When the going gets tough, the tough get going. That's just what the Revs did this weekend against Philadelphia. Jay Heaps' tactical and positional changes, almost as if he's been reading the Bent Musket lately, were just what the doctor ordered, it seems.
In many ways, this win was bigger than just three points. It came at a time when Revs fans were near the brink of what seemingly could have been a full-out riot. After last weekend's debacle in New York, Jay Heaps guaranteed a win against the Union, and he did just that--convincingly. Let's also not forget that this weekend marks the Revs' first ever win against Philadelphia, a feat that has not been conquered by any other New England squad to date.
And then of course there is the fact that this game marked the Revolution's home-coming since the tragic and unfortunate events of the past two weeks. As Diego Fagundez said post-game, "...getting this win for Boston and Kevin (Alston) probably felt good for everybody." And he couldn't be more right. It feels great.
Fagundez's successful game came after a not-so-great outing last week against New York. The difference maker, aside from being back on home soil, might just be the tactical switch out wide on the right, where Fagundez has shown in the past that he can excel. Without the pressure of having to play with his back to goal up top, the youngster was able to play a more technical, pass-happy game and link up with the likes of Kelyn Rowe, Andrew Farrell, and Lee Nguyen, among others. Out wide, Fagundez is able to stretch the Philadelphia backline wider (with of course the help of Ryan Guy on the left as well), creating spaces for Rowe, Nguyen, and Jerry Bengtson to get into good positions and find more opportunities on goal.
Yes, Jay Heaps should indeed be applauded for his game plan on Saturday. The midfield play was excellent and lived up to everything that is expected from this group. But let's not forget the pivotal duties of Kalifa Cisse, who held down the defensive midfield duties all on his own for the first time this season. Working as the link between the backline and the attacking midfielders, Cisse brought his A-game on Saturday and was a key factor in keeping possession and helping to secure the shut-out. His communication with the Revolution centerbacks seems to get better every game, and he's proving to be one of the most important acquisitions of this off-season.
Arguably the other most important acquisition is Jose Goncalves, who put in yet another stellar shift on Saturday. Without A.J. Soares in the lineup, JoGo had the task of keeping the defense on the same page (a duty usually assumed by Soares), and he succeeded with flying colors. Bobby Shuttleworth and Stephen McCarthy were no slouches either. Shuttleworth, in particular, had perhaps the best game of his career. And McCarthy shook off the rust from last week and stepped into Soares' role almost seamlessly. Bravo to the Revs' defensive backbone in this one.
Another disappointing outing from Jerry Bengtson has many feeling restless. However, Saer Sene is looking sharper every game. He doesn't have the same deceiving speed that we saw last season, but it's safe to assume that it'll return in the foreseeable future. Dimitry Imbongo saw his first action of 2013 and he was an active contributor to many of the Revolution's attacks and counters later in the game. Imbongo looks fit and has a knack for holding up the ball in the attacking third. Perhaps he's due for more time, especially considering Bengtson's disappointing rut of late.
As many will echo, it is unwise to get too ahead of ourselves, as fans. Good teams, after all, not only win games, but win them consistently. If the Revs can mimic their performance from this weekend against the Portland Timbers on Thursday and secure even a point, then there may be reason to believe that they are on the right track. But for now, let's just enjoy the winning life while we can.