I know, I know, I've missed you all too! It's been a crazy few weeks around these parts for me, and let me take the first few lines to tell you I apologize, and it'll never happen again!
Or should it?
After a difficult loss to Colorado that saw the Revolution concede two goals in a matter of minutes to lose the match, the boys in blue have reeled off two good wins on the road. While Columbus felt like a bit of a smash-and-grab, the victory over rivals D.C. United was doubly-sweet, as it came on the road, and also from behind.
So what's working in the recipe? Let's break it all down, Couch Captain Returns-style!
LINEUP: BOBBY SHUTTLEWORTH; CHRIS TIERNEY, JOSE GONÇALVES, STEPHEN McCARTHY, ANDREW FARRELL; CLYDE SIMMS; DIEGO FAGUNDEZ, LEE NGUYEN, KELYN ROWE, SAER SENE; DIMITRY IMBONGO
Good to see McCarthy return from his head trauma, which clearly shows that the second he's healthy, he's first choice. Heaps really relies on his strong play in the air, which when paired with JoGo, has rendered the Revs incredibly stout on set pieces and crosses.
Interesting to see Simms get the start, albeit against his old club. Caldwell has been doing a solid job filling in with the older veterans struggling with fitness (and with Cisse doing, well, who knows) so I was surprised to see Simms get the nod. This did give Revs fans a chance to see how different the team looks with either player on the field, as Caldwell took over in the second half. Simms is the ultimate professional, and is always solid and smooth, so I was totally cool with his start.
Great to see Rowe and Nguyen paired in the midfield together, as it makes the Revs offense so much better and faster than it does with Juan Toja involved. Both central mids looked up for it, and their tireless efforts really paid off in the second half when Caldwell came on.
Imbongo over Barrett was an interesting choice but not an un-welcome one. Barrett is clearly the more polished striker, but Imbongo's beastly physicality wreaks havoc on opposing defenses.
CHALKBOARD AND STYLE OF PLAY
This team definitely has a more of a stout defending/possession type feel to it when Simms is the midfield general. He's not always looking to play the ball forward positively, and is great at keeping possession, but his defensive positioning is what really impresses me. He sits back in front of the defenders, waits for the right moment, and ensures the team solidifies possession instead of wasting a good defensive win.
I've really enjoyed the play out of the two outside backs this season, and I have to be honest with you and admit that I didn't really know just how well Andrew Farrell could get forward. His speed, as well as vision, will make him all the more dangerous as he matures, and when paired with a great service man like Tierney, this offensive attack is THAT much more potent and unpredictable.
Heaps is still deploying Fagundez and Sene on opposite wings, but it does seem like they're inter-changing a little more frequently, which makes me happy. IF they can make it work like they did with Agudelo on the wing with Diego, watch out. It makes the attack very difficult to defend. This doesn't mean I like the tactic, but I certainly understand the potential, which showed on the Fagundez goal.
Dimitry Imbongo is soccer's version of the hockey goon. Doesn't always find the scoresheet, but will beat the bloody life out of you until you show weakness and it opens up opportunities for his teammates elsewhere. I've really grown to like him quite a bit. He's an enforcer. If this youngster ever figures out a little more composure in front of goal, you're looking at an Eddie Johnson type player.
Caldwell for Simms 46' - Changed the game. Revs were trailing, and needed a little more of an offensive boost, and they got it with Scott. Nice move by Heaps.
Chad Barrett for Fagundez 70' - I liked this one too. Bring on a strong hold-up player with good physical skills and composure to close out the victory on the road.
Kevin Alston for Imbongo 84' - Ton of emotion in this one, and I couldn't be happier for KA. He's from the DC area, and to make his triumphant return at RFK Stadium surely meant the world to him.
The Revolution will enter the month of August only six points back of first place with a game in hand on Kansas City.
Sorry, that line needed to be by itself. Think about that. We're approaching August, and this team is not only relevant, but challenging. They've got an incredibly big month ahead of them, with 5 matches against Eastern Conference foes. They do play Toronto FC twice, and have Chicago and Philadelphia at home, which is a very big point to make.
If the Revolution wish to stay in the hunt and challenge, they absolutely must make Gillette a fortress. Taking at least 6 points from 9 at home would be imperative at this stage of the season, and would go a long way to determining their playoff fate.
On the field, the absence of Juan Agudelo continues to be a major talking point, but with Jay Heaps instilling his own gritty, tough attitude in his team, they're just simply finding ways to make things work. Imbongo and Barrett are stepping up and making things happen up top, and Saer Sene continues to get better as his health improves. The Revs are going to need a few goals, and it's going to fall on these forwards to create some offense.
Lastly, it's all about the defense. I said in April that with this team playing defense the way they do, they can play with absolutely ANYBODY in MLS. This defense gives the Revs a fighting chance in every match and that's really all you can ask for. As the back four goes, so go the Revs, and with the first four months behind us, I'm perfectly confident that this team is headed onwards and upwards.
More from The Bent Musket:
- The Couch Captain: Revs 2, United 1
- Rhinos 1-0 Antigua Barracuda: Late Volley from Danny Earls Lifts Rhinos to Victory
- The Big Picture and the Future of U.S. Soccer Youth Development
- United States Defeats Panama 1-0, Claims 2013 Gold Cup Title
- Breakers 5:2 Washington Spirit: Breakers Put Five Spot on Struggling Spirit