July 8, 2012; Foxboro, Massachusetts, USA; New England Revolution defenseman Chris Tierney (8) congratulates midfielder Lee Nguyen (24) after a goal against the New York Red Bulls during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE
Although many may argue that the New England Revolution took three points last night due to New York being without six of their starters, I think it bears mentioning that the Red Bulls still had the services of Joel Lindpere, Dane Richards, Dax McCarty, and Kenny Cooper. And that says a lot about the Revolution midfield and particularly their back-line in this match-up.
Chris Tierney, for example, found himself one-on-one with the speedy Dane Richards for 90 minutes, which in and of itself is a tall order. "You've just got to respect (Dane Richards') speed and try to keep him in front," said Tierney. "We were talking about it before. I figured if I jammed him early, don't let him get a head of steam going then he couldn't hurt me. So I tried to be up tight on him, be close to him and make them try to play elsewhere, which I thought I did a decent job."
If you ask me, Tierney did a superb job of shutting down Richards. And I think that alone speak volumes to the individual improvement that the Revolution left-back has shown lately. The last time these two sides met, I remember watching Richards shred our back-line over and over. The match-up was ugly. But this time, well, not so much.
And Kenny Cooper, well, he did his fair share of damage back in April as well. But Sunday night, he was contained almost entirely (save for one shot that hit the post) by A.J. Soares and Stephen McCarthy. "(The defensive performance) was great. If you look at A.J. (Soares) and Stephen McCarthy," said Tierney, "I thought they were awesome. (Kenny) Cooper's a handful and they did a really good job dealing with it, so we're really pleased with those two guys."
Yup, our back-line had perhaps their best game yet, one could argue. Even Bobby Shuttleworth, who only found out he would be starting on Friday, recorded a 3-save shut-out and put in a solid outing. So, when you look at the big picture and consider how far the Revs have come so far this season, this game is a good yardstick by which to measure.
However, considering the Red Bulls were yet again operating with a patchwork back-line, not unlike our previous game against them, it is disappointing that the Revs weren't able to score more than 2 goals. In fact, Jay Heaps even said post-game, "I thought the game should've been over before half." And indeed it should have.
In the first half alone, Blake Brettschneider had four shots on goal. And if you were watching, you know that they were all basically right in front of goal. But Blake was ultimately unable to bag one and help the Revs put the game away early. Am I blaming Brettchneider for squandering our first-half opportunities? No, not entirely. After all, Saer Sene squandered his fair share as well in this game (which is not exactly a rare occurrence, mind you).
So, what I'm getting at is that it couldn't be more apparent that Jerry Bengtson is exactly what this team needs right now. And it couldn't have been scripted any better than to have him come into the game and score the insurance goal that would help see the Revs through. If you look at his goal, actually, it was only because he followed through on the play and was able to latch on to Sene's rebounded shot off Ryan Meara that the goal was scored. But, honestly, who else can we really count on these days to clean those up? If Sene continues to be lackluster in front of goal, then Bengtson will be the ying to his yang--finishing the chances that Sene creates, whether the Frenchman scores initially or not.
In conclusion, the Revolution took the pitch Sunday night with the right attitude, the right energy, and the right determination and absolutely deserved the win. With arguably our best defensive performance of the year and a new hope up top in Jerry Bengtson, it's hard not to be excited to see what's in store for the rest of the season.