We have the best defense in the league! That's the mantra that New England Revolution supporters have to repeat over and over. After all, the offense is nothing to brag about. One goal over the course of four games is pathetic. Sure, the defense has only allowed a pious two goals for the season, but in a league where the first tie-breaker is "Goals For", and not "Goal Differential", it leaves New England in the precarious situation of looking up at the rest of the Eastern Conference. Something is clearly broken with the New England attack, but it is difficult to tell exactly what - or who - it is.
Everyone wants to point at Jerry Bengtson. Our DP still has yet to pump in goals as he does for Honduras (though he does have 100% of New England's goals on the season). Then there are our most creative players, Lee Nguyen and Juan Toja. The complaint there is that they are holding onto the ball for a smidgen too long. My own theory is that there is a lack of shooting from range. Gone are the speculative Nguyen blasts from distance, and considering Kelyn Rowe's main attribute in FIFA is "long range shots," it's odd that he too has yet to let anything fly from distance.
Looking through MLS's "Chalkboard" at the season's game, we can see there is not just a lack of shooting but a huge discrepancy as far as the distaces that shots are taken from. As a whole, the team has 32 attempts on goal through four games. Only 10 of those shots are on target. Against the Chicago Fire, the only two shots on target were by Kaliffa Cisse and Jerry's goal. Both of those shots were from well inside the eighteen. While playing the Philadelphia Union, the two shots on target were from Jerry, again well within the eighteen, and a shot from Nguyen from nearly 30 yards out. Versus Sporting Kansas City, a game we would probably all rather forget, there were no New England shots on target from anywhere on the pitch. In the match against FC Dallas, Diego Fagundez had a go from about 20 yards out, but the other four shots on target where all either at the eighteen yard box or within it. As far as our less accurate takes, eleven of the off target shots took place from outside the penalty area. That means 18 of New England's shots, on or off target, were from within the penalty area.
Is New England looking a little too hard for that final pass instead of just taking a shot when open? It does appear that they suffering from Benny Feilhaber Syndrome. Bengtson, who is a poacher that can carve a nice living for himself off rebounds, has clearly not been getting service and now he is not getting a chance at misdirected ‘keeper saves when everything is done close range.
Another thought is that Saer Sene solves every single problem. Sene not only led the Revs in scoring last season, but also shots. This is despite missing close to the last third of the season with an injury. The hope is that Sene will return at full-strength. Yet, the chances of him being 100% early on are scarce. He scored 11 goals last year while healthy. Can we really expect similar results from him this year? Especially early on, are we really going to depend on him to solve all the scoring woes? How much pressure will fans heap upon Sene when he returns? Is the expectation level healthy, or realistic, for a player coming off an ACL tear in his dominant leg? Probably not. Nevertheless, the fans look at him as the savior to all problems, but will quickly crucify him if he underwhelms these lofty expectations.
Still, the hope is that Sene will recover and be back to full form by the summer months. Then, the idea is maybe we can add another piece or two. But right now, something is broken and I do not know exactly what it is. Confidence? Maybe. Daring? Definitely. Lack of ability? Probably not. Optimistically, the problem is solved when the Revs head to Seattle to play the only team in MLS with less points (yet somehow still with more goals) than us.