Well, it wasn't exactly a heartbreaker, but it was a significant disappointment when you look at the first 20 minutes and consider that, realistically, the Revs could have won this one. And I'm sure that's just what Andrew Farrell was telling himself as he headed into the locker room after earning a red card in the 23rd minute.
Now, I've watched the Kenny Miller "takedown" several times at this point and, honestly, I can't call it either way. At one angle it looks like Miller purposefully drags his back foot into his planted foot once he feels Farrell's hand on his back. At a different angle, the angle that was closest to what the referee most likely saw, it looks pretty obvious that Farrell dragged Miller down from behind him--maybe not intentionally, but dragged him down nonetheless. I just don't know. The silver-lining? Since Farrell can't play against Chivas USA, he should be good to go for the Open Cup Quarterfinal match against D.C. United.
But I digress... For me, what's most disappointing is that this disciplined, league-leading Revolution defense couldn't settle itself after the PK and absorb the offensive pressure from the ‘Caps, something they are no stranger to this season. The backline was rattled, it's as simple as that. Vancouver, to their credit, are a fantastic attacking team, not unlike New England. Miller had one of his best games of the season, by my estimation, and the likes of Russell Teibert and Camilo Sanvezzo have been on fire lately. It was a role-reversal after the penalty--Vancouver was riding high on confidence and the Revs had theirs sucked out of them.
All that being said, this is a different New England team, I tell ya. Last season, this team would have gotten truly spanked after the red card. I mean, hell, I've seen them blow a 4-goal lead against the Philadelphia Union and they had 11 men the whole time. Saturday night in Vancouver, the Revs kept the pressure on. Jay Heaps played his 2nd half subs well, and they should be applauded for pulling a goal back (incredible finish by Dimity Imbongo). Had it not been for some close-but-no-cigar efforts by Chris Tierney, Kelyn Rowe, and Lee Nguyen, the Revs might have been able to pull out of British Columbia with a point.
Alas, here we are. It's a bummer to have the winning and shut-out streaks snapped, but this was a valiant effort and I for one am not letting it get me down. If anything, some important lessons were learned on Saturday night and this young New England team now has some time to reflect on their mistakes and right the ship which is hardly off-course. There's clearly been some hard work put in by this team this season, but there's always more that can be done.
As we've said before here on The Bent Musket, Kelyn Rowe is primed for an incredible season. He is really playing top-class soccer right now and he's got plenty of heads turning. The great thing about the attackers that we have on this team is that an opposing defense can't simply focus on just one player to shut out of a game; if they do, there's two or three other players that are going to punish defenders for doing so.
There's reason to believe that the Revolution will bounce back from this loss. With 10 days to focus on D.C. United, New England may just be able to channel their frustration and emotions from this game to a high-powered and defensively sound performance that would see them advance to the US Open Cup Semifinals. Yet, at 5-5-5, New England is back to a .500 record on the season and will need to make a real push if they want to make up ground in the standings.
The good news is not only that things are clicking in the right ways, but that the Revs are only 6 points shy of the first place Montreal Impact and only 2 points behind the 3rd, 4th, and 5th place teams in the Eastern Conference standings. Columbus, however, are tied with New England at 20 points. So, the East is really wide open right now. Time to get down to business.