(Photo by Gail Oskin/Getty Images)
It would have been nice to win this one, especially being that it was against DC United. But alas, the chips did not fall in our favor. I think what hurts the most, after watching the replay, is that really just a few inches were the difference in the scoreline. It was just a matter of inches that Chris Tierney’s first free kick didn’t get past Joe Willis and just a matter of inches that Lee Nguyen’s nutmeg shot in the 40th minute drifted wide of the post. Unlucky, but that’s the game sometimes.
What we can take from this match is that the midfield pecking order is probably coming more clearly into focus. If we had a completely healthy squad, a 4-man midfield would most certainly consist of Benny Feilhaber, Shalrie Joseph, Clyde Simms, and Lee Nguyen. Kelyn Rowe and Ryan Guy have not had the best outings in the last couple matches, and one can only imagine that they will be looking at spots on the bench against New York in 2 weeks, assuming that the 4 mentioned above will be fit and ready to go.
Kelyn Rowe is a great asset because he can play in 3 out of 4 positions in the Revs’ 4-4-2 midfield. But his rookie mistakes and growing pains have been more obvious of late and he does not yet look like a player that can command an attack from CM like Benny or Shalrie can. His decisions and awareness still need more time to adapt to the tempo of MLS. We saw that against DC United. He took a couple too many shots from distance when he should have looked to pass. His shot in the 30th minute, for example, would probably have better been laid off to Saer Sene, who was pretty open in the box, for the better shot. He is a rookie, after all, and certainly Jay Heaps is not asking of him what he asks of Shalrie or Benny at this juncture. Down the stretch, however, he will likely be in that role again, and hopefully he’ll be better prepared next time.
Ryan Guy, as much as I love him, has been kind of inconsistent. He certainly still has a leg up on others in the pecking order like Jeremiah White or Alec Purdie, but nevertheless, his inconsistency is disappointing. He found himself in some pretty good positions against DC, but he also gave away too many balls in the attacking third. Still, at times I continue to feel like his full capacity at RM is held back a bit because of Kevin Alston’s propensity to advance into the attack without much concern for others up there. Off games happen to everyone. Hopefully Guy will be back on track soon.
The forward situation may be coming into focus more clearly as well. The Saer Sene and Jose Moreno partnership looked very promising at times. At other times, though, it looked out of sync. I think that there is reason to be excited about the two of them up top down the stretch, when both are on the same page and at full match fitness. Moreno could stand to be more involved in general, but he also had some really good moments in a few attacks. He looks like he can read the field pretty well. And he can put in a decent cross from out wide, too. Now we just need him to help create more chances.
Saer Sene went the full 90 against DC. That’s reason to be optimistic, I’d say, even if he did look pretty dogged by the end. And who knew he could provide that kind of service from the wing? Great stuff. But, Sene is still far from perfect. In this game I saw him take headers when he should have settled and taken a shot, and take shots when he probably should have headed it towards net. He’s a dangerous presence in the box, there’s no doubt. Now we just need him to start clicking with everyone else a bit better, particularly Moreno.
Defensively, we certainly had our struggles. Chris Tierney and Kevin Alston are still, at times, liable for turnovers and stretches of poor passing. That’s not to say that they aren’t improving though, because I think they are. Stephen McCarthy had perhaps the worst game of any on the backline. He looked tentative, slow, and uncomfortable in some one-on-one situations. Generally speaking, there’s still plenty of work to be done on defense.
With two weeks off, the Revs will be looking to get in some quality practice time at home. Hopefully this time will be used to nurse any lingering injuries so that we can go to New Jersey at full strength, or as close to it as possible.