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New England Revolution vs. D.C. United: Luck Is Holding, But It Can Run Out

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The prevailing theory in the Revolution community lately is: "it's better to be lucky than good." As long as that luck doesn't catch up with us, I'm inclined to agree.

Zack Schilawski didn't intentionally handle the ball in the box on his goal - but it hit his outstretched arm in the box, and the goal should have been called back. Pat Phelan was kicked in the box but, frankly, he was flying in out of control and had no clear advantage to the ball - but he was awarded a penalty, and Shalrie Joseph converted to double the lead.

It's good to be lucky.

It's also frightening. Matt Reis had to be at his heroic best to keep DC off the scoreboard on a few occasions, and the Revs actually spurned several gilt-edged chances to pad their lead. I'd venture to guess that if Baldomero Toledo hadn't put on an absolutely horrendous performance in the middle (per usual), New England would have been lucky to get a point out of the game.

Understand this: conceding a large percentage of the possession to the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Home Depot Center is acceptable and a part of the game plan. Conceding the majority of possession to a still-rebuilding and gelling DC United side at the Razor is inexcusable, especially when your team runs a five-man midfield and preaches maintaining possession as a key strategy going forward this season.

More after the jump.

On the positive side, Zack Schilawski showed further progress as a single striker. He may have gotten lucky when the ball hit his arm, but the run and the finish were all class. DC's central defenders were bigger and stronger than LA's, but Zack still gave a great account of himself and did a fantastic job keeping the ball and bringing others into play.

Overall, Schilawski seems to have realized that it is far more important as a target striker to shield the ball and look for the simple lay-off than it is to take players on with a dribble or look for a killer ball. In his last two appearances he has refrained from trying to do too much with the ball and is keeping things basic; that's what has made him effective.

Didier Domi made his MLS debut and looked fairly solid. He did seem a bit off the pace at times, which is to be expected considering he hasn't played since the middle of the preseason, but his pedigree was readily apparent with many of the crosses he put in from the left. As he rounds into match fitness and finds his stride, his ability to combine with Marko Perovic in the left channel will be critical to the Revs' success.

My only real complaint, then, is the chronic inability to maintain possession. I can't understand how New England's coaching staff can harp so much on their focus on possession and still give up the majority of it to a visiting team that isn't a far and away better side.

Didier Domi already showed glimpses of intelligence and class on the ball that should help the Revs keep the ball, and they also had to live with the absence of Marko Perovic due to injury. Perovic has a tendency to lose the ball on the dribble, but he also starts - and finishes - dangerous and breathtaking attacking sequences due to his skill and deft passing ability.

More importantly, all events of the past two weeks point to Ousmane Dabo being available for Saturday's tilt against Portland. It isn't confirmed, but if he replaces either Phelan or McCarthy in the midfield triangle then the Revolution are immediately better in the passing and possession department. If Schilawski continues to play this well as a target forward - and is allowed to keep that role, considering New England's recent interest in Rajko Lekic - then Steve Nicol might finally be looking at a team that can keep hold of the ball the way he wants them to.

I just can't see the Revolution making the playoffs if they have to rely on lucky bounces and bad calls. Four points could have easily been one or none if an MLS referee was on his game on that particular day, and eventually that sort of thing catches up to you. Toledo could have just as easily felt like screwing New England on Saturday; he's made a habit of it in the past.

Again, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. When the Revs are fully healthy, they have the players to pass just about any team in the league off the pitch. I will feel a lot more comfortable about their chances if they start winning the possession battles at home, and that's definitely something that a full-strength New England doesn't need luck to do.

CORRECTION: Turns out the Revs had 60% of the possession to DC's 40%. Wouldn't it be nice if we had an immediate source of this information, like most other leagues do?

CORRECTION ON THE CORRECTION: OptaJack has lied to me. According to team sources, the final Opta stat was 61% possession to DCU, 39% to the Revs. My original point stands.

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