And now, the resolution of The Bent Musket's 2011 season grades for the New England Revolution! Corey, Matty, and I have looked at the four major areas of the team - goalkeeping, defense, midfield, forwards - and assigned our grades on a 4.0 scale.
Unfortunately for the New England Revolution, we don't curve based on the rest of the league.
Without further ado, here are our grades for the Revolution forwards, who had serious difficulty last season justifying even being considered for that position. We discuss their performance and grade them after the jump.
Corey: The Revolution forward position this season was just an all-around bad dream. While attacking was the most glaring deficiency for the Revs at the beginning of the season, nothing really ever changed that by the end... our defensive troubles just became somehow even more problematic instead. First up is Rajko Lekic, who I have admittedly have been a critic of all year. With everything that has been coming out about him now that we're in the off-season, I think maybe I was a bit too hard on the guy. The hardest part of this season for Psycho was the Revs' inability to get him service into the box. Rajko has made it clear that his success depends on crosses, so it's really no wonder that he came up short of the expectations we all had for him. What's frustrating is that the club didn't seek out a striker who could make his own goals instead of a goal-poacher like Lekic.
Next up is Milton Caraglio, the Revolution's first "DP". Caraglio came in with a lot of a skill and clearly a great soccer mind, but just looked to be too out of shape to make an immediate impact. Unfortunately for us, what we really needed at that point was an immediate impact player; another shortcoming for the Revs scouting department. Nevertheless, Caraglio was a player who could make his own chances if he needed to and who was big and physical enough to hold up the ball in the attacking third. Those contributions were pretty key and I was looking forward to seeing all of that grow and develop in a Revolution uniform, but it looks like that ship has sailed.
Some of the other forwards we utilized are not really worth mentioning. Kenny Mansally is obviously quick, but he made some poor decisions and just wasn't much of a finisher. Zack Schilawski was much of the same, but not nearly as fast. He had perhaps the most disappointing season of any other Rev, in my eyes. Also, Kheli Dube had a pretty lost season due to his injury, so there's just not much to say about him. If our troubles with Lekic and Caraglio were just a bad dream, these guys were a nightmare.
Diego Fagundez was an exciting forward, particularly off the bench, but is not a very well-rounded player at the position just yet. As much as I want to get behind Fagundez playing as a forward, I don't think he is ready for that full-time responsibility, especially considering how physical MLS is. Though I'd certainly be willing to give him the chance and hope for the best.
The Revs need to step it up next year at this position if they want to win more than 5 games. There is clearly a lot of work to do, and with very few forwards even being on the roster as of January and no forward selections in the SuperDraft, the heavy lifting is going to have to start in the Supplemental Draft today. Let's hope the club can manage a big international signing at the position as well.
Overall grade: C-
Matty: The team actually began to score some goals later on in the year, and late season acquisition and first-ever "DP" Milton Caraglio is certainly a step in the right direction. After over a year off, you can see the rust in Caraglio's game, but you can also see the flashes of brilliance and quality. Unfortunately, he won't be returning next year, so he's no longer of concern to us.
Rajko Lekic is without a doubt an international man of mystery. You can call me a Lekic apologist. I truly feel that a large part of his lack of production was his lack of proper service from the midfield and wings. I'd like to see another year from him to truly get a read, but that is looking increasingly unlikely.
Diego Fagundez was a nice little story at the tail end of the season, and he even found his way onto the scoresheet, but the faith and hope Revs Nation put in a pint-sized 16 year old was almost comical. Nice player, obvious skills, way too young and under-sized. He needs to eat nothing but Happy Meals this offseason.
Is the Zack Schilawski experiment over yet? With two target strikers already on board, Schilawski's lack of scoring, and uncanny ability to disappear during the run of play might just keep him off of this team going into 2012.
Grade: C+ (Under protest, due to lack of midfield play)
Steve: The Revolution forward corps was the sorriest bunch of supposed-professionals in MLS last season. Legitimate excuses that include lack of creativity in the midfield, lack of service from the wings, and an insane propensity to go ultra-defensive as soon as the second half started certainly hindered their production last season, and for that the strikers cannot be blamed. But out of all the players who made appearances as forwards this season (there were six), a grand total of 13 goals registered on the scoresheet. The highest-scoring striker on the roster was Rajko Lekic with six goals, and he converted penalties toward the end of the season.
Strikers may need service to score, but those numbers are inexcusable. At the time of this writing, the Revolution look no better up front, beginning preseason with only Zack Schilawski, Diego Fagundez, and Ryan Kinne listed as forwards, and only Schilawski can really be considered a pure striker.
The Revs had the third-worst offense in MLS last season - only Toronto and Vancouver were worse. That means failure. I will be charitable and bump the grade up a letter to account for lack of service and poor tactical philosophy (it did take the team about two-thirds of the season to finally settle on a formation and system), but the strikers really don't deserve it.
Overall Grade: C-