March was an up and down month for the New England Revolution. After opening their 2013 season with an important away win in Chicago - one in which their star designated player Jerry Bengtson got his season off to an excellent start with a goal - they went 0-2-1 thereafter, and didn't score a single goal. Not the start Revs fans were looking for after an optimistic preseason.
The lone bright spot last month was the defense. New England has the best defensive record in MLS just one goal allowed over four games, and they've already posted two clean sheets. With the defense emerging as the obvious star in a drab month, it should come as no surprise that our top three choices for Player of the Month play in the back. Leading the charge for the Revs is none other than the Revs' first-ever number one pick, Andrew Farrell.
He wasn't always perfect, and the games weren't always pretty, but Farrell has displayed fearlessness, technique, and defensive acumen every week in this young season. His passing is generally crisp, but even more refreshing is his steadfast refusal to hoof it out of the back. It got him into a spot of trouble against Chicago, but nevertheless it's been a welcome sight to watch him dribble around pressure and lay the ball off into midfield rather than thump it aimlessly like his fellow back line members. Offensively, he's been involved, but a general lack of movement and attacking alacrity in the team has minimized his effectiveness.
Brendan: I'll suffer through an entire year of rookie mistakes for the payoff that Farrell will eventually become. Speed, strength and effort form a dynamic package that is Andrew Farrell. Much like Toja, we are asking a lot early on from a rookie and he's performed more than adequately. Rough around the edges? Sure, but I think everyone can understand once those edges are sanded down we'll have one of the best backs in the league and a future US National Team player. Can't wait to see what he does to Thierry Henry.
Matty: Alright, I'm impressed. You certainly see exactly why the Revs did whatever it took to move up to the #1 slot to draft Farrell. The physical tools are all on display, but for me, it's his ability to play well beyond his years and bring a hunger and desire to what had become a stale Revs defense in recent years.
Corey: A handful of rookie mistakes but this kid is electrifying. HATES giving up throw-ins to the opponent so much so that he will BICYCLE KICK that stuff from going out of bounds. Charges up the field like a skillful madman and tracks back like a PRO. This kid is the real deal and is showing the entire league just why we moved up to get him.
Farrell's Line: 4 appearances, 4 starts, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 cards, 360 minutes played; 8 points in TBM Player of the Month voting.
Matt Reis, 7 points: When a defense remains stout, yet no player off the backline sticks out, you have to go with the keeper. Two games played, two clean sheets, and some saves that make you want to check his birth certificate. Reis has been as much of a leader on this squad in March as any single player. (Abram)
A.J. Soares, 6 points: Displaying leadership both on and off the pitch and in many ways leading by example. Has been a rock along the backline and to my recollection has made no glaring mistakes whatsoever. Pairing very well with Jose Goncalves and might be finally fully recovered from that knee thing that was nagging him the past 2 seasons. Looks to be in the best form we've ever seen him in and I think there are more good things to come. If I were Jay Heaps, I would have given him the captain's armband on day one. (Corey)
The Player of the Month is compiled by members of The Bent Musket's staff. Each writer selects his top three Revolution players for the month, who are assigned point values - three points for the #1, two for the #2, and one for the #3. Then, points are totaled and the player who received the most points in the voting is named Player of the Month. Honorable mentions go to the next two players in the voting.