The New England Revolution participated in their first scrimmage in 2012 against an outside opponent last night as they played the PDL side FC Tucson. Sainey Nyassi and Kenny Mansally scored the Revs’ 2 goals that helped them get the W. The game was a total of 115 minutes and was broken into three different periods of play. The first two periods were 35 minutes each and the Revs kept their side mostly the same. The 45-minute period was used to make some wholesale changes. There are some interesting takeaways from this game, so let’s get into it.
Firstly, let’s take a look at the Revs’ 3 different sides that took the field last night:
1st 35-minute period: Matt Reis; Chris Tierney, A.J. Soares, John Lozano, Kevin Alston; Kelyn Rowe, Shalrie Joseph, Benny Feilhaber, Jeremiah White; Sainey Nyassi, Michael Roach
2nd 35-minute period: Matt Reis; Chris Tierney, A.J. Soares, Junior N’Tame, Kevin Alston; Kelyn Rowe, Shalrie Joseph, Benny Feilhaber, Sainey Nyassi; Fernando Cardenas, Rick Smith
3rd period (45 minutes): Bobby Shuttleworth; Tyler Polak, Stephen McCarthy, Darrius Barnes, Zak Boggs (Kevin Garcia 93); Alec Purdie (David Foley 93), Diego Fagundez, Clyde Simms, Ryan Kinne; Kenny Mansally, Zack Schilawski
To begin with, it would appear that Jay Heaps has plans for Chris Tierney to remain as the team’s left back. Based on this game and coupled with the Revolution’s other scrimmages so far this off-season, Tierney has only seen time at this position. With such a crowded midfield, it would seem to make sense that LB is the only spot that Tierney can fit into as things stand right now. The only other LB option on the squad currently is SuperDraft 2nd round selection Tyler Polak who may not be ready to be slotted right into the starting XI, while re-Entry draft selection Danleigh Borman has yet to come to contract agreements with the Revs. Tierney’s gifted left foot is hard to argue with, although his pace is questionable. Either way, it would appear that Heaps has some plans for Tierney on the back line.
Kelyn Rowe occupied Tierney’s traditional left midfield position for last night’s first 70 minutes, and according to Revolution online host Jeff Lemieux, he was one of the game’s biggest highlights.
Even coach Heaps himself seemed to be quite impressed with the rookie, as he should be when you consider how well he seems to have acclimated with the team having only been in camp for three days. Described as the catalyst for most of the Revs’ attacking opportunities in the first two periods, Rowe provided the assist for Nyassi’s first goal in the 38th minute.
Fernando Cardenas was slotted into the lineup in the 2nd period, and while widely thought to be a left-winger, he was inserted as a forward in the 4-4-2. How much that speaks to where Heaps sees Cardenas playing this season is not really clear, but at the very least it’s something to mull over as we continue our seemingly never ending quest to find a goal-scorer.
Speaking of goal-scorers, French striker Saer Sene was not present for the FC Tucson game yesterday. According to Lemieux, Sene’s training "stint" with the Revs was only planned to be until Friday. It would have been nice to see, or rather hear about, how he did against an outside opponent, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if Sene and the Revs cross paths again.
Other trialists Jeremiah White, David Foley, and Junior N’Tame all participated last night. White and N’Tame in particular were slotted in with what would likely be considered the first team as things stand presently.
The lineup in the final period featured some Revs playing in different positions than they would typically play. Most notably was defensive midfielder Stephen McCarthy who was paired with Darrius Barnes as a CB and Zak Boggs who played RB. Kenny Mansally played forward alongside the team’s only true striker at the moment Zack Schilawski. Mansally, who is not completely unfamiliar with playing up top, although usually features at LM, scored the Revs’ decider from a penalty kick that was awarded after Ryan Kinne was upended in the box in the 89th minute.
So, what can we make of all this? Well, probably not much. Clearly Heaps is doing plenty of experimenting with the forward position. Notably, as he alluded to earlier in the pre-season, Nyassi was used as a forward for the first period before returning to his natural RM role in the 2nd. Coach Heaps spoke about there being some good and bad things that he took away from the FC Tucson match, which you can read all about on the Revs’ website. From a fan perspective, it is encouraging to see, at the very least, the team kick things off with a win. However, there are still some major concerns over who will be scoring the goals this season. Let’s hope that Heaps and company have some more tricks still up their sleeve before March rolls in.