I'd like to tell you to pump the brakes, to not get too excited, to take the Revolution's 5-0 thumping of the Galaxy with a grain of salt, but that would be hypocritical of me. Revs fans finally have their greenlight to shout from the mountain tops and dance in the streets. This really happened, and now we're right there in the race for the playoffs.
I appreciated Jay Heaps humility in his post-game press conference, saying, "It's three points. We are still in the middle of the pack trying to fight away. Every game is a grind of us. For me, we wanted to get three points at home and we started talking about this game right after we played in the Open Cup. So, we have a good focus right now and right now we are going to talk about this game, learn from it and now our focus is on D.C. next week." That's a class-act right there, and exactly what this team needs to stay focused.
New England's recent success is deserved, and though it took almost ⅓ of the season to get the attack clicking, certainly it's a breath of fresh air for everyone that it finally all seems to be coming together. And speaking of breaths of fresh air, how about that Juan Agudelo? I don't think it's any coincidence that his arrival in Foxboro has coincided with the Revs' 3-game win streak. This team had a missing piece in their offense, and Agudelo looks to be fitting right into place.
And that goes for off the field and well as on. I recently read a piece in the Boston Globe Sports section written by Michael Whitmer where he quotes the 20-year-old striker as saying, "I don't mean to say this so early, but this is probably the best group of guys that I've been able to hang out with... I'm really happy to be here, most importantly. I didn't know what to expect, didn't really have any expectations coming in, but right now I'm happy to be with the team." And he goes on to say later in the article, "...right now I am extremely happy, and I'm getting along great with the guys."
This kind of chemistry cannot be overstated. A partnership between any two players--a good partnership, that is--transcends the purely fundamental soccer elements. And so, with Agudelo, maybe he is bringing more than just good attacking instincts and a high work-rate. Whatever it is, I think there's even more success to come with him in the lineup.
But this game wasn't the Juan Agudelo show. Rather, it was the Diego Fagundez show... again. Fagundez just gets better and better, and he now really does have the soccer-watching world's attention. Fagundez, along with the improved play of Lee Nguyen, Kelyn Rowe, and Juan Toja all make up one of the most potent and lethal attacking engines in Major League Soccer right now. Patience looks to finally be paying off for Jay Heaps and for Revs fans everywhere.
As good as the offense is right now, let's not forget that our defense is just as solid as they were out of the gate on March 9th. Different pieces have been swapped due to injury, but the shut-outs are still happening. The secret? Well, aside from that same type of chemistry that I touched on earlier, it's most likely the consistent performances and quantifiable leadership of Jose Goncalves. This is most likely what has led Heaps to naming Goncalves as his permanent captain, at least until further notice. In his post-game press conference on Sunday, Heaps made a point to say, "I don't know if you've noticed, but we've settled and made Jose being our captain because he's really starting to be a leader back there for us and you can see the guys buying into him."
Goncalves is truly the rock that our backline desperately needed, and perhaps is just what Bobby Shuttleworth needed to breakout as he has this season. Shuttleworth, not unlike Fagundez, continues to look more and more confident with each outing. Under Jay Heaps, opportunities are not as rare as they used to be. So, as they present themselves, they are taken with gratitude and purpose. It's quite evident in New England right now, and it's really proving to be the oil for the machine.
Focus is paramount at this juncture, and the Revs will need it in the next two weeks as they play Eastern Conference mortal enemies D.C. United, their other rivals, the New York Red Bulls in Open Cup play, and then travel to Vancouver to play the Whitecaps at BC Place where they have not lost yet this season. The Revs are one of few squads in MLS right now that looks to be able to upset just about any team. So, Vancouver will be a mighty test.
It took some time, but "we are going to attack" looks to finally be here in New England. So, it seems as good a time as any to #BelieveInHeaps once again.