March was a real down month for the New England Revolution. Riding on soaring expectations after last season's breakout, postseason-clinching campaign, the Revs were touted as Eastern Conference contenders, and Grant Wahl even predicted them to be a dark horse for the MLS Cup title. Opening night against Houston was to be a highly-anticipated spectacle of attacking soccer.
Instead the Revs got spanked 4-0, and the misery didn't end there. They traveled to Philadelphia and got blanked 1-0, before coming home and drawing 0-0 to Vancouver, a notoriously poor traveling team. If not for a surprise 2-1 victory in San Jose at the end of the month, the Revs would have finished March goalless and winless in four matches. That said, goals and three consecutive strong defensive outings at least gave the impression that things have been stabilized, and a major factor in that stabilization was Lee Nguyen.
The only match Lee didn't play in was an unmitigated disaster. Yes, the Revs then went on to lose at Philadelphia, but you could see the midfield - and, indeed, the entire team - stabilize with Lee in the lineup. He played well against Vancouver, and then ran the table against San Jose. Nguyen may have started his professional career as a quick-footed winger, but he's really turned himself into a two-way box-to-box midfielder with excellent creative vision. Moreover, he's the heart and soul of the Revs right now.
Jake: Remember how bad this team was in Houston? He wasn't in the lineup that day and since then the Revs have posted a 1-1-1 record with him on the field. He takes so much pressure off the defense with his work rate I'm starting to think that his absence in Houston was a bigger problem than anything the defense did. And that winner against San Jose pretty much sealed his place as the Revs top player in March.
Corey: His contract extension during the offseason already has had significant implications just 4 games into the 2014 season. Nguyen is clearly valued greatly by the Revolution organization and he has shown that he's prepared to honor that loyalty and commitment by leading the team into a new season which holds great uncertainty. Nguyen looked a more complete player in March than perhaps ever before in a Revs kit. Tactically, his game evolved into more a two-way midfielder with box-to-box tendencies. He is pivotal to the Revolution attack and there's reason to believe that 2014 will be a good season for him.
Seth: As the 4-0 loss against Houston showed, the Revs are a different team when Nguyen isn't in the lineup. More than a dynamic attacker, Nguyen helps bring bite to the midfield with timely tackles and smart fouls. Furthermore, the amount of ground that he covers is unmatched. Of course, Nguyen capped his solid month with a game-winning, stoppage-time goal against the Earthquakes. I would say that he clearly earned that contract extension he got in the off-season.
Lee's Line: 3 appearances, 3 starts, 1 goal, 261 minutes played, 14 points in TBM PotM Voting
Andrew Farrell, 7 points: The sophomore served as the focal point of early-season rumors, which called for his switch from right back to center back to center defensive midfielder. How did he respond? By turning out a near-flawless month. Farrell covered an unbelievable amount of ground in every role he occupied, joining the attack with pace, winning 50/50 balls, dominating the aerial game and continually gaining a first step on opposing attackers. His fearless defending should earn a spot beside the elite defenders in MLS. - Nick
Andy Dorman, 4 points: If he'd scored a goal this month he might have run away with the award. Dorman helped solidify a weak midfield in the match against Philadelphia, and then put in titanic performances against the Whitecaps and the Earthquakes. The major criticisms against Dorman last season were sloppy passing and sloppy fouling. This season, he's cleaned up his passing considerably (over 80% passing accuracy over three starts, 85% in his last two), and he's only racked up one yellow card. Put all that together with his dangerous presence on set pieces and still-sharp instincts for goal and you have a truly dangerous answer at the holding midfield position. - Steve
The Player of the Month is compiled by members of The Bent Musket's staff. Each writer selects his top three Revolution players for the month, who are assigned point values - three points for the #1, two for the #2, and one for the #3. Then, points are totaled and the player who received the most points in the voting is named Player of the Month. Honorable mentions go to the next two players in the voting.
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