Preseason is all about getting the rust out and building towards the start of the regular season. Well the New England Revolution are well on their way following a 2-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes in Casa Grande, Arizona.
Kelyn Rowe and Charlie Davies found the back of the net in the first half and Brad Knighton secured the clean sheet for the final thirty minutes in the first preseason friendly of the year for New England.
Jay Heaps opted to balance out his teams, going with a mix of starters and youngsters in each half. In the first half, the young holding midfield duo of Zach Herivaux and Tyler Rudy struggled at times to push the attack. With Lee Nguyen with the United States, the playmaking duties fell to Kelyn Rowe in the middle.
First, the Revs had to hold off a strong Quakes starting group, with Chris Wondolowski and Simon Dawkins leading the charge along with former New England player Chad Barrett. The starting group did well, especially centerbacks Jose Goncalves and Andrew Farrell, limiting the Quakes to mostly half chances and serving the ball into the box from the wing. The Revs usual 4-2-3-1 formation was very organized defensively through out the day, not easy to do with new faces and only a few weeks into camp.
The scoring opened up midway though the first half when the Revs won a free kick near midfield. From the set piece, the Revs worked the ball up the left side before Rowe found himself open in the middle of the field. With no defenders closing in, Rowe unleashed a shot to the back post past a diving Andrew Tarbell in goal and a 1-0 New England lead. Rowe also scored against San Jose last year in the regular season.
Moments before halftime, the Revs struck again. Rookie Michael Gamble took a corner and forced Tarbell off his line, only to see the keeper flap and miss the cross. Goncalves then headed the ball downwards and Charlie Davies put an awkward shot into the back of the net to double the Revs lead.
The second half was largely the same, with a new Quakes lineup still keeping possession and pressuring the backline. A completely new backline, with three new faces and Darrius Barnes returning from injury were not as imposing as the first half group, and the Quakes were able to find better chances.
Brad Knighton came in as a substitute for the final thirty minutes, and immediately was forced to make a save. Tommy Thompson and Quincy Amarikwa in particular had good showings, as the Revs were forced to clear away many crosses and chances right back to San Jose. Trialist centerback Josh Phillips blocked a Thompson shot midway through the half and the follow up effort from Thompson was blasted over the net. Towards the end of the half, San Jose had back-to-back corner opportunities before a follow-up cross was headed goal bound only to be caught by Knighton near his post.
Overall, the defensive organization was the best thing for the Revolution to take away from this game besides the two goals. Being able to incorporate young players with the veterans could go a long way to building chemistry with an already deep team mostly carried over from 2015. Still, it was disappointing to not see more offense and newer players like Gamble getting involved in the attack.
The only players not to feature for the Revs were Daigo Kobayashi and rookie Femi Hollinger-Jansen who were held out with small knocks. On loan defender Sambinha has yet to receive his visa and is still not in camp.
The Revolution play FC Dallas tomorrow at 12ET in their second preseason friendly ahead of the Desert Diamond Cup later this month.