Another disheartening loss, this time to hated rivals DC United. Not exactly what I was hoping to see from a team that looked to have turned a corner the week before. Now we're back to square-one with an anemic attack and the nagging little thought that maybe their win against the Earthquakes might have been a fluke. I mean, probably not, but admit it, the thought crossed your mind at some point this week.
So, without being too much of a downer, here's a few quick thoughts on the game (and now I'll promptly try to erase it from my memory)...
1. History Repeats. What is it about the Revs scoring own goals against DC United? Last season it was then-rookie Scott Caldwell who put the ball in the back of his own net against United at Gillette Stadium. And on Saturday it was our captain, Jose Goncalves, who did just the same. Yes, these things happen. But why always against DC?
2. More Than Just The OG. Goncalves' struggles at RFK Stadium on Saturday were not limited to the unfortunate own goal. According to the OPTA Chalkboard, the Portuguese center back completed only 63% of his passes and suffered 24 separate instances of being tackled and losing possession. Sure, it wasn't all bad, but for the 2013 MLS Defender of the Year, this was a bona fide "off" night for Goncalves.
3. Time's Up, Teal. I don't think he's played poorly, but Bunbury is simply not clicking with the Revolution midfield right now. Five games without a goal or assist is all I need to say that I think it's time to shuffle the deck. With Dimitry Imbongo, a player who was quite effective in 2013 in the lone-striker role, and a potentially resurgent Charlie Davies both at Jay Heaps' disposal, I don't think it's too harsh to suggest that someone else get a chance up top.
4. Late Subs. In the second half of the Revs' match against the Vancouver Whitecaps, when the Revs were pulling out all the stop in an attempt to score a game-winner on their home turf, Jay Heaps waited a full 23 minutes before bringing on a striker with fresh legs (Dimity Imbongo in the 81st minute). His only sub before that was replacing Saer Sene with Daigo Kobayashi in the 58th minute. Imbongo had an immediate impact and helped the Revs come even closer in the attacking third to netting a game-winner. But 9 minutes was not enough for Imbongo to help seal the deal.
It was a similar story this past weekend against DC United. As the Revs were chasing United's one-goal lead in the second half, Heaps replaced Saer Sene with Charlie Davies at the 60-minute mark to bring in a fresh attacker in the hopes of finding an equalizer. Unfortunately, the insertion of Davies into the match wasn't enough for the Revs to break through, yet Heaps waited a full 24 minutes to bring in Steve Neumann for Kobayashi in the 84th minute. And, just like we saw against Vancouver, Neumann's 6+ minutes of game time were not enough to help New England draw level.
Perhaps this is a tactical and/or strategic plan by Heaps, but my point is simple: introducing a new attacker into a match in order to find a goal can be very effective. But substitutes, just like any player, need time to find a rhythm in order for their presence on the pitch to be effective. So, why not bring in a second substitute in the 70th minute to try to help change the game? Maybe then, by the waning moments, they'll have found their rhythm and will be able to make a difference on the scoresheet. That's what we need, right?
5. A Broader Perspective. No one will argue with the general feeling that the Revs have struggled early in this 2014 season. But, if you look around the league, there are other 2013 playoff teams sputtering as bad or even worse than New England right now. New York, the 2013 Supporter's Shield winners, have yet to tally a win. The same goes for the Portland Timbers, a team that many pegged as the favorite to win the 2014 MLS Cup in the offseason. The Montreal Impact are also chasing their first win of the season, and the star-studded LA Galaxy, like New England, have still won only a single game thus far. The biggest difference between the Revolution and all these teams, however, is that every one of them has scored at least four goals in 2014 while the Revs have scored only one (not counting own goals, of course).