The Couch Captain: United 2, Revs 1

Ned Dishman - Getty Images

The first match back after a long break always seems to carry with it a certain air of unpredictability, and Saturday night's 2-1 loss to D.C. United followed suit. Coming off of a solid 2-0 victory at home over Columbus, New England were looking to build upon the momentum they earned before the break, and for long stretches, it looked as though they were successful in doing so.

While the result ended up being a familiar one, there's no denying this team showed signs of improvement on the field, and perhaps it's a sign of things to come as the season winds down. While the starting lineup may have been a bit experimental, the on-field product was fairly competitive on the night.

In this week's Couch Captain we shake off the rust from the FIFA International Break, and take a look at how the Revs are beginning to shape up in anticipation of 2013.

The first match back after a long break always seems to carry with it a certain air of unpredictability, and Saturday night's 2-1 loss to D.C. United followed suit. Coming off of a solid 2-0 victory at home over Columbus, New England were looking to build upon the momentum they earned before the break, and for long stretches, it looked as though they were successful in doing so.

While the result ended up being a familiar one, there's no denying this team showed signs of improvement on the field, and perhaps it's a sign of things to come as the season winds down. While the starting lineup may have been a bit experimental, the on-field product was fairly competitive on the night.

In this week's Couch Captain we shake off the rust from the FIFA International Break, and take a look at how the Revs are beginning to shape up in anticipation of 2013.

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION -- OUT: FW Saer Sene (L knee ACL tear); QUESTIONABLE: DF Chris Tierney (L knee sprain)

A very slim injury report this week. Chris Tierney has been solid all season long, but after picking up a knee sprain, it was more than possible that he wouldn't see the field. Luckily, the depth at the back for the Revs is solid, especially with the revelation of Kevin Alston being such a worthy replacement at left back (more on that later).

JAY HEAPS LINEUP VS. DC UNITED: Reis, Alston, Barnes, McCarthy, Lechner, Nguyen, Simms, Guy, Rowe, Fagundez, Bengtson

Tierney gets the night off, and it's Flo Lechner getting the start in his place, pushing Alston over to left back. Darrius Barnes, riding his recent strong form, earned yet another start alongside Stephen McCarthy.

In the midfield, no major changes of note, outside of the continuous doghouse-ing of Benny Feilhaber. Lee Nguyen manned his usual left-mid spot, with Clyde Simms and Ryan Guy patrolling the middle. Kelyn Rowe, also on a good run of form, got the start out wide right.

Without Saer Sene, the Revs are searching for a new partner for their score-on-any-continent striker Jerry Bengtson, and on this night the opportunity was given to teen internet sensation (is that a bit much?) Diego Fagundez.

No arguments with this lineup outside of the omission of Benny Feilhaber, everyone in this lineup has played well and deserves to be there, which is a good sign for a club trying to form an identity.

COACHES' CHALKBOARD AND STYLE OF PLAY

From the defensive perspective, things had to change slightly when talking about how the team was going to play out of the back. While Lechner doesn't have the pace, or dynamic physical attributes of Alston, it's pretty fair to say that the service and contribution to the attack is not only better, but more consistent. However, with his lack of pace, the ability to retreat and recover isn't as strong, so it almost looked as if the back line was a bit more cautious, which, in my opinion, is better for the team.

Kevin Alston has been a revelation at left back, and even though we were reminded by the Revolution's play by play team numerous times that he played there in college, I have still been pleasantly surprised by how well he's fit in on the opposite side of the defense. What does this mean going forward? Quite frankly it brings more flexibility. The defense is a bit more cautious and solid, and the service from the right flank is now much more consistent. This could possibly be a long-term answer, but don't count on that just yet.

The midfield shape and philosophy really hasn't changed because the players haven't seen much turnover either. Simms holds the center of midfield, and Nguyen and Rowe patrol the flanks trying to cut-in and serve Bengtson. Ryan Guy is pretty much all over the field, so there's really no set role he seems to want to stay in.

The forwards, however, changed a little bit. Diego Fagundez actually brings a little something different to the table. Fagundez is smaller, and less physical than his other strike partners, which leads him to being much more aggressive from a dribbling and speed stand point. Several times on the night you could see Fagundez making long dribbling runs deep into the United defense, something this offense isn't used to having. His nose for the ball in and around the box causes trouble for the defense, and as long as he doesn't get bullied off the ball and stays active, he can be an important piece to the puzzle going forward.

SUBSTITUTIONS AND COACHES' DECISIONS

With the team coming off of a long break, it was going to be really interesting to see how Jay Heaps handled the bench and lineup and to be honest I was happy with the moves, just not crazy about the timing.

Dimitry Imbongo for Jerry Bengtson 61'

Benny Feilhaber for Deigo Fagundez 73'

Juan Toja for Flo Lechner 73'

The first sub was absolutely necessary, and there's really no arguing. Bengtson was coming off two massive WCQ over the break, and the last thing we need to do is gas our best striker.

Feilhaber and Toja entered the match together, although it felt just a bit too late. The Revs were chasing the match, but anyone who watches this team week in and week out could tell you that this team was immediately better after this double sub. Toja is still gaining his match fitness so I'm happy with his late minutes, but Benny should be starting, and in the middle of the field where he belongs. You can see this team is better with him in it, and it's time the coaching staff realizes it.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Several good flashes of brilliance on Saturday foiled by defensive lapses that have become all too familiar. While the offense truly has taken great strides this year it still boggles the mind that a team led by a former defender as head coach still performs poorly in the defensive third on a consistent basis. It's not huge, glaring things, luckily, but it's these little mistakes that will be their undoing time and again. Attention to detail will be key at the back for this team, and it needs to be a bit better.

How the club handles Jerry Bengtson for the rest of 2012 is extremely important as well. We've already sen what can happen when a "star" player isn't treated properly and the repercussions it causes throughout the rest of the squad, so making sure Bengtson is happy and healthy should be priority one. Jerry Bengtson has the potential to be an absolute star in this league, and when you pair him with Saer Sene up top, this club has a VERY good partnership in 2013. Keeping them both mentally stimulated and happy are a huge part of that, and this coaching staff needs to recognize this.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Jay Heaps and Benny Feilhaber need to leave Gillette Stadium one night soon, head over to Bar Louie, have a beer, and just lay into each other with grievances until they work things out. This whole situation is ridiculous. Neither side is at fault, I'm not pointing fingers in any direction. Benny needs to realize that Jay is a rookie coach trying to form an identity, and Jay needs to realize that the greatest managers don't paint all of their players with the same brush. I'm not saying certain players deserve preferential treatment or anything of that nature, I'm merely stating that the Arsene Wenger's and Jose Mourinho's of World Football understand that every player is an individual, and should be treated as such. Benny Feilhaber deserves better than this, and it's time it all comes to an end.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join The Bent Musket

You must be a member of The Bent Musket to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Bent Musket. You should read them.

Join The Bent Musket

You must be a member of The Bent Musket to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Bent Musket. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9353_tracker