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Post-Game Hangover ('it still hurts' edition): RSL @ Revs

It's hard to re-live a match that conjurs so many scary, depressing flashbacks of seasons past, but I'll do it FOR YOU.


I almost didn't even write this, because who would really want to be reminded of Wednesday's heartbreaker against Real Salt Lake? Alas, here I am with my two cents. Let's make this quick.

Wednesday's game raised, in my opinion, a variety of red flags. Steve touched upon some of the initial ones alreadyin regards to both Chad Barrett and Kalifa Cisse--two completely healthy off-season acquisitions--being excluded from the game-day 18 (Cisse being the more staggering exclusion, but one could argue he is being saved for Saturday). Aside from who did and didn't make the game-day roster, Revs fans were provided with plenty of other reasons for worry, such as poor performances (perhaps the poorest of the season so far) from two of our highest paid players, Juan Toja and Jerry Bengtson.

Now, I'm not going to get into my Jerry Bengtson rage bubble, because I think just about everyone is concerned about the Honduran DP, who just may be an all-time low in a Revolution jersey (yet he continues to start games). But for Toja, someone who was expected in the beginning of the season to orchestrate our attacking offense, he almost single-handedly lost the game for New England on Wednesday night. With both players, you can see, ever so subtly, their teammates' hesitations in getting them the ball. I'd argue that Bengtson has lost the trust of his teammates to put away chances within the 18-yard box (and with very good reason--not putting away golden opportunities in the 7th and 49th minutes is totally unacceptable), and Toja seems to be suffering from what I call "Shalrie Joseph Syndrome", which occurs when a soccer player's legs react a step and a half behind what their brain thinks and wills them to do (note: this is 2012 Shalrie I'm talking about).

Aside from the obviously disappointing factors from the match, there were also some bright spots, such as Ryan Guy. Guy's goal is of course the obvious highlight, but the beating that he took from RSL just goes to show his continued, workman-like dedication to this club. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Guy is a leader on this team in many ways, but mostly in the way that he serves as an example for everyone else both on and off the field. If it were up to me, his spot in the starting XI would absolutely be guaranteed until further notice.

The rest of midfield wasn't quite on the same page, however. For starters, as much as I like Scott Caldwell, I just don't quite get why he is being employed in the lone defensive midfield position. He is an accurate passer, sure (though not so much in this game), but at 5'8" and 150 lbs. he doesn't have the muscle or the general physical presence to break up plays like Cisse (6'2", 180) can. And perhaps that points to an even bigger problem from Wednesday's game: the Revs simply don't have the same physicality that they did when they first took the field on March 9th against the Chicago Fire. Perhaps it is the exclusion of Cisse and the absence of A.J. Soares that is devolving us back into the timid team that we were in 2012, but maybe it's something else.

Kelyn Rowe and Lee Nguyen certainly didn't lose their spots on Wednesday, but they most definitely played below the bar that we know they can reach. Nguyen, however, showed once again that he can execute the dangerous through-ball a la Benny Feilhaber, further emphasizing the benefit of having him employed centrally. Now all we need is a forward that isn't afraid to pull the trigger after connecting with the pass.

Whatever was going on with the New England Revolution on Wednesday night, let's just hope that it was a tiny blip on the radar. This team is better than the one that we saw lose out on what should have been three points at home. A reasonable and simple remedy may be benching those who are under-performing and giving those hungry to prove themselves a chance to do so. But will Heaps go that route? As always, it'll be wait-and-see. At least we don't have to wait that long this time.