The New England Revolution emerged in 2012 touting a new style, a new strategy and new players. While promising at first, there was certainly room for improvement. Any reservations with its early hiccups was thought to improve with time as the team developed and as players that were added acclimated to the league and each other.
It's late August and many of those early pieces are gone. Not only have the likes of Bjorn Runstrom, Jeremiah White, John Lozano, Pepe Moreno been shown the exit, but even Captain Shalrie Joseph has been moved as well. Moreover the Revs have shown regression throughout the Summer rather than improvement in their game and the final stretch looks grim for new coach Jay Heaps.
While analyzing the remaining roster and how a Juan Carlos Toja-inclusive staring lineup would work, it's almost surprising and sad how good this squad looks on paper. A midfield/forward set featuring Lee Nguyen, Benny Feilhaber, Juan Carlos Toja, Clyde Simms, Saer Sene and Jerry Bengtson sounds like it'd be a starting lineup to a playoff team. We can assume this core, with or without Toja will be around for next year and with the the benefit of an off-season together be quite formidable.
Unfortunately we still have two months of soccer left in this campaign and the cast of characters in this horror film grows thin. Out of this list of remaining possible heroes, who will survive? Who will show their worth and earn the right to be written into next year's sequel?
One of several things head coach Stevie Nicol failed to do last year which infuriated me, was when all hope was lost he refused to feature his newer players in games towards to the end. Players like Alan Koger and Ryan Kinne were never afforded a chance to get adequate minutes under their belt in league games to make an argument for themselves. Granted, you can surmise that they may have failed to prove themselves in practice, but as bad as we were last year, the head trainer should have gotten a chance to see some minutes.
So who is that group of mystery men in 2012 that the fans (or viewers to keep up with my movie analogy) aren't sure will make it through this year or worth bringing back next year:
1. Sainey Nyassi: Who is Sainey Nyassi and what does he do?
You'd think someone who was a huge contributor during playoff years when he was a teenager would be a reliable contributor five years later. Nyassi is a perfect example of Steve Nicol's complacency as a coach. He and players like Darrius Barnes (who played ever minute of the 2009 campaign) and Kenny Mansally were heavily leaned upon early in their career and instead of having a team built around them and improving, they find themselves fighting for jobs and playing time years later.
Sainey Nyassi has speed. We see his twin brother use it with great success. Injuries have surely hampered Sainey's ability to contribute in 2012 but with a salary hovering near 90k according to the MLS Players Union is Nyassi someone we can afford to keep in a locker room already crowded with midfielders? Is he more suited for a 4-3-3 playing as a winger or forward? Is a guy who starts every game at midfield?
2. Rookies, Class of 2012:
What fans will not tolerate any more of is watching players leave New England, who were deemed useless and then watch them go on to starting roles on playoff teams in positions where we sorely need talent or depth. If necessary, throughout these last two months take players who may not have a role and try them out in different locations.
Personally I would have loved to have known that a speed demon like Kenny Mansally could be retooled into a starting left back rather keep a bench warm. Truly a lack of accountability, borne from a lack of awareness in the ownership group allows that situation to play out repeatedly at a comical level. If Bob or Jon Kraft knew anything about player movement like say a Seth Sinovic being re-signed to only later be cut then end up starting for Kansas City or see Mansally getting minutes in Salt Lake at left back we may see a push for this staff to employ those they deem merely subs or role players employed elsewhere on the field.
We have two months left. Let's see the boys play. Trust me there will be a riot if we find out that Tyler Polak ends being the next star striker and we only saw him play 33 minutes at left back. It's time Jay Heaps stresses the question marks on this team.