FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 05: Dimitry Imbongo #92 of the New England Revolution is congratulated by teammate Darrius Barnes #25 following his goal against the Columbus Crew during the game against the on September 5, 2012 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
A comprehensive, 90-minute performance was just what the doctor ordered for the ailing Revolution, and that's just what went down on Wednesday night against the Columbus Crew. For the first time in a long time (if at all) this season, Jay Heaps' squad not only limited the petty mistakes that have cost them so many points this year, but they also pressed high, played physical, and controlled the tempo. Indeed, the Revs played like they had nothing to lose. And that may mostly because, well, they really don't have much left to lose. But it's that type of grit
First, the physical play: Dimitry Imbongo, Kelyn Rowe, Diego Fagundez, and Florian Lechner were the bullies out there for once, something we haven't really seen from any Revolution player all season. Showing some muscle in the box is key to winning games, and for once we had it covered on both sides of the pitch. Stephen McCarthy and Darrius Barnes held down the fort on defense while on the other side of the field, Imbongo and Fagundez fought for everything they could get a foot to. The result? Well, just have a look at our first goal--which, side note, featured Imbongo doing something that I can really only remember one other Rev (Jerry Bengtson) doing this season: following up on a shot.
After this performance, the likes of Flo Lechner, Darrius Barnes, Diego Fagundez, and Dimitry Imbongo all absolutely deserve to start against D.C. United on the 15th if not for the rest of the season. While Lechner certainly isn't the fastest right-back in the league, he has some of the same comprehensive qualities as other successful MLS fullbacks such as defensive and positional awareness, crossing ability, and long, accurate throw-ins from the sidelines. If you ask me, right-back is his position to lose as of right now.
As for the midfield, Ryan Guy may just have the CAM role locked down himself. He's looked more and more dangerous every game since switching centrally. He has made a nuisance of himself for opposing defenses, has the motor to track back on defense, and the vision to link together his wide midfielders as well as his forwards. For me, Ryan Guy has had the most improved season of any Rev and the front office would be wise to lock him in to a long-term deal with a healthy paycheck. The dude straight up deserves it, and I do NOT want to lose him.
In regards to Lee Nguyen, he deserves much of the same as Guy in terms of a new, long-term contract with New England. Losing him could possibly be the biggest blunder since letting Seth Sinovic go. Furthermore, Nguyen should be penciled in to take any dead-ball situations through the rest of the year. He's been the most efficient player over the ball in the second half of the seasons and we might as well ride the hot hand... err... the hot foot.
My only slight concern with Nguyen is whether he will be just as effective as he's been all season out on the right wing. Presumably Juan Toja will have the left-midfield position locked down once he arrives. Nguyen, who has shown his versatility game-in and game-out, will need to be able to reproduce his successes on the other side of the field as well. I am confident that it won't be an issue. Tactically, Guy could of course switch back over to his familiar right-midfield position and Nguyen could take over centrally, but, to reiterate, I'm really feeling Guy at CAM these days.
In conclusion, HALLELUJAH! WE WON A GAME! But not only that, we answered some lingering questions that DESPERATELY needed answering. So, yes, this team can play physically if they want. And, yes, they can press high and force other teams to make the mistakes.
Maybe this team is actually starting to figure out this whole MLS thing. Or maybe we'll be right back to square one by next game. Show me that it wasn't a fluke, boys. That's all I'm asking.