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In dire need of some Revs therapy after missing the playoffs yet again, I've turned to the FIFA13 career mode to start fresh under the guise of a digital Jay Heaps and how I think he will approach next season. So far, I'm wildly optimistic.
Like most of you, I like to play FIFA. Sadly, I don't get to play all that much. But when I do find myself with some downtime, I definitely like to use it to wind down after a long day (pairing it with a few beers is usually just what the doctor ordered, in fact). While I hadn't played in a while, I did recently purchase FIFA13 which I've anxiously been waiting for since the beginning of the summer. When I play FIFA, I pretty much strictly play in career mode. And while I like to dabble in Ligue 1 and Eredivisie from time to time, my heart belongs to MLS. So, this past month, much to my delight, I've been able to launch a new career as the 2013 New England Revolution.
Now, I think the main reason I've been looking forward to FIFA13 so much is because the Revs squad in FIFA12 just wasn't really accurate. After all, Jay Heaps and company brought in 14 new players in 2012 than were with the club in the 2011 season, and FIFA's previous iteration had very few of them, including some who are no longer even with the team still (John Lozano and Jose Moreno in particular). But with a totally refreshed Revs roster that reflects the squad as it currently stands, FIFA13 allowed me the opportunity to start a new career mode and, more importantly, approach it as I believe Jay Heaps will approach the upcoming 2013 season. This is the grand experiment I decided to undertake.
I don't want to write a long tirade complaining about which players got which ratings, but I do have a couple gripes with how it ended up shaking out. For instance, I don't believe Chris Tierney (player rating: 61) is only 2 points more than Tyler Polak (player rating: 59). I mean, no offense to the rookie, but he's barely seen any first team minutes, even with Tierney injured at the end of the season, so maybe 59 is a little generous? Maybe the ‘Generation Adidas' status gives player ratings a boost in the FIFA games perhaps? Also, when will FIFA learn to list Ryan Guy appropriately as a right midfielder? I know the dude can play basically anywhere on the pitch, but you know where I haven't seen him play once in the past two years? Left midfield.
The Revolution options up top look much more disparately tiered with FIFA13's rankings as well. Jerry Bengtson and Saer Sene clock in at 65 and 67 respectively, whereas none of our other three forwards can break 60. Meanwhile, on defense, Stephen McCarthy and Chris Tierney were appropriately changed from midfielders to defenders for this new edition. The defensive depth, however, is still quite thin (just like in real life!).
Starting the season:
As I mentioned, I decided to try to approach my season as if it is next season under the second year tenure of Jay Heaps. As a result, I've decided to keep Benny Feilhaber on the bench. In fact, he has seen very little playing time. Why? Well, because I'm just not convinced that Benny will still be a Rev come next season. Of course, I can't predict this with anything other than my own gut feeling, which is why he's still been in the game day XI for most matches, but I've found that the plethora of other midfield options have been more than enough. Between Lee Nguyen, Juan Toja, Kelyn Rowe, and Ryan Guy, my options at CM and CAM (as well as RM and LM, for the most part) are pretty much set. And that still leaves me bench options like Fernando Cardenas and Blair Gavin.
On defense, I've opted for a backline (from right to left) of Florian Lechner, Stephen McCarthy, A.J. Soares, and Kevin Alston, which has worked great thus far (I'm about 10 games in by the way). I like to have Chris Tierney on my bench since I can slot him in at LB or LM if need be. And Darrius Barnes, of course, is great to have on the bench as well since I can stick him anywhere.
My preferred formation has been a 4-4-1-1, with Jerry Bengtson as the target forward and Saer Sene withdrawn a bit to allow him to make runs as well as crucial through balls. Also, he can make some killer through-ball passes and crosses as well, FYI. Unfortunately, my season began with Sene breaking his ankle in our first pre-season match. So, for about 2 months I went with a 4-2-3-1 with Bengtson as the lone striker. Bengtson has 14 goals in 10 games. Foreshadowing? I like to think so.
Highlights and Lowlights thus far:
With that previous Bengtson stat, the Honduran is currently the league-leading goal-scorer. Not only that, but the Revs are in fact first place in the Eastern Conference with a 3 point jump over the second place Columbus Crew. Luckily the FIFA13 gameplay itself, in my experience, hasn't changed much from FIFA12. So, getting back into the swing of it (even switching from XBOX 360 to PlayStation 3) wasn't too difficult.
The biggest lowlight was being knocked out of the US Open Cup in the Revs' first round. It was a heartbreaker, losing to the Philadelphia Union in the final minute of extra time (yes, in the 120th minute, right before we went to PK's). I blame my poor substitution choices. Unlike my 2013 Revs squad, I truly hope that Jay Heaps will get his team further in the tournament.
Overall, I have to say that FIFA13 is really helping me cope with the disappointment of the Revolution 2012 season. Because, like most Revs fans, all I can do is look towards 2013 and hope for the best. It's proving to really be great therapy.
What are your thoughts on the Revs in FIFA13? What improvements have you seen? What would you change?Let us know in the comments section below!