It's been an interesting ride through the first month of the Revolution 2012 season. While the change in philosophy and plan of attack has certainly changed, the results have remained mostly the same (if you remember, the Revs actually got off to a decent start last year, and were sitting on 9 points on this date in 2011).
While the team has taken some time off in the bye week, the coaching staff I'm sure has returned to the laboratory, trying to find the perfect mixture for positive results. The attacking style of play has been encouraging, but is has seemingly cost the club the attention to defensive responsibilities, as the Revs have been caught on the counter several times in the early going.
The bye week will certainly improve one thing: the number of players available for selection. The quality of the squad will definitely improve when the club takes the pitch against I-95 rivals New York Red Bulls, and it perhaps couldn't come at a better time.
Without a match to break down, we're going to look ahead to the big rivalry match on Saturday afternoon at Red Bull Arena. With the players that will seemingly be available to Jay Heaps, what can he do to give the club the best chance of success? Does anything need to change tactically? We'll take a look and dissect it all in this week's Couch Captain after the jump!
Probable: Blake Brettschneider (R Ankle Sprain),
Questionable: Ryan Guy (R Calf Tightness)
Out: Zak Boggs (R Ankle Sprain), Flo Lechner (R 5th Metatarsal Fracture), Sainey Nyassi (R Hamstring Strain),
Jeremiah White (Concussion)
You don't want to sound too snarky here, but, this week's injury report is much ado about nothing. Florian Lechner hasn't shown the quality we all expected him to show, and Ryan Guy is buried on the depth chart behind several players that are just better than he is. This is without a doubt the least damning injury report so far this season.
COUCH CAPTAIN'S LINEUP (4-4-2): Matt Reis; Kevin Alston, John Lozano, A.J. Soares, Chris Tierney; Lee Nguyen, Shalrie Joseph, Clyde Simms, Benny Feilhaber; Saer Sene, Jose Moreno
Here's my thinking: Kelyn Rowe continues to struggle a little bit, and he's not better than any four of the midfielders mentioned in the starting XI. Clyde Simms has EARNED the right to start, and his inclusion allows Shalrie to be a little more free in the middle of the field creating opportunities for the incredibly talented wingers.
I stayed away from the 4-5-1 because, quite frankly, after watching this team for years on end, this team just doesn't play well enough as a whole with a lone striker. Add to that the fact that Sene and Moreno connected on the Revs only goal against D.C. United, and I think it deserves another look.
Stephen McCarthy has performed admirably in Lozano's absence, changing to a new position and actually doing a fine job of it. With that being said, Lozano was brought into the fold to start, and it's his job.
COACHES' CHALKBOARD AND STYLE OF PLAY
I don't want to change much offensively. I would instruct (and trust) Nguyen and Feilhaber with swapping wings and keeping the attack fresh throughout the match. Sene and Moreno need to be themselves, with Moreno using his physical frame and winning the ball to play it onto Sene. Allow Shalrie to be in charge of the game, let him set the tone (sorry, Benny, but you'll just have to get over it) and the let match flow through him.
Defensively is where the team needs to focus their energy. Communication, proper positioning, and STOP GOING DEEP INTO THE ATTACKING THIRD. I don't mind the overlapping runs to the flank to set up crosses for our athletically gifted strikers, but anything other than that has cost the team it's shape and defensive identity, which has led to easily avoidable goals.
Stay within yourselves, play our game, knock the ball around the park, and get it to the feet of your playmakers in space. Keep your shape, understand your defensive responsibilities, and do not defer from them. If we can stick to the game plan we've set out and keep our composure, we can steal three points in a crucial tie.
SUBSTITUTIONS AND COACHING DECISIONS
Nothing too crazy here. Fernando Cardenas is most likely the first player off the bench if a goal is needed, followed by Kelyn Rowe. If the Revs are lucky enough to find themselves up a goal or two, you've got McCarthy as well as Darrius Barnes to shore up the defense, and I'd most likely sub one of the strikers to get them on the pitch.
Both strikers could be substituted, as well as any of the players coming off of injury (Feilhaber, Lozano).
This is a winnable game. New York enters the match on their worst run of form this season, and will also be without several key players either to injury or suspension. New England is coming off a bye week, and will be fielding the closest thing they've seen to a full strength squad all season.
The key will be at the back for New England, and not the front. Can this back four stay composed, disciplined, and hungry? Against arguably the most dangerous strike tandem in the league, can the Revolution put together a solid defensive performance on the road in a tough environment?
New England is coming in rested, healthy, and maybe even a little more motivated than normal. It's ok Revs fans, dream big, and heighten those expectations, because I'm calling for a huge Revs victory in the Swamp on Saturday: REVOLUTION 3, RED BULLS 1.