backline, which was called upon to step up after the Revolution collected nine first-half corner kicks.
Not only did the Crew defense hold firm during the first half, but Parkhurst nearly factored into the scoring in the 65th minute. A corner kick from Federico Higuain -- who scored the Crew's first goal in the 44th minute -- found Parkhurst, who quickly played it to Chad Barson. Using a nifty back heel, Barson nearly slid it through before Lee Nguyen ushered it away from the line to keep it a 1-1 match.
"I just reacted and I think I got a knee on it," Parkhurst said. "Chad did well on it to get a back heel because he was facing away from the goal, but yeah, it's unlucky I guess."
Unlucky or not, the Crew eventually claimed the game winner in the 84th minute when Justin Meram found Ethan Finlay on a well-timed run into the box, where he slotted it through. The win was the Crew's second straight after stumbling through a seven-game winless streak during the early part of the summer.
"It was a big game," Parkhurst said. "[It was] two teams that have been struggling as of late, so it was an important three points for us."
Even though Parkhurst wasn't the only one in the Crew locker room savoring the road win, the former Revolution supporter and player couldn't help but harbor some empathy for the team across the hall.
"I feel for New England and what they're going through right now because we just went through it as well; it's tough," Parkhurst said. "But for us it's great, we've got to build some momentum and we're starting to do that."
After Federico Higuain smashed a 44th-minute free kick into the back of the net, the Revolution had two choices: Let the goal negatively affect them, or regroup and find a way to respond.
Although a late Ethan Finlay goal sent the Crew to a 2-1 win, the Revolution managed to fight their way back from Higuain’s goal and, at times, contest for the lead in front of the Foxborough faithful.
“Obviously, it was a tough way to go in at halftime after we broke the game plan a little bit,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. “With that being said, I think that we came in with the right energy after halftime.”
Higuain’s goal marked the eighth straight occasion in which the Revolution conceded the opening goal to their opponent. In recent weeks, those goals put the team on its heels as replies of any kind were hard to find.
But on Saturday, Heaps’ team figured out a way to answer back for the first time since a July 4 contest in Salt Lake.
Five minutes after halftime, the Revolution renewed their efforts in the final third. A Patrick Mullins pass found Kelyn Rowe, who cut into the box and fired a shot that Steve Clark managed to get enough of to steer wide of the frame.
At first blush, it appeared that if Rowe couldn’t score on such a tempting opportunity, then there would be no chance at all for the Revolution to find the response needed to match wits with the Crew.
But on the subsequent corner kick, Rowe uncorked an outswinger that A.J. Soares met at the near post to score the goal that proved elusive in the first half.
“That goal from A.J. was big time,” Revolution midfielder Teal Bunbury said. “It lifted all of our spirits, and I think in our mind we thought, ‘Hey we’re going to win this game now, no question.’”
The equalizer certainly lifted the Revolution’s spirits immediately after. They tipped the possession scale in their favor in the 10 minutes that followed. Their intent to secure another goal was impossible to overlook.
At the forefront of that effort was none other than Diego Fagundez, who’s attacking prowess had waned during the Revolution’s recent slide. The creative winger found plenty of opportunities to operate in the flank space the Crew left behind by their fullbacks.
“Diego is the type of player that needs service, and he needs to help along the way,” Heaps said. “I think guys were looking for him a little more tonight, and he was getting more of the ball.”
And when Fagundez wasn’t pushing the issue, he was keeping the Crew at bay not once, but twice. Successive corner kicks from Higuian allowed Tony Tchani and Bernardo Anor free headers at the near post. But each one was cleared off the line by Fagundez, who dutifully guarded the post both times.
Despite their best efforts, the Revolution still needed a goal to get their first lead since late May. A lead that, coupled with sound defense, would finally put their losing streak to rest.
But their search put them in a vulnerable position in the 84th minute. Only moments after he entered the match, Justin Meram caught the pressing Revolution flatfooted when he put a pass ahead to Finlay. The Crew midfielder proceeded to beat Darrius Barnes -- the last defender -- before he fired it into the back of the net for the winner.
Although the Revolution’s energy and effort was never in question, the one area where the Revolution continued to come up short on Saturday was all too evident: execution.
“We had some chances that we did not finish,” Heaps said. “Eventually, it came down to one or two of those chances that could have helped us win the game.”
For the eighth straight game, the Revolution allowed the first goal of the game, with Federico Higuain doing the honors in the 44th minute. A.J. Soares leveled it in the 50th minute, but Ethan Finlay’s 84th-minute goal kept the Revolution from getting the win.
The loss extended the Revolution’s losing streak to eight, while the Crew collected their second straight win.
Scoreboard watch: The draw dropped the Revolution (7-11-2, 23 points) to sixth in conference, while the Crew (6-7-8, 26 points) jumped to the fifth spot.
What it means: Higuain’s goal before the interval was further proof of how cruel the game can be. The Revolution came out of the gate with guns blazing and pressed the issue early. By the 22nd minute, they’d already earned nine corner kicks and were carrying the better of play in the final third. Shots from Teal Bunbury and Diego Fagundez offered early hope to the Foxborough faithful, who hadn’t witnessed their team claim three points in more than two months. But the hosts’ first-half efforts simply weren’t enough when Higuain drilled a 25-yard free kick into the upper 90 to kill any hope the Revolution harbored of going into the half on level terms.
Whatever coach Jay Heaps said at halftime seemed to work as Soares’ header tied the match in the 50th minute. Yet the Crew responded with a flourish in the waning stages, and Finlay exploited a hole in the Revolution defense when he tallied the game-winner late. At this juncture of the season, the Revolution must find a way to put forth a complete effort on both ends of the pitch, lest the postseason race pass them by.
Stat of the match: Soares’ equalizer was the first goal the Revolution scored off a corner kick this season.
Parkhurst returns to Foxborough: Former Revolution center back Michael Parkhurst made his first appearance at Gillette Stadium in six years as a member of the Crew. The Providence, Rhode Island native was drafted by the Revolution in 2005 and earned Rookie of the Year honors at the end of the season. Two years later, he picked up Defender of the Year, the first Revolution player to win the award. Following the 2008 season, he signed with Danish side Nordsjælland.
Caldwell gets nod at six spot: Scott Caldwell earned a second straight start at holding midfielder on Saturday. Last week, Caldwell claimed the spot with A.J. Soares serving a one-game ban for the red card received in the Revolution’s 5-1 loss to Los Angeles on July 16. Soares returned to his usual spot at center back.
Tierney exits early with injury: Chris Tierney’s night came to a premature end near the 20th minute after he suffered a left knee injury. The knock forced coach Jay Heaps to send in Darrius Barnes to replace the veteran left back.
Imbongo makes rare cameo: Rarely used striker Dimitry Imbongo made only his second appearance of the season when he came on for Patrick Mullins in the 68th minute. Imbongo’s last action in league play came in a 0-0 draw vs. Vancouver on March 22.
Short turnaround ahead: The Revolution will get a brief break before they return to the field on Wednesday when they face the Colorado Rapids at Gillette. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Last year, the Rapids claimed a 2-1 win over the Revolution on July 17 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
It will be the first time Parkhurst, who played for the Revolution from 2005 to 2008, will face his former club. During his four years in New England, the Providence, R.I., native was named 2005 Rookie of the Year and 2007 MLS Defender of the Year.
The Revolution enter the match a frustrated bunch after dropping seven straight, a streak that stretches back to late-May. Their most recent loss came at the hands of FC Dallas, who beat the local XI 2-0 last Saturday at FC Dallas Stadium.
Similarly, the Crew’s season has hit the rocks in recent weeks. Although they claimed a 2-1 win over the Impact last Saturday at Crew Stadium, it was their first victory in eight tries going back to mid-May.
Meanwhile, coach Gregg Berhalter was afforded the opportunity to test his team’s depth in Wednesday’s 2-2 draw to EPL side Crystal Palace.
With both sides looking to put their struggles behind them, here’s what to watch for on Saturday:
Can Revs contain Higuain? It’s no secret that the best way to diffuse the Crew offense is to take Federico Higuain out of the picture. Of course, doing so is easier said than done. The creative Argentine is one of the league’s most technical players. What’s more, his uncanny knack for playing the right pass on a regular basis allows teammates like Ethan Finley (4 goals, 2 assists) and Bernardo Anor (4 goals, 14 shots on goal) to do some of the heavy lifting in the final third.
“Higuain is always an important player for what they’re doing,” coach Jay Heaps said earlier this week. “He’s in a nice elusive role underneath their striker.”
Once again, who starts at holding midfielder? For the fourth time in less than a month, uncertainty surrounds the six spot. Last week, Scott Caldwell filled the void while A.J. Soares served his red-card suspension. But earlier this week, Heaps hinted that the opponent’s strengths will dictate who starts from game to game. Given the need to stop Higuain, Heaps might be tempted to go with the grittier Soares over the creatively-inclined Caldwell this week.
Execution in final third must improve. It’s not for lack of chances that the Revolution attack has sputtered in recent weeks. The team ranks second in the conference in total shots per game (14) and shots on target (4.8). Clearly, creating the opportunity isn’t the issue. What’s plaguing the Revolution is their startling inability to beat the opposing keeper, as their scant 0.43 goals/game average would indicate.
“We have to finish,” Revolution forward Charlie Davies said earlier this week. “We have to be more effective and efficient, but it’s there. We proved it in the beginning of the season, and I think that at the end of the year, all this pain and agony of the past seven games will really help us for the playoff push.”
Will Davies get another start up top? In response to a dreadful performance in a 5-1 loss to the Galaxy, Heaps made a number of changes to his lineup last Saturday. The most notable: starting the rarely-used Davies up top. Although the offense as a whole continued to struggle in the 2-0 loss, the forward’s individual performance was promising. He drew a team-high three fouls and connected on 92 percent of his passes. But whether those numbers are enough to warrant a second start remains to be seen.
Home cooking the remedy? No one would call the Revolution’s recent two-game road trip a leisurely excursion. As if a cross-country flight to Los Angeles for a midweek match against the streaking Galaxy wasn’t tough enough, the Revolution went right back to airport to face FC Dallas three days later. Although travel shouldn’t be used as an excuse for getting outscored 7-1 during the trip, Revolution defender Darrius Barnes is embracing the opportunity to use a week’s rest and home-field advantage to jump-start the club on Saturday.
“I feel like there’s no better place to snap that losing streak than to come home and do it,” Barnes told revolutionsoccer.net on Thursday. “I think the team’s spirits are still high. Even though we’re a little more than halfway through the season, and we’re not playing the way we want to, we’re in a decent spot in the table.”
Parkhurst, who spent four years in New England (2005-2008) before departing for Danish side FC Nordsjaelland, returned to MLS in January. But even though the Revolution had the first crack at signing the 2007 MLS Defender of the Year, the organization took a different course of action.
“At the time, you’re trying to assess the situation for what it is,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. “Where we were with our back line, where we were from a salary cap standpoint, and where we were in the draft, all three of those things weighed into getting a first-round pick and getting a significant amount of money.”
With center back Jose Goncalves coming off a Defender of the Year-caliber campaign, and the amount of money the club invested to bring him back for a second season, the front office decided to trade Parkhurst, who would be commanding $300,000 for the 2014 season.
In addition to saving on costs, the trade netted them additional funds in the form of allocation money, as well as Steve Neumann -- who the Revolution drafted with the fourth overall pick.
Heaps, who played on the same back line as Parkhurst for four years, said he wasn’t excited at the prospect of trading away his former teammate.
“He’s a great player and someone that was a teammate of mine,” Heaps saId. “He’s someone that I respect all the way around. Those decisions are never easy, but you try to weigh them to the best of your ability at the time.”
Soares at holding midfielder?
Earlier this month, the Revolution were forced into a corner after starting midfielder Andy Dorman was suspended due to yellow card accumulation. And the player who stepped in to fill the void certainly raised some eyebrows.
Although Scott Caldwell spent much of last season inhabiting the holding midfielder’s spot, Heaps went against the grain. Instead of Caldwell, Heaps tabbed center back A.J. Soares despite the fact that the fourth-year defender had never played the position during his professional career.
“You try and find the right pieces that we feel is best for each game,” Heaps said, “and usually game tactics and where we feel the player could best benefit (are factored).”
To date, Soares has filled the holding midfielder’s spot twice: at Salt Lake (July 4) and at Los Angeles (July 16) after Dorman was shelved with an MCL sprain. Soares received a red card during the 5-1 loss at Los Angeles, allowing Caldwell to reclaim his spot, at least temporarily, at Dallas last Saturday.
On paper, another candidate who appeared to be a possible replacement was center back Stephen McCarthy, who entered the league as a holding midfielder as a rookie in 2011. However, he said he hasn’t had discussions with Heaps about reprising the role.
But even though the notion hasn’t been discussed in light of Dorman’s injury, Heaps didn’t dismiss the possibility of putting McCarthy into the role at some point in the future.
“We always assess a lot of those roles and it also matters how a player’s playing, the form their in and what they can bring physically at the time, and where they are in our assessment,” Heaps said.
Davies would love to play at Fenway
Revolution forward Charlie Davies will be at Wednesday’s Liverpool-AS Roma friendly at Fenway Park, and is interested to see how the dynamics of playing on a baseball field play out for the European powerhouses.
When asked what he thinks about the idea of playing at the historic ballpark with his Revolution teammates, the Manchester, N.H., native gave his full support.
“I think it’d be awesome to see how that would work out,” Davies said. “Fenway Park is legendary. I think it’d be an awesome thing to have once a season.”
Three days after watching his side get thrashed by the Galaxy, coach Jay Heaps made five changes to his starting XI. Exit Jose Goncalves, A.J. Soares, Kelyn Rowe, Diego Fagundez and Patrick Mullins. Enter Stephen McCarthy, Darrius Barnes, Scott Caldwell, Steven Neumann and Charlie Davies.
While the switches didn’t exactly clear the path to three points, Heaps nevertheless was pleased with what he saw from those who were called into action in Saturday’s 2-0 loss to FC Dallas.
“I think the guys that we inserted added a nice level of intensity,” Heaps told reporters after the match. “In that regard, we were happy, but just absolutely gutted by the result.”
The loss may have sent the Revolution to their seventh straight trip to the loss column, but it wasn’t for lack of energy or ambition, two things missing during Wednesday’s 5-1 drubbing. Heaps’ squad opened the match with a measured and precise approach, putting Dallas on its heels early.
Between the fifth and 10th minutes, the guests grabbed 70.4 percent of the possession. With the passing crisp and the tempo calm, it was all but a certainty that an early goal would come.
But that goal would belong to the hosts. Off a quick restart in the middle third, Adam Moffat played it forward to Tesho Akindele, who ripped a shot of the crossbar. Andres Escobar quickly reclaimed the ball, went to the near post and buried it as the Revolution conceded the opening goal in their seventh straight game.
“Quite frankly, I didn’t think it was a foul on our guy,” Heaps said of Lee Nguyen’s foul that led to the quick restart. “I thought it was a foul on their guy -- ball was moving and they played it quickly, and credit the play -- one ball through, and then they stayed in that positive way, and it was a good goal.”
Escobar’s goal could have sent the Revolution into another early tailspin. Instead, they recommitted their efforts, despite a number of frustrating moments in the final third.
“I thought we were going to be good enough to get something from the game, and we didn’t,” Heaps said. “But that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
New England continued to take care of the ball and moved it around the midfield with greater frequency. It was a stark departure from Wednesday’s match.
But energy and effort weren’t enough to get the Revolution over the hump. Their form in the final third only betrayed their efforts. Although the Revolution tipped the overall possession in their favor (55.4 percent), Dallas outshot them 24-9. More importantly, two of those 24 found the back of the net.
No doubt, it was a markedly improved showing for the Revolution. A late surge tested the Dallas back four, but the only goal that came belonged to the hosts after Akindele scored in the 91st minute.
“In terms of what we did tonight, in terms of energy and effort, it was a great bounce back for us,” Heaps said. “We made one mistake in the first half, and we got punished for it.”
Andres Escobar became the latest to victimize the Revolution early and scored his second goal of the season in the 29th minute. Tesho Akindele put the game away in the 90+2 minute with his second goal of the season. Goalkeeper Raul Fernandez was barely tested and collected his first clean sheet of the season.
The Revolution have now lost seven straight, the longest streak in MLS this season. The win extends Dallas' unbeaten streak to five (3-0-2).
What it means: After posting one of their worst all-around performances Wednesday, the Revolution cleaned up many of the mistakes that plagued them in Los Angeles. Early on, they looked comfortable, with the panicked play seen Wednesday nothing more than a fading memory. But it wasn't all butterflies and rainbows for the Revolution. A quick Dallas restart paved the way for Escobar to put it past Bobby Shuttleworth at the near post, while the Revolution offense struggled to file a reply. Simply put, the Revolution lacked the execution in the final third to test Fernandez, who needed just three easy saves to seal the victory for Dallas. About the only thing working in the Revolution's favor at the present moment is a home date against the floundering Crew (0-3-4 in the past seven) on Saturday.
Stat of the match: Steve Neumann fired the Revolution's first shot on goal in the 83rd minute, a surefire sign of his squad's struggles inside the final third.
Heaps rolls out revamped lineup: Three days after watching his side suffer a 5-1 loss in Los Angeles, Revolution coach Jay Heaps made a number of changes to the starting XI for Saturday's match. Among the most notable included the additions of Stephen McCarthy (center back), Steve Neumann (outside midfielder) and Charlie Davies (striker), all of whom earned their first starts of the season. Meanwhile, Scott Caldwell (defensive midfielder) saw his name penciled into the lineup for the first time since March 15.
On the flip side, hamstring tightness kept Jose Goncalves on the bench, while AJ Soares served his red card suspension. Patrick Mullins, Kelyn Rowe and Diego Fagundez were not listed on the injury report and were presumably dropped from the lineup following their unspectacular performances Wednesday.
Tierney serves as captain: With Goncalves unable to start, veteran left back Chris Tierney wore the armband against FC Dallas. It was the first time Tierney had served as captain since March 15 at Philadelphia.
Back to Foxborough: The Revolution will be back home on July 26, when they host old friend Michael Parkhurst and the Columbus Crew. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. The contest will be Parkhurst's first against the Revolution, who drafted him in the first round of the 2005 SuperDraft. The Providence, Rhode Island, native spent four years in New England (2005-08), where he won Rookie of the Year (2005) and Defender of the Year (2007) before departing for an opportunity abroad with Danish side Nordsjælland.
The Revolution enter Saturday’s match anxious to erase the memories of a 5-1 thrashing they took from the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday at the StubHub Center. The match not only extended the team’s losing streak to six, but the five goals conceded marked the most the Revolution have given up in more than four years.
On the flip side, Dallas is not only unbeaten in its past four (2-0-2), but will be well-rested going into Saturday’s match. In their last league match back on July 4, the Hoops grabbed a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Union in front of the home crowd.
With the Revolution anxious to end their streak, and Dallas aiming to extend its run, here’s what to watch for during Saturday’s clash in FC Dallas Stadium.
Tired legs not the primary concern for Revolution: Saturday’s duel with Dallas will be the third game of an eight-day span that will see the Revolution rack up nearly 11,000 air miles before they return back to Boston. Naturally, coach Jay Heaps will need to manage his team accordingly. But according to the third-year coach, the bigger challenge is getting his players’ minds off of Wednesday’s loss.
“It’s more psychological,” Heaps told the media on Friday. “Everyone was down after the game, and rightfully so. We should be, because it was a terrible performance across a lot of sectors. Today, it was more about anger, more about getting back up and saying ‘Let’s get back after it.’”
Who’ll get the call at defensive midfielder?: For the second straight game, Heaps will be forced to shuffle his lineup to accommodate the gaping hole at the six spot. After Andy Dorman suffered an MCL sprain in last weekend’s contest against Chicago, A.J. Soares was given the start on Wednesday. But a 29th-minute red card will make Soares a bystander for Saturday’s match while he serves his one-match ban. Without Dorman or Soares available, Heaps could tab Scott Caldwell, who manned the holding midfielder’s spot last year, against Dallas. Another option: defender Andrew Farrell, who saw time at the spot during the preseason.
Opportunity on the horizon for reserves?: With many regulars already weary from the travel, as well as the high-paced tempo of Wednesday’s match, Heaps will likely ask his some of his backups to step up on Saturday. After watching his defense get torched for five goals, Heaps might call upon defenders Kevin Alston and Stephen McCarthy to strengthen the rear. In the midfield, substitute Steve Neumann may have played himself into consideration for a start. Up top, Jerry Bengtson and Charlie Davies may be in line for minutes given the lack of production seen from Patrick Mullins as of late.
“You’re always trying to find the right pieces,” Heaps said. “But at the same time, there are guys who deserve an opportunity because certain guys aren’t getting it done.”
Will Heaps go with the 4-4-2 formation again?: Looking for any opportunity to provide his team with a much-needed spark, Heaps scrapped the customary 4-1-4-1 for the more traditional 4-4-2 formation on Wednesday. While the early returns weren’t exactly positive, the early red card to Soares robbed the Revolution of an opportunity to get fully acclimated to it. Whether Heaps sticks with the four-man midfield, or reverts back to a five-man look, all depends upon who mans the six spot. If it’s Caldwell, expect the Revolution to return to the 4-1-4-1. If it’s Farrell, the 4-4-2 may get another look on Saturday.
Keeping the right perspective: A six-game losing streak isn’t exactly a confidence booster by any means, but to say that the season is doomed for the Revolution is a stretch. Despite their recent woes, the Revolution remain above the red playoff line. Plus, with plenty of parity in the East this year, the conference standings have remained in flux for much of the season. Sure, the Revolution haven’t exactly performed like contenders in recent weeks. But it’s far too early to start making funeral arrangements.
“There’s a lot of games left to play, so you just have to stay positive,” Nguyen told the media on Friday. “You just have to keep pushing through and know that you just have to keep fighting.”
With Andy Dorman sidelined for the next 10-12 weeks, and New England's offense struggling to score since late May, the Revolution coach scrapped the 4-1-4-1 formation in favor of a 4-4-2 against one of the hottest teams in the league -- and at their home park.
But even though the tactical switch yielded a handful of chances in the first half, the second half proved to be another story for the Revolution, who were forced to stomach a 5-1 loss at the StubHub Center.
"We practice it and thought it was a good time to try a 4-4-2 with a diamond shape," Heaps told the media after the match. "With the personnel we had, we thought there were times in the game early on where we had chances in the run of play."
The first opportunity the Revolution found came in the eighth minute when Lee Nguyen played it quick off a restart inside the Galaxy end, finding Teal Bunbury, who chipped Jaime Penedo before A.J. DeLaGarza cleared it off the line.
But after Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes tallied in the 10th and 18th minutes, respectively, the game was quickly slipping out of the Revolution's grasp. Making matters worse: a 29th-minute red card to AJ Soares left the guests with 10 men.
With nothing to lose, the Revolution caught the Galaxy on their back heel in the 36th minute. Diego Fagundez guided a perfect ball into the path of Bunbury, who briefly corralled it inside the box before he was brought down by Dan Gargan. A penalty was awarded, and Gargan was sent off, giving the Revolution new life.
After Nguyen converted the penalty, the Revolution had to feel good about their chances for the second half. Sure, Soares' ejection sealed the new formation's fate before the half-hour mark. But according to Kelyn Rowe, the squad's spirits were high going into halftime.
"There was a little momentum swing at the end of the first half," Rowe told the media after the match. "We came in here thinking we can put some tactics together of where we want to play, and how we want to play with 10 men, 10-on-10, and we looked to go find another goal, because we needed to."
But dialing up the appropriate shape for the second half proved to be elusive. Three minutes after the break, Zardes scored his second goal to reclaim his team's two-goal lead in the 48th minute. And it didn't get much better for the guests from there.
The Revolution searched for answers, but they were nowhere to be found. Stefan Ishizaki's 75th-minute strike padded the lead, while Keane's second in the 78th minute only served to humiliate the Revolution further.
"We tried to find that first goal coming out of the second half and it didn't happen," Rowe said, "and from there you are chasing the game again, further and further, and pushing numbers. Obviously when you push numbers, you are susceptible to the counter, and they took advantage of that and put five on us."
While the first-half red cards posed an unexpected challenge for both coaches, Heaps said that the revamped formation wasn't the reason behind his team's poor showing on Wednesday.
"Our forwards did a good job battling," Heaps said. "But defensively, if you are going to leak goals, it doesn't matter what formation you are in."
Robbie Keane opened the scoring in the 10th minute and capped it in the 78th minute, while Gyasi Zardes also found the back of the net twice, in the 18th and 48th minutes. Stefan Ishizaki joined Keane and Zardes on the scoresheet with a goal of his own in the 75th minute. The lone measure of success from the guests came on a Lee Nguyen 38th-minute strike from the spot after Teal Bunbury was brought down inside the box by Dan Gargan.
A.J. Soares was sent off in the 29th minute, while Gargan was issued a red card of his own in the 37th minute for denying Bunbury of a goal-scoring opportunity in the play that led to Nguyen’s penalty strike. As a result, both sides finished with 10 men.
With the loss, the Revolution remain stuck on 23 points (7-9-2), where they’ve been since late May, while the Galaxy ran their mark to 7-3-6 and extended their unbeaten streak to eight (5-0-3).
What it means: The first-half gremlins that have haunted the Revolution since late May were back on Wednesday, with two goals falling into New England’s net before the 20th minute. Nguyen’s goal gave his squad a dose of hope going into halftime, but Zardes’ second goal of the game put the Galaxy back in command, with Ishizaki and Keane piling it on late. Prior to the match, the Revolution spoke about approaching Wednesday’s match with a clean slate, as it coincided with the start of the second half of the regular season. Yet it’s safe to say that the Revolution are going to need much more than a renewed mindset to shake off their slumping form, which has seen them drop from the top of the conference to teetering on the red playoff line.
Stat of the match: The 5-1 loss marked the second time this season the Revolution have suffered a four-goal margin of defeat. In the season opener, the Houston Dynamo handed the Revolution a 4-0 loss.
New-look Revolution: After watching his squad’s offense produce only two goals in their last five games, Revolution coach Jay Heaps decided to switch to a 4-4-2 formation against the Galaxy. The most notable changes within the formation: a diamond midfield that featured Diego Fagundez as the central attacking midfielder, while Patrick Mullins as paired with Teal Bunbury up top.
Soares takes over for Dorman at D-Mid: With Andy Dorman shelved for at least the next 10-12 weeks with an MCL sprain, A.J. Soares filled in at defensive midfielder for the second time in the Revolution’s last three games. The fourth-year center back earned his first start in the midfield on July 4 at Salt Lake, a game that Dorman was forced to sit out due to suspension. But Soares’ night came to a premature end after he was red carded for a studs-up challenge on Juninho in the 29th minute.
Nguyen returns and scores: Revolution leading scorer Lee Nguyen was back in the lineup on Wednesday after missing last week’s match against the Fire while serving a one-game suspension. Nguyen was suspended for stomping on John Stertzer during the Revolution’s 2-1 loss to Salt Lake on July 4. But in his first game back from the ban, Nguyen collected his team-leading sixth goal of the season.
On to Big D: The Revolution will look to get back in the saddle on Saturday against FC Dallas at FC Dallas Stadium. Kickoff is set for 9 p.m. ET. The interconference clash will mark the only time the MLS originals will meet during the regular season. Last year, the Revolution dropped a 1-0 home loss to Dallas on March 30.
The Revolution enter the match reeling from a five-game losing streak, with their latest setback coming in a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Fire last Saturday. The loss not only prolonged the Revolution’s misery, but also brought their mark below .500 (7-8-2, 23 points).
While the Revolution find themselves in choppy waters, it’s been smooth sailing for the Galaxy, who enter Wednesday’s match unbeaten in their last seven (4-0-3). Last Saturday, they edged Salt Lake 1-0 in a game that saw Marcelo Sarvas score the winner in the 20th minute.
The midweek match will mark the first time since last June that the MLS originals have met. Revolution supporters remember the match fondly, as their squad blasted the defending champions 5-0 at Gillette Stadium.
Here’s what to watch for in a contest that’ll pit two squads currently traveling on opposite routes within their respective conferences:
Putting the past behind them. How does a team that’s lost its last five overcome its struggles? Well, one approach is to focus on the future, which is exactly what the Revolution are doing in their preparations for Wednesday’s contest. With the second half of the season upon them, their clash against the Galaxy is being viewed in the same light as a season opener rather than a run-of-the-mill midseason battle.
“Obviously, we’ve had some results that we’re not proud of,” Revolution forward Patrick Mullins told revolutionsoccer.net on Monday. “But I think we’re going to scratch and claw to make sure that we get the results that we need going into the last half of the season.”
Life without Dorman. One of the keys to the Revolution’s success prior to their recent struggles was the stout play of Andy Dorman, who brought much-needed bite to the six spot this season. But after suffering a potential season-ending MCL sprain during last weekend’s match, the Revolution have no choice but to make due without their steady veteran. Sophomore midfielder Scott Caldwell is the favorite to slide into Dorman’s spot, while center backs A.J. Soares and Andrew Farrell may both figure into the equation as well. Regardless of who steps in at holding midfielder, Dorman’s performance during the first half will be a tough act to follow.
Galaxy a clear and present danger. For all the talk about Galaxy poster boys Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan, the fact is that Bruce Arena’s club is one of the most balanced sides in the west. Sure, Keane and Donovan have combined for 10 goals and 8 assists so far this season. But don’t overlook the Galaxy defense, which is allowing less than a goal per game this season. With solid contributions coming from both ends of the pitch, it should come as no surprise that their plus-7 goal differential is second only to the plus-11 number owned by first-place Seattle.
“They’re a quality team,” Mullins said. “They’ve got great attacking players that can hit you all over the field, with Keane up top obviously is the main guy you’d focus on.”
Will Bengston be back for more? Not a whole lot went right for the Revolution during their 1-0 loss to the Fire last weekend, but there were positives to be drawn. One of the most notable was the performance of high-priced, yet rarely-used striker Jerry Bengtson, who came on in the 65th minute to help spur the offense. And that’s precisely what he did. Lurking in the final third, the Honduran created opportunities for his teammates in the waning stages, not the least of which was drawing an 84th-minute penalty. Though the Revolution failed to convert from the spot, Bengtson nevertheless made a strong case for additional minutes.
Embracing the underdog role. Prior to the season, the Revolution were the trendy pick for playoff success. With plenty of young talent and a system that played to their strengths, many were predicting big things for the local XI this season. To no one’s surprise, the club’s five-game losing streak has quieted the praise, which is just fine for the club’s youngest player, Diego Fagundez.
“Nobody’s talking about us right now,” Fagundez told revolutionsoccer.net on Monday. “But we just have to go out there, play our hardest, make sure we’re there to play and make sure we get some points from there.”