By no means did I expect the Revs to win at either Houston or Philadelphia to start the season. I thought at best they could get 2 points, but maybe 1 point was more realistic, but alas the sum is zero. Two losses in a row stings, there's no argument there. But with such a small sample, it's tough to really get a handle on the situation we're facing this season. Perhaps more troubling than the losses, though, is the actual performances themselves. Revs fans will want a win for their home opener, there's no doubt. But what I'll be looking for more than anything is a complete, coherent performance for 90 minutes against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Because as that sample size gets bigger, the situation will get that much clearer-and I'm worried that we won't like what we see in a few weeks if trends continue.
1) Missing Kelyn. Last week I said that New England was sorely missing the services of Lee Nguyen in the midfield when they got absolutely spanked by the Houston Dynamo. This week, it was the absence of Kelyn Rowe that seemed to detract from the overall product. Essentially, what the Revs are missing thus far is the tandem of both Nguyen and Rowe. And I know I'm not the first to call out this obvious point. Against the Whitecaps this weekend, it's sounding like we'll finally have both on the field. Perhaps then we'll be able to get a more accurate measurement of the 2014 Revs.
2) What's Plan B? Building off of thought #1, the Revolution seem like they're still trying to figure out their back-up plan for when one of either Nguyen or Rowe are unavailable. Over the past two weeks, Daigo Kobayashi seems to have filled that role as an alternate attacking midfielder, but has it been enough? I'd argue that no, it hasn't been. He's been serviceable, but has offered little in terms of an offensive spark. Then again, Kobayashi is still very new to the team and maybe he's yet to find his rhythm with us. Still, if he can't fill that void in a pinch, Jay Heaps will need to have a proper Plan B lying in wait. Perhaps that player is Steve Neumann, who in theory should be able to slot in for either player and fill their role. Whoever it is, let's get those wheels turning sooner rather than later.
3) The Biggest Worry. If you ask me (and clearly you did by clicking on the link to this article), New England's biggest worry right now is not having a defensive midfielder to rely on. The way I see it, teams have figured out how to get around Scott Caldwell (literally get around him) and the results have not been good. We knew this was an area in need of addressing as the Revs entered the offseason. And while some trialists in preseason offered a glimmer of hope, we're still in the same situation as we were at the tail-end of 2013. I discussed this on the Q-Spot Podcast earlier this week, and as I said then, I think that a lot of the Revs' early-season struggles can be attributed to this one big problem. Heaps' double-pivot midfield worked better, but it still seems to be missing that physical presence to break up play and help prevent the counter. They don't need to be big (I mean, look at Diego Chara for example), but they need to be aggressive, which unfortunately Caldwell just is not. And I for one am not going to feel very comfortable until this situation is figured out.
4) Formation Change? If Heaps' lineup against the Philadelphia Union is any indication, it would seem that he's prepared to tinker with his tactics until he gets it right. For the second half against the Union, the Revolution gaffer opted to switch to a two-striker formation in an attempt to get more production out of his attackers and to increase the chances of halftime sub Jerry Bengtson finding a rhythm (shockingly, he didn't). Well, Jerry isn't the only striker on roster who could benefit from this type of formation switch. In fact, I believe you could argue that literally any other striker on the roster right now might just benefit from partnering with another attacker. If Jerry can't get it going, why not give Patrick Mullins, Dimitry Imbongo, or Charlie Davies a shot?
5) Swift Resolution. Whether Jose Goncalves suits up for the Revs this weekend or not will tell us A LOT about where that situation stands. Revs fans' biggest concern this offseason/preseason has turned into their biggest concern for the 2014 season itself. Unfortuantely, nobody can predict the final act of this particular drama, but like detectives we'll all just have to wait until game day to piece together the story as best we can. The way I see it, the worst case scenario is not so much finding out that Goncalves' time with New England may be finite, but rather having to endure a long stretch of time without any clues as to how this situation will be resolved. One way or another, Revs fans should just hope that there is a swift resolution so that we can move on from the whole ordeal one way or another.