I think we're onto something here, guys. Sure, Toronto was a struggling team coming into this match, but that is precisely why Jay Heaps' squad needed to be the more dominant team and secure all 3 points. It sort of had a ‘trap game' feeling to it (so does the DC United game in 2 weeks), but maybe that's just because us Revs fans have gotten used to dropping the matches that we were fully expecting to win. Dare I say that the Revs have finally turned a corner?
Diego Fagundez's move to the right wing has been a revelation and he is fast becoming one of the success stories of 2013--not only for just the Revolution, but in all of MLS. His confidence right now is soaring, and his teammates are finding ways to get him the ball. At this point, the sky is truly the limit for boy wonder.
I was glad to see Juan Agudelo earn the start, and he looks very close to full fitness. Even though he looked to be a bit winded towards the end, he still managed to score a last-gasp goal. So, yeah, I'm glad this guy's on our team now. More than that, though, it looks like he's bonding with his team at lightning speed both on and off the pitch; it's almost as if he's been with us all season. Bravo to Mike Burns, Brian Bilello, and anyone else who had a hand in getting him to New England. It's already paying dividends.
I will say, though, that Agudelo looked far more dangerous as the central striker when he was moved there after Saer Sene replaced Jerry Bengtson in the 72nd minute. Perhaps he'll get the chance to start up top soon with Bengtson heading out to meet up with the Honduras National Team.
As for Bengtson, well, I guess you can say he looks like he's trying. But is he really trying hard enough out there? Is it just the tactical side of the Revolution game plan that is keeping him from producing? It's hard to say just what is off about Jerry's game, but he is just not living up to the expectations that he brought with him to New England last summer. Is it time to cut our losses? I think so. But I'll let you read Kizito's piece from yesterday for more on that.
On the other side of the pitch, Chris Tierney celebrated his 100th start in fine fashion, with a trademark assist via one hell of a cross from the left wing. Jay Heaps mentioned in his post-game press conference that that's exactly how the game plan set out to utilize him, saying "...we inserted Chris Tierney into that offensive winger position as a winger left back and it worked out." Tierney's service is still an asset for the Revs, but the Mass. native needs the time and space to calculate it. When he can take a couple steps and lift his head up, those are the crosses that end up finding the net. So, here's hoping that the Revs can find a way to get Tierney firing with more consistency.
The New England midfield continues to click like a well-oiled machine. And Scott Caldwell is showing that he can be just as vital of a cog as anyone else in the middle of the pitch. When I sat down to write this piece, I was planning to postulate that Caldwell wasn't quite ready to assume the defensive-midfield role all on his own just yet after watching several of his passes become chances for Toronto after they were intercepted. And I still feel that way to an extent. But after looking at his stats from the game, he actually had a pretty impressive passing rating of 82% with only nine passes (out of 50) being unsuccessful. However, he also lost possession from an opponent's tackle eleven times. Now, that's not all that much more than some of his teammates, like Juan Toja, for example. But in his position, the giveaways are that much more costly. His passing needs to be that much more accurate if he's going to have to make up for his lack of size. Some homework for the rookie, I suppose.
Individual performances aside, this squad really looks like it's finding out how to play to its strengths. Last week I sung Jay Heaps' praises for sticking with his new 4-1-4-1 formation, and it seems to be more effective just about every week. It's still early, but it's oh-so-hard not to feel optimistic about the state of this club right now. Sure, we're still not in playoff position, but we're getting there.
At this point, if things stay the way they are, New England has to come out on top of the three-way battle for the 5th playoff spot; we need to be better than the Columbus Crew and the Philadelphia Union by the end of the season. Both teams are having their share of highs and lows this season. So, if their fortunes start to take a downward turn, the Revs need to be able to seize the opportunity to climb up the table. What's perhaps even more exciting is that New England's final two games of the season against the Crew might just be that much more exciting if they end up being the difference between making the post-season or not. Wouldn't that be something?
In the short-term, it's absolutely crucial that the Revolution take as many points as possible from this three-game homestand. With three already in the bag, they're started out on the right foot. The Galaxy will be a real test this weekend, but this squad should feel confident that they can earn at least a point if not secure a surprise three points from the defending MLS Cup champs. The DC United match, on the other hand, must be another dominant win like we saw against Toronto.