The Revs got their first point of the season this past weekend against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Sure, it probably should have been three, but at least for now it seems as though order has been restored. Let's not forget, last season it took the Revs quite a few games to start scoring goals (minus the opening weekend Bengtson goal against the Chicago Fire). Hopefully the attack will start clicking soon. But for now, I think we can hang our hats on our first shutout of the season... at least for the week.
1) He's Back. Last week I called for a swift resolution to the Goncalves contract saga before it got out of hand and that's just what we got. Not only did he return to the starting XI, but he wore the captain's armband to boot. Oh, and let's not forget that he helped post the Revs' first shutout of the season as well. The draw was disappointing, but I've found comfort and solace in the fact that at least we've got our captain back. To me, that's worth the two points we dropped.
2) 'Right Back' To The Ways Things Were. The Andrew Farrell experiments were fun, but if this game told us one thing it's that he is the best right back the New England Revolution have. The back line that was so successful last season made it's triumphant return against Vancouver and Farrell was back to his familiar spot on the right flank. The outcome of this switch was an absolutely monster day from the sophomore who had perhaps one of his best games in a Revs jersey yet. Out wide, Farrell was able to shut down the usually potent attack of players like Darren Mattocks and Kekutah Manneh. But perhaps more influential than his defensive contributions was his ability to get forward with the ball at his feet and spring the Revs on multiple counter-attacks. Simply put: It just felt right.
3) A Necessary Change. When it's not working, it's not working. And thankfully it didn't take Jay Heaps too long to switch things up and replace Scott Caldwell, who has had a particularly rough start to the season, with the more physical and experienced Andy Dorman. The result? An immense game from the veteran who did just about everything right. Most importantly, he did the simple things that Caldwell was falling short of. Dorman had a commanding presence in the midfield, winning second balls, out-muscling attackers, and dictating the possession through accurate passing (he had an impressive 83% passing stat for the day). What's more, it felt like Dorman's teammates, chiefly the backline, felt more comfortable with him there. Certainly he deserves another start this weekend against San Jose.
4) Another Necessary Change. Speaking of things not working, Jerry Bengtson has failed to be the offensive spark that Heaps had hoped he'd be in the first two games. And although he made the 18 for this match, it was Dimitry Imbongo who got the nod in the second half. Imbongo's insertion into the game had an immediate impact and his hold-up play helped the Revs string together a few quality chances on goal. My only gripe is that perhaps Heaps waited too long to bring the big Frenchman in. He, too, should be strongly considered to start against the Earthquakes.
5) And More Changes On The Way? As good as Dorman and Imbongo were in this game, I'm relieved to know that the Revolution front office is not resting on their laurels. There's a clear need still for a defensive midfielder and a center forward. Dorman got the job done, but as we saw last season, he can tend to be a bit inconsistent. The Revs still need a week-in, week-out d-mid who can help with possession and cover defensively. As for the center forward spot, Teal Bunbury is simply not the answer-at least not right now. Sure, he's got a great work-rate, but his hold-up play is lacking. Unfortunately, several attacks died in the final third when Bunbury was involved. I'm sure that over time he will gel with the midfield more effectively, but right now New England needs to get its attack in gear. Goals have to be the primary focus right now, and a clinical center forward is sure to help with that.