After a March month that saw the New England Revolution struggle mightily to score goals, fans were hoping that April would be the month where the sleeping giant would awaken and the goals would pour forth. Toward the end of the month, they did, but April was still mediocre overall, as the Revs finished with a 1-1-1 record, three goals for and four goals against. There were positives to balance the negatives, though: a 4-1 blowout at the hands of New York was offset by the franchise's first-ever win over Philadelphia, for example.
The loss in New York notwithstanding, New England's defense continued to be the team's most impressive element in April. Despite injuries shuffling the lineup a little bit, the entire defensive unity appears to be coming together and building an unassailable chemistry, and no one has been more important to that transformation than Jose Goncalves.
I don't think anybody expected JoGo to come into Foxboro and immediately take the lead as the team's best defender. He was always expected lend experience and leadership to an otherwise youthful back line, but he's gone so far beyond that at this point that it isn't at all premature to call him an MLS Defender of the Year candidate. In these trying times for Revolution fans, he's got to have a few preliminary votes for team MVP. He passes well out of the back, is athletic enough to cover a lot of ground, positions well, and plays like a monster with his big frame. Watching him manhandle the Union attack in the final game of the month was like seeing art in motion.
Abram: What a find he has been. Complain as we do about Mike Burns, the signing of Jose was brilliant. Outside of one poor performance against New York, where he still played great, the man has locked down this backline. A.J. looks better, McCarthy looks better, and Bobby looks to be a whole different class. Jose has brought a calming presence and some toughness to the back.
Corey: Gotta be my boy JoGo. It's only April but I'm already hoping that Mike Burns and co. can find a way to make this loan into a permanent move. He has been a calming veteran along the backline with clear leadership qualities that help make everyone around him better. In other words, he's exactly what we were hoping he'd be when he was announced in the off-season. Smart, gritty, and currently leading the Soccer Players Who Look Like Lawrence Fishburne contest, Goncalves is perhaps the most pivotal component in the Revs' impressive defensive record in 2013. PLEASE CAN WE KEEP HIM?!?!
Brendan: Quietly the most consistent and productive of the offseason acquisitions. Imposing presence and when paired with A.J. has been concrete. Rarely exposed. Good job Mr. Burns, sounds odd to say it, but it's deserved here. Sign him up.
Goncalves' line: 3 appearances, 3 starts, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 cards, 270 minutes played; 16 points in TBM Player of the Month voting.
Bobby Shuttleworth, 11 points: Some say the hardest thing is to be "The Man Behind the Man" or "The Understudy". Bobby Shuttleworth has simply dismissed all notions that he's merely Reis' backup and has shown that not only is he prepared to be The Man, he's ready right the @#$% now. (Matty)
Kelyn Rowe, 5 points: Such a fighter, has his bad moments but his movement, passing and defensive work have been underrated. Even when he loses the ball, he's the first to pressure it and his persistence has helped a lot in games where we have been overrun in midfield. (Travis)
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.