Before I get to far into this, I want to give a lot of credit to Orlando City for clawing their way back and earning a point yesterday against the New England Revolution.This is a team that has often found itself behind this season and have found ways to battle back and earn points as teams struggle to close out games against them. Orlando Sentinel beat writer Paul Tenorio (a great Twitter follow by the way) laments about a separate problem this causes:
Orlando City has played five home games. Four have been decided with goals in the 90th minute or later. #deadlinekillers— Paul Tenorio (@PaulTenorio) May 9, 2015
But late heroics aside, and naturally it had to be Aurelien Collin, the Revolution should be disappointed at this result and their overall performance in the second half which was one of their more forgettable halves during this 8-game unbeaten run. But a point was not an unfair result for this game, New England were unlucky to not score on back-to-back chances off the post in the first half and were gifted a second goal when Kelyn Rowe intercepted a back pass. Orlando's finishing for the first 75 minutes was so dreadful despite generating numerous chances on crosses into the New England penalty area.
Once Clye Larin got Orlando's first, it was probably only a matter of time before they would find the second. The Revs failed to close out the game, but before we get to that, here's the first of three thoughts from last night's game.
1. CHARLIE DAVIES' HOT STREAK
I haven't double checked this, but I'm fairly certain the last Revolution player to score four goals in as many games was Patrick Mullins about a year ago when the rookie stormed onto the scene and helped the Revs win five straight. With the team in a similar hot streak, it shouldn't come as a surprise to see a Revs striker leading the way. It's hard to argue that this is probably the best Davies has played since recovering from the terrible car accident years ago and getting back to playing regular minutes on the field. But yesterday? Just flat out beating two defenders on speed alone and firing a low bullet into the back of the net? That looked like the Davies who was in World Cup form back in 2009 before the accident. I'm not sure Davies can fight his way back into the national team conversation with the United States full-time, but at the very least he's playing his way into the conversation for at least another call up.
2. THE JERMAINE JONES CENTERBACK EXPERIMENT
We all know at this point that Jones is not an awful centerback, but he is playing a new position and is bound to make some mistakes. When the Revs are controlling more of the game and possessing well, they can hide some of these flaws. But during the onslaught of dangerous crosses Orlando was firing in most of the second half, it was clearly only a matter of time before the Revs were going to give up a goal. Jones was on the wrong side of Cyle Larin on the first goal and Collin just beasted everyone on the second but it's clear that with Jones in the center of the backline that the Revs are certainly weak in the air. When Jose Goncalves is fully fit, he should be back at his usual spot with Jones pushed up into the midfield again. Jones is a fine deputy at the spot, but it shouldn't be a long term solution and the Revs should have another option if Will Packwood arrives soon.
3. JAY HEAPS' SUBSTITUTIONS
The Revs are one of, if not THE, deepest team in MLS. So when you bring on three guys like Kelyn Rowe, Kevin Alston and Diego Fagundez, your team should not get worse. Now, the Revs were already struggling with possession to begin with and I have no problem taking out Davies, Juan Agudelo and Lee Nguyen to protect them over the long haul and especially up 2-0. But I will question making three subs that had to many moving parts that might have affected the team late in the game. All three of Heaps' subs were similar in a way, as all three were not like-for-like subs at any specific position. Davies for Rowe pushed Agudelo up to striker, Kevin Alston for Agudelo pushed Chris Tierney into the midfield and Teal Bunbury up top and finally Fagundez for Lee put Rowe more central after starting out the game in a wider role. That's a lot of subtle changes for a team that's trying to close out a game, and it might not have anything to do with the result but it's something I noticed anyway. The Revs were already playing fairly tight and using a lot of long ball before Orlando scored their first goal, but those three subs didn't seem to help the problems with possession or relieve the constant pressure Orlando was putting on the Revs goal.
A road point is rarely a bad thing over a 34-game regular season, but if the Revs want to win the East and compete for the Supporter's Shield, you have to protect 2-0 leads every time. Those are two dropped points that don't seem that bad now, but could come back to haunt the Revolution down the road. The Revs missed out on the 2015-16 CONCACAF Champion's League by a single point last year, finishing just behind Real Salt Lake in the Supporter's Shield standings for the fourth and final US club spot.
So the Revs should be disappointed and the fans should be upset at losing a 2-0 lead. Yes Orlando is an expansion side and are going through growing pains of their own, see that second goal again, but overall they played fairly well and earned that late point as they have done several times already in 2015. It's up to New England to learn from this game and apply those lesson to the next game when they are defending a lead and closing out a match to ensure they keep all three points.