Within a week, the New England Revolution will be going head to head with the LA Galaxy in the Desert Diamond Cup. Today though, the Revs played their second scrimmage at Gillette Stadium against the BC Eagles in preparation of their return to Arizona.
Last time these two sides met, the Revs took the 3-0 win with 2 goals from Kelyn Rowe and another from Mike Roach. Today’s match saw Rowe continuing his impressive pre-season form as he was the provider for both of the Revs’ goals (Purdie and Joseph were the goalscorers), which helped the team chalk up another victory against the visiting Eagles squad.
I encourage you to visit our friends at New England Soccer Today as well as revolutionsoccer.net for a full recap of the match. I’ve decided, instead, to touch upon a few talking points as we inch closer and closer to the start of the regular season. Let’s begin by taking a look at the starters and the formation that coach Heaps chose:
The Revs came out of the gate in a 4-4-2, with Reis in goal; Tierney, McCarthy, Barnes, and Alston on the back line; Rowe at the left wing, supplemental pick and trialist Alec Purdie on the right wing, and Feilhaber and Joseph in the middle; and then Cardenas and new trialist Blake Brettschneider up top.
What immediately came to mind was the choice in starting Alec Purdie at the right wing. Was it just a Sainey Nyassi injury that presented him with the start here, or is it something more? Purdie, it seems to me, is having a pretty good camp with the Revs thus far. He had an assist in last week’s game against BC and notched the first goal in the match today. I would be somewhat surprised if the Revs’ didn’t offer Purdie a contract before the start of the season.
Blake Brettschneider also got the start today, and from the sound of it had some highs and some lows.
@Hisco5 Brettschneider had a few good moments, but was inconsistent and looked out of form.— NESoccerToday.com (@NESoccerToday) February 15, 2012
Brettschneider had a pretty solid chance in the 18th minute, a header from a cross into the box, but it tipped wide by the Eagles keeper. He is a player that definitely has a lot of promise and a lot of potential, but clearly is out of form this off-season, which was reportedly a contributing factor to DC United letting him go.
What I would like to see is the Revs keep Blake in camp, bring him out to Arizona next week, and see if he can start to gel with the team a bit better—maybe find that form again. If all Brettschneider needs to succeed in MLS is a team to give him an honest chance, then he’s certainly got it with a striker-starved Revolution squad. He’d come pretty cheap, and ultimately would be a good gamble for Heaps and company, so long as he can prove that he belongs in New England in 2012.
Also seeing time in the match today as subs was Bobby Shuttleworth, trialist Blake Wagner, Clyde Simms, Diego Fagundez before the 70th minute, and by the end Schilawski, Mansally, Polak, and trialist Gabe Mercier all entered the game as well. Not too many surprises by any of the subs, mostly just some moves to allow Heaps to see more real game action for the rest of the squad. I did find it interesting that Tierney was moved from LB to LM once Wagner came into the game--maybe indicating that he sees him as a fill in at both positions, much like Steve Nicol had during his time in Foxborough.
I'd like to see Blake Wagner remain with the team through the rest of pre-season and hopefully earn a spot come March. We still need some defensive depth, and Wagner has valuable MLS experience. Plus he is only 24, still lots of time to come into his own and make a name for himself in the league. I'd also like to point out that today was the first scrimmage/game that supplemental pick and trialist Rick Smith didn't see any playing time, and not due to injury. One wonders if perhaps he fell out of favor with Heaps in the past week or if it's just that the staff wanted some others to get more action instead. Time will tell, I suppose.
What stuck out about today's match as well was McCarthy and Barnes starting as the CB’s instead of Soares and Lozano. Well, it appears that the Revs have been bit by the injury bug already, before the season has even started. The recap from the Revs’ website mentions, "Notes: Six Revolution players were unavailable today because of illness or injury: Zak Boggs (ankle), Ryan Guy (calf), Ryan Kinne (illness), John Lozano (adductor), Sainey Nyassi (hamstring), A.J. Soares (knee)."
Six players on the sidelines because of injury in the middle of February? That can’t be a good sign. Now, of course, it all could be precautionary and not really a big deal, but based on the team’s track record of injuries, it’s hard not to raise an eyebrow or two and get a little worried. Let’s
hope pray that these injuries don’t linger around and that Nick Downing gets our boys back to 100% before the start of the season.
All in all, it’s great to have a 3-0 record this pre-season, but it sounds like the Revs still have a ways to go to get to a place where they are ready for the season to begin. Hopefully Saer Sene’s arrival (supposedly by the end of the week) will help the team feel a bit more complete. But there is certainly still the hope that there is a big signing (or two or three) out there, just waiting to happen and inject some life and some much needed optimism into the New England Revolution before March 10th.