FOXBORO, MA - JUNE 16: Matt Reis #1 of the New England Revolution makes a save on a shot by Emilio Renteria #20 of the Columbus Crew as Stephen McCarthy #26 of the New England Revolution defends during a game at Gillette Stadium on June 16, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
In my humble opinion, Saturday night was one of our better games defensively. And while I would certainly not call it flawless, there definitely more good than bad, which is encouraging. Not only were A.J. Soares and, in particular, Stephen McCarthy on point, but it seemed that the entire team was helping out on defense. And the team’s efforts were rewarded with a deserved shutout. It’s the other side of the pitch that we struggled at.
But before we turn to the attack, let’s look at McCarthy and Soares a bit closer. This is a case where I feel the stats do not tell the whole story. The two combined for 40 successful passes (24 unsuccessful), 11 headers, 7 interceptions, 6 clearances, 3 blocks, 5 recoveries, and 2 tackles won. Those numbers don’t exactly jump off the page, but they were all key moments of the match that helped the Revs keep Columbus off the score sheet.
Stephen McCarthy, in particular, did the bulk of the dirty work in this game—he sacrificed his body on a number of occasions and in general looked like a natural center back for a full 90 minutes, something I don’t think we’ve really seen yet. I’m always hesitant to say that McCarthy has turned a corner when he has a good game such as he did on Saturday, but it’s very tempting to say it this week. He looked comfortable and composed, and I found myself fretting over him potentially having to leave the game (and even possibly miss future games) with an injury, which almost seemed to be the case on two separate occasions versus the Crew. So, am I seriously coming around on Stephen McCarthy? Hell yeah I am. But am I ready to go all in and say that he’s the definite answer? Maybe not quite yet. I’m getting there, though.
This was one of those games, not unlike the red Bulls game, where the Revs just did not look very threatening on the attack. The clinical finish is an issue, and unfortunately that falls largely on Saer Sene, who arguably had the most chances to put the Revs on the board. Sene is quality, there’s no doubt about that, but the decision-making in and around the box is sometimes an issue. His passing was off all night, and just generally looked to not be able to find his footing.
Sene had one of the best opportunities to score, as did Benny Feilhaber, Fernando Cardenas, and A.J. Soares, but none could find the back of the net. So, it’s kind of no wonder why Heaps and company have brought in a couple strikers on trial this week. That perfect complement to Sene is a big missing piece, someone who can play off of Sene when he’s hot and pick up the slack when he’s not. I’m simply not convinced that Jose Moreno or Blake Brettschneider can cut week in and week out.
Now that Bjorn Runstrom is back to health, will we maybe see him finally get some significant game time? Or when do we start seeing more Diego Fagundez appearances? He’s got his own bobblehead now, but still can’t seem to get himself much time out on the pitch. Sup with that? What’s Jay Heaps’ plan for the boy wonder? Clearly there are plenty of questions to ponder, and I certainly don't claim to have any answers.
Despite only a point, I do believe that there are positives to take from this game. And I think that the areas we need some help in should be pretty clear by now. It’s encouraging that Heaps is bringing in some trialists ahead of the summer window, which opens next Wednesday. And, to reiterate, our back-line had a pretty good night, but, as always, there’s still work to be done. All focus on Toronto now. We need to start racking up some W's against our Eastern conference foes.