In a recent Manchester City documentary entitled Blue Moon Rising, which chronicles the Premier League club's 2009-10 season, die-hard City fan Noel Gallagher (yes, of Oasis) prolifically states, "Any football fan just wants to be proud of their team. Whether they win or they lose is really irrelevant." I've been thinking about that a lot after last night, and I just don't know where I stand.
After sleeping off the match, I felt like I just had to talk some of it out. Because I truly think that there were some big takeaways that Revolution fans can be proud of, but also plenty that will leave our heads hanging low. If you asked me if I was proud of my team last night, I probably would have answered with a resounding "no." But can you blame me? It's hard to see, at the very least, a missed penalty kick and an own goal. Those kinds of things just leave a stale taste in your mouth. But moreover, to see so many opportunities pass by over the course of 90 minutes, you just can't help but feel down, even angry.
Now that I've had time to think it over, and have substituted several beers with some strong-ass coffee, I feel like I am a bit more forgiving than I may have been while watching last night. For example, Henry's goal was Grade-A class. And when you've got Thierry Henry in the attacking third with just one defender to beat, he's not NOT going to score, know what I mean? Additionally, I am amazed that we managed to keep Luke Rodgers from scoring. While a good percentage of that was straight-up luck, it's still pretty crazy that he didn't get one in the back of the net; he was on FIRE. On more than one occasion last night I thought to myself "I wish we had a Luke Rodgers." The Red Bulls, we must keep in mind, are no team to scoff at, with or without their national team players.
So, am I proud of my team? Yes and no. Well, I'm proud of Zak Boggs (did I just say that?). Maybe signing Ryan Guy this week lit a fire under him. I hope so, at least. I always thought Boggs worked hard out there, but I think last night was the first time I actually thought he played smart as well. And that guy can really rip one in front of the net. Boy, would it be nice to see more of those.
I also saw a great game from Didier Domi. He showed a lot of hustle and a lot of creativity. He had some great runs, played some stellar defense, and helped us keep possession on several occasions-something we desperately need to get better at. Now let's just hope that he can keep it up and stay off the injury list.
I was proud of the team finally trying a 4-4-2 at the end there. I dare you to find a single person who says that wasn't clearly better than the 4-5-1 we've been trying to run all year. If Nicol and company don't at least start at that on Wednesday against Toronto then I think they should be committed.
The most frustrating element of the match, for me, was Rajko Lekic. I just think it's time to stop making excuses. When you gift-wrap him a ball like Didier Domi did in the 61st minute and he can't finish, then I just can't help but start to question why we thought we could rely on him so much to produce goals. That is his bread and butter right there. There is just no excuse for not turning that into a goal. Now, would Schilawski have put that one away? I don't know. But I would like to put him in the exact same situation and see what happens... I'm just saying. Although, to his credit, Lekic did draw the penalty (despite Shalrie Joseph not being able to capitalize on it). Overall, though, I haven't been impressed. But perhaps we were made to expect too much of him.
There is plenty more I could say, but those are at least the main points I wanted to get out, for my own sanity. Other quick thoughts: I think that Phelan and McCarthy are weak links in the midfield right now and we need Benny back badly. Ousmane Dabo, who was subbed out at 20 minutes after aggravating his nagging thigh injury, has proven that he is unreliable as a starter and we will unfortunately need to start looking elsewhere to fill that gap. Mansally showed some great form and had a few really nice chances, but fell short, as we are used to. Chris Tierney had an excellent game and, for me, has made his case that he should be in the starting XI every week. Ryan Cochrane clearly didn't have the best game, but I'd rather not even get into that.
So, now that all that has been laid out there, am I proud of my team? I guess I still don't know. I'm proud to see some offensive sparks for once. I am proud to get a goal from the run of play, even if it's a month and a half since our last one. I'm proud to see the team pass the ball. But, you've got to ask, aren't these things what you would just expect out of your team to begin with? I think so. I'm proud that we didn't give up without a fight. I'm proud that we worked hard, even if we still walked away without any points. But if we can't build on this, then I think there will be little left to be proud of before this season is over.