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September was a better month than August for the New England Revolution, but nevertheless it was difficult. In a stretch of games where injuries and absences forced a lot of lineup shuffling and uncertainty, veteran defender Darrius Barnes was the consensus best performer of the month.
September was the month where the New England Revolution finally broke their record-setting winless streak. A 2-0 home win over Columbus prompted a wave of relief in Foxboro, which gave way all too quickly to another lackluster run of losses and a draw. In all, the Revs were 1-2-2 over the entire month, scoring four goals and conceding five. Compared to their performances in July and August, that actually wasn't half bad.
The loss of Saer Sene to a season-ending knee injury and various other injuries across the back line gave several lesser-utilized Revolution players a chance to really shine. It also put several other players in positions they weren't previously familiar with. Through all of this shuffling and tinkering, the most unlikely of players emerged as the biggest key to any success enjoyed by the Revs in the month of September: veteran defender Darrius Barnes.
Darrius was almost a no brainer here. He turned in some of the best defensive performances of any Revolution player this season while filling in for an injured A.J. Soares. He was so good, in fact, that head coach Jay Heaps had to find ways to keep him on the pitch once Soares was healthy again. Then, when Florian Lechner fell injured, Barnes immediately slotted in at right-back (his collegiate position) and once again turned in admirable performances against New York and Houston. Darrius showed leadership, tenacity, surprisingly good passing acumen out of the back, and proved that he belongs in the starting conversation on this team week in and week out.
Corey: Not only did the Revs back-line desperately need someone to step up and push them, but it also needed a veteran to step in when injuries started nagging the defense. Darrius Barnes was the man for both situations. He showed his versatility by slotting in at both CB and RB, and came up in a big way to pull a point back against the New York Red Bulls. Displaying his defensive awareness and aerial prowess, Barnes left his mark in September, both with the fans and surely Jay Heaps as well.
Matty: Scored his first goal (should have had his second), and finally got to showcase the physical tools and talent we've all been calling for. Strong in the center of the park, but also showed us that he could play out wide if the situation called for it. Very impressed, hope to see more.
Abram: The man was a scapegoat before the season began. Looking on him now, we can see that he may be part of the puzzle going forward. Barnes had thrived in the opportunities given to him through injury. Yet, even more than his goals, there is a sense of leadership, strength, and passion that he has been bringing to the squad. Yes, he's still a magnate for a silly yellow, but at least that silly yellow pertains to defending teammates. I'd expect to see him starting for the last few games of the season.
Darrius' Line: 5 appearances, 5 starts, 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 yellow card; 13 points in TBM PotM voting
Dimitry Imbongo, 6 points: A physical threat on the pitch. Understands his size is his advantage of did a good job of harassing and pressing defenses throughout September. Stats show plenty of shots taken and 1 goal scored. Granted he stole it from Diego but clearly shows his goal hungry instinct. Did you know he got a yellow for excessive celebration for booting the corner flag? Definitely a poacher who can create goal scoring opportunities of nothing. (Brendan)
Kevin Alston, 5 points: Yes, I went there. Took the position change in stride and quite professionally. Looks more comfortable cutting in with his right foot, but most impressive is the fact that you don't see a drop off in quality. People are very hard on Alston, mostly because he's asked to do so much for the club on a weekly basis. His skill set is still one of the most dynamic in MLS, and this month, it was on full display. (Matty)
The Player of the Month is compiled by all five members of The Bent Musket's staff. Each writer selects his top three Revolution players for the month, who are assigned point values - three points for the #1, two for the #2, and one for the #3. Then, points are totaled and the player who received the most points in the voting is named Player of the Month. Honorable mentions go to the next two players in the voting.