Disappointment. Simple, text-book, disappointment.
Over the last few years the Revolution have rarely played in matches that cause nationwide buzz, so when they traveled to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night, I was thoroughly amped up. Not particularly confident by any means, but amped up. Big match jitters, you could say.
However, any thought of possibly earning a result at Sporting Park quickly disappeared as the Revs were thoroughly outplayed, both physically, and mentally, on the night.
The only way to break down a tough loss is to simply jump right into it, so here goes nothing.
Quite frankly the only "surprise" here was the pleasant return of KEvin Alston to LB, pushing Chris Tierney to left midfield. I've felt quite frequently that without Juan Agudelo, this team has been begging for an out-and-out left winger. Tierney's service is quite possibly the best on the team, and I was looking forward to seeing how this would play out.
With Clyde Simms battling fitness and injuries, it made way for Scott Caldwell, and I know I'm not alone in thinking this team is at least better offensively when Caldwell is in the lineup. His passing tends to be a little more positive, which helps to spring the Revs talented attackers.
GAME PLAN AND STYLE
To me, the omission of Diego Fagundez signaled that perhaps Jay Heaps knew of the physical nature that SKC tends to play with, and shaped his lineup accordingly. With having Tierney on the left wing, it may have slowed things down just a tad offensively, although it certainly did improve the service from the left side.
With Agudelo and Fagundez on the wings this team was fast, dynamic, and dangerous. With Tierney and Sene (again, playing on his opposite foot) on the wings, this team feels a little slower, more calculated, and less likely to create that spark. Tierney would really pair well with a "target" striker, but if you count on him to be the same winger, cutting in and taking on defenders, it's not going to work, and I think that's where the problems lie with this formation.
Imbongo is a physical specimen, but he's not what I would call a target striker. A lot of the service on the night went wanting simply because the proper type of forward wasn't on the end of it. If this team wants to play with a lone striker, it either needs two fast, dynamic wingers that can cut in, or a beast of a target striker. With the acquisition of Charlie Davies, another smaller, more dynamic forward, it's clear that Jay Heaps wants to continue to play with his wingers cutting in and playing through balls.
Defensively, the Revs are beginning to crack. Stephen McCarthy has shown a few chinks in the armor, and old friend Kevin Alston reminded us that while he's extremely physically talented, the positioning is different than Tierney's, and I'm not sure if it's in a positive or negative way just yet.
If this Revolution team is going to make a run at the playoffs, I think an old cliché might be the best medicine: "The Best Defense, is a Good Offense". When this team is more dangerous going forward, and can take a little pressure off the back four, the defense is better because they aren't over-stretched and unorganized. This team needs to get back to the attack-minded, fast style of play they saw with Agudelo in the mix. With Agudelo and Davies both training fully, perhaps the return will be sooner than we think.
This is where I get a little cranky. I though the subs could have been a little better, and had a direct negative influence on the night.
Fagundez for Alston 57'
Chad Barrett for Sene 63'
Andy Dorman for Lee Nguyen 71'
The Alston sub makes the most sense of the three. Alston is still fighting back to full fitness, and with the Revs chasing two goals, it made sense to take him off for Fagundez.
The second sub, barring any injury that maybe I didn't know of at the time, is the one that drives me nuts. You KNEW Imbongo was losing his cool AGAIN. He had little to NO influence on the game. Yet, Heaps takes off Sene, and leaves Imbongo on with a yellow, which he then turns into a red TWO MINUTES LATER. I didn't understand the sub then, and I don't now.
Andy Dorman hasn't played significant minutes all season. Was Heaps just waving the white flag at that point? Oh, and the fact that dorman wasn't used to game speed and minutes showed, with a poorly timed, studs-up tackle. Red card. Thanks for playing.
Just a few rapid fire points here to close us out this week:
- Dimitry Imbongo, in my opinion, has played his way off the starting XI for the foreseeable future.
- A.J. Soares needs a second chance at the First XI.
- I STILL hate Saer Sene on the right.
- Scott Caldwell is the CDM of the future, and it's his spot until he leaves.
- I wouldn't mid seeing Matt Reis. The Revs need a calming influence at the back right now.
- Stop the long balls, and get back to attacking with controlled aggression.
- Keep your cool. Tempers lead to early showers.
Other than that, this team needs to stick with what's gotten them here, stay solid on defense, and attack with pace. Saturday is a MASSIVE encounter in front of the home fans, with playoff implications all over it. Is this team ready to rise to the occasion? I truly hope so.