August 25, 2012; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Crew goalkeeper Matt Lampson (28) makes a save against New England Revolution midfielder Benny Feilhaber (22) in his MLS debut at Crew Stadium. The Crew won the game 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE
Well, at least we scored some goals, right?
Seriously, though, despite the loss, the Revs weren't all that bad in this one. Granted, the defense was clearly the weak link, falling back into old habits and what have you, but at least there were a few bright spots. And, if you've read this segment before, you know I like the bright spots.
For one thing, I think this was perhaps the best outing we've seen from Jerry Bengtson yet. He looked mobile, aggressive, aware, and hungry. He looked like all the things you want to see out of your DP striker. He disappeared at times, but made a nuisance of himself late into the second half where he came close to bagging two extra goals. Simply put, he looks dangerous in front of net, and that may just be the first time I've said that about a Rev all season.
Two midfielders who really seemed to put in the extra effort were Ryan Guy, whom we've come to expect that from, and Benny Feilhaber, which, quite frankly, he needed to do based on his past few performances. It seemed as though Jay Heaps opted to play Benny mostly out on the left wing and shifted Ryan Guy in centrally. And let me just say that I was a big fan. Guy, for one, was very involved and able to get himself into scoring position, including of course the play leading to his first goal of the season. Could he have done more? Sure, there were some opportunities that escaped him. But he shows up every game and plays to win. That goes a long way, for me.
Meanwhile, Feilhaber was able to control a lot of the pace of the game out wide and showed a lot of great link-up play between the strikers and defenders. It was nice to see Benny show up, because honestly I was starting to get a bit worried.
On defense, it's a different story. I can't really say I like very much of what I saw out there. Kevin Alston, as I so often point out, is really a one trick pony that just lacks the productivity in the attack that the Revs so desperately need. A perfect example is in the 54th minute when the Revs managed to dispossess the ensuing Crew on the left side of their defending third and string together some quick, smart passes to build the ball out to the right on a sort of counter play. The ball of course makes its way to Alston who, to be fair, was making a great run. However, as we so often see, it is with Alston that the play dies when his abrupt pass in towards the box meets only a Columbus defender and is eventually cleared out of the area.
If the Revs' season is indeed over (and let's face it: it is), then Heaps and his staff will need to start looking at where the weak spots are in order to start building towards next year. And sadly, although I think Kevin Alston is a fantastic guy, Heaps will surely want to look at upgrading the Revolution right-back situation in 2013.
And while we are on the topic of next season, maybe it's time for us all to admit that Kelyn Rowe, as talented and versatile as he may be, was perhaps not as ready as we all thought he would be to contribute in this 2012 campaign. Maybe some substitute appearances here and there would have worked out better than the 14 starts he's tallied this season. Rowe often disappears too easily during games and really lacks any sort of significant difference-making on either side of the ball, save for a few key moments. Maybe, just maybe, grooming him towards 2013 would have been the way to go. I, for one, would have preferred seeing more of Ryan Guy or even Fernando Cardenas out on the pitch instead. Then again, maybe all this experience will morph into a break-out sophomore campaign for the youngster.
Up top, aside from Jerry Bengtson's performance, Diego Fagundez really impressed me in this one. He looked quick and lucid, making smart runs and even providing good hold-up play at times. This is the Diego I think we all expected to see this season. Yet, somehow, we've seen him relatively un-involved with the exception of a few moments (not unlike Rowe). 2013 may perhaps be Diego's year as well. But, with the likes of Bengtson, Blake Brettschneider, Saer Sene, and Dimitry Imbongo, he's certainly got his work cut out for him if he wants to be in Heaps' plans for next season.
All in all, there were a handful of positives to take away from this match. But there were the disappointments as well, of course. And, unfortunately, those disappointments mostly came in the form of our defense. It's quite clear that the Revs desperately need some reinforcements on the back-line. Maybe Jay Heaps and company still have something up their sleeves, but regardless, it is certainly a glaring deficiency that needs to be addressed ahead of next season.
We may not win any more games this season, so we've got to take what we can get. I'll take the three goals we managed to score. A least we showed that we can still get on the scoreboard.