It's amazing how much this Revs team can surprise you at times, but for once, I really didn't mind the fact that they did exactly what I thought they would on Saturday Night, defeating Toronto FC at home, 2-0. It may be far too early to call this team "hot" or "on a roll", but consecutive clean sheet victories are certainly a great start.
Still missing some key defensive components, Jay Heaps was able to manage a clean sheet from his players and received truly inspired play from his back line, as once again the Revolution continue to impress on the defensive side of the ball.
Victories are always so much more fun to break down, so let's jump right into it!
REVOLUTION LINEUP: Bobby Shuttleworth; Chris Tierney, Jose Gonçalves, Stephen McCarthy, Andrew Farrell; Scott Caldwell; Juan Agudelo, Lee Nguyen, Juan Carlos Toja, Diego Fagundez; Jerry Bengtson
Jerry Bengtson was once again the striker up top, but what seemed to surprise me the most was the fact that Juan Agudelo played out on the left flank. Quite honestly, after hearing from a few Chivas USA fans about how he seemed to be misused out on the flanks, I didn't even think it was an option to play him out there.
Jay Heaps certainly has some offensive firepower now with Agudelo and Saer Sene returning to match fitness, so it's fair to say that there may be times where he's going to have to get a little creative to get all of his best attacking players on the field at once, and that's what he did here.
Not surprising to see Tierney out on the left to start the match, as his service has been much better in recent weeks, and Heaps was certainly rewarded for his faith in the left back when Tierney served up such a great assist to Fagundez on the goal.
Scott Caldwell certainly looks like he can earn minutes on this team, but he definitely brings a different dynamic to the lineup. He's not the big defensive bruiser like Kalifa Cissé, or the smooth veteran like Clyde Simms, but when given his opportunities, he's been very solid. It was good to see Heaps giving him a run out against a weaker opponent, at home, in a crowded week.
Interesting choice to play Toja after the team had been playing so well offensively without him, but with the Open Cup on the way, as well as a somewhat crowded match schedule upcoming, having a veteran center midfielder to patrol the field was still a nice commodity.
STYLE OF PLAY
If it isn't broke, don't fix it. The Revolution continue to get outstanding performances all over the park, most notably with a somewhat makeshift back line. It's not so much that the quality isn't there at the back, it just seems to me that no matter who gets plugged in, they do the job.
There has been at least one constant at the back, and that's Gonçalves. He's been an absolute rock and leader, and there is no mistaking that the reason the back line never seems to waver amidst all of the changes, is because of his presence and leadership.
In the middle, the Revs had an incredibly dynamic partnership on the wings with Fagundez and Agudelo, and after listening to the two of them speak about how they've grown a good chemistry quite quickly, and given the fact that they already seem to fluidly swap sides so freely, this could perhaps be a very dangerous offensive combination.
Up top, Jerry Bengtson just still can't seem to click. Fans are starting to pick up on it now too, and some are even suggesting it just might not be the right spot for him at all here in New England. You get the sneaking sense that this team is building something special here, but the question remains if Bengtson is even going to be a part of it? At the moment, it certainly doesn't feel like he has a big imprint on this club's fortunes.
SUBSTITUTIONS AND DECISIONS
KELYN ROWE for JUAN TOJA 61'
SAER SENE for JERRY BENGTSON 72'
ANDY DORMAN for SCOTT CALDWELL 82'
Good stuff all around from Jay Heaps in this one. Liked the Rowe sub, giving the team a little more punch offensively as they pushed for the second goal.
Saer Sene was definitely a shot in the arm for the Revs attack, and now I know I'm not crazy when I feel like the team just seems more dangerous when he's on the field. With Sene, Agudelo, Fagundez, Nguyen, and Rowe on the field at the same time, this team just felt loaded up front.
Great shift from Caldwell on the night, and I really liked seeing Heaps bringing in the defensive minded veteran to close out the match (which was only 1-0 at the time). Dorman brought a good presence, as well as a little teeth to the defense. He helped cement the clean sheet, and secured the win.
Not even going to remotely play the over-reaction game here, but you can't help but feel like this club is starting to turn a corner. Players are returning healthy, and the team feels like it finally has enough offensive firepower to complement their stellar defense.
With the match schedule getting a little crowded, and summer competitions like the Gold Cup and World Cup Qualifying on the horizon, it's going to be extremely important for Jay Heaps to discover which players he's going to be able to lean on when he has to make changes over the course of the summer.
You certainly feel a little better about losing Jerry to Honduras a few times this summer than you did in March, and with several youngsters stepping up and showing they're ready for the spotlight, perhaps the summer doesn't seem as daunting as it once did.
The most important thing facing this team at the moment is to continue the momentum they've created, and to stay healthy. There's serious chemistry being built here, and the Revs don't need anything disturbing their solid run of form.