After a week of unspeakable chaos, turmoil, and heartache, Revs fans were looking to Saturday's match for relief. Unfortunately, they were met with more frustration instead as they watched New England get truly spanked by the New York Red Bulls.
I typically like to use this column to write about positive takeaways from each match, but it is truly a challenge after this weekend's disappointing display. I, like many others, was hoping that the Revs would find a way to channel all the emotion from the week that was in Boston into a heartfelt result, maybe at least a couple goals. But instead, I was left pounding my fists with a 4-1 shellacking and not even a legitimate Revolution goal to speak of.
As the lineups came out, I was gleefully optimistic about Jay Heaps' starting XI. It was almost as if he was reading Revs fans' tweets all week, many of which have been calling for Clyde Simms to be benched in favor of a more attack-minded player like Andy Dorman. Not only that, but Juan Toja was benched as well in favor of Diego Fagundez who was surely inserted into the starting lineup to help stretch the New York defense and provide a more dynamic and unpredictable element to the attack.
Dorman, while quiet for long stretches of the match, was an accurate passer (27 of 31 passes completed) and I think paired quite well with Kalfia Cisse (who had an impressive passing stat himself, completing 72 of 77 passes). Dorman deserves another start in my opinion, but his starting role is far from guaranteed at this point. Cisse, on the other hand, certainly looked dominant in the midfield and showed just how commanding he can be in the center of the pitch. He may not be Shalrie Joseph 2.0 exactly, but he is a sorely needed presence for the Revs. Now if only he could play as well on turf, too.
Unlike Dorman, Diego Fagundez was highly disappointing. The youngster may have stretched the field, and by all means was able to keep the New York backline guessing, but he wasted opportunities in the final third over and over again. On top of that, he was muscled off the ball easily and took far too long to get going. Coming into this past pre-season camp, Fagundez looked poised for a breakout 2013 season. But from what I've witnessed so far, I can't really see him as anything more than a late-game bench option. Unless Heaps plans to move boy wonder into the midfield, I simply can't find any justification to start him up top for the foreseeable future.
Fagundez's striking partner, Jerry Bengtson, was no better. Bengtson looked unenthusiastic and punchless (boy have I been using that word a lot lately). He may make good runs, but he couldn't possibly be any less clinical in front of the net. Unlike previous games this season, this was not a case of lack of service. Lee Nguyen and Kelyn Rowe were on point and generated plenty of chances. Bengtson, however, couldn't make himself useful on any of them. And his best chance, which came in the 31st minute, was picture perfect--the kind of chance that any Designated Player should be able to put away with ease. Yet Bengtson took too many touches to round Luis Robles and instead crossed the ball into a virtual abyss on the right side of the box.
To put it plainly, Jerry Bengtson needs to step up his game. Big time. As of now, despite scoring our only goal of the season, he is making his case to be sold in the summer. And if you ask me, that's the best thing that could happen as things stand now. The reasonable adjustment period is over. It's time for Jerry to show us some goals or time for the Revs to show him the door.
Unfortunately, the same broken record for New England continues to spin after this weekend. The improved performances of Nguyen, Rowe, and Cisse as well as the continued success of Jose Goncalves are balanced out by the disappointing outings from Fagundez, Bengstson, Andrew Farrell (who seemed to wholly forget about Henry a few too many times), and Stephen McCarthy.
Although it's still early and the Revolution are only 6 points out of a playoff spot, the season already seems like it might be slipping away from us. Things need to turn around sooner rather than later. It may not be time to hit the panic button yet, but surely many hands are hovering over it after this weekend.