Monday, October 28, 2013
Takeaways from Revs' Sunday win
By Brian O'Connell
The New England Revolution punched their ticket to postseason for the first time in four years following Sunday’s 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium. The Revolution will open the playoffs at home against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday (8 pm. ET), before heading the K.C. on Wednesday. The Revs have tickets on sale for Saturday's game.
Here are five takeaways from the victory that extended the Revolution’s season:
-- Total possession remains an overrated stat: The old axiom about possession predicting a club’s chances at victory was thrown out of the window following Sunday’s clash. Despite the fact that the Crew claimed an impressive 67.8 percent possession stat, it did them little good against the Revolution. While the Crew managed to create attacking opportunities (14 shots, 7 corner kicks, 4 shots on target), they lacked the finishing ability to translate that possession into goals. True, that stat may have been somewhat inflated by the fact that the Revolution dropped back in the second half intent to plug the holes and stay behind the ball. But even with the Revolution pressing for goals in the first half, the Crew only succeeded in wasting their chances to put one into the New England net, a surefire sign that the Crew are truly deserving of their eighth-place finish.
-- Juan Agudelo is best suited as the number 9: For the second straight week, Agudelo found himself switching back and forth between winger and striker. And just like last week, it was a role that only seemed to put a restrictor plate on the physical forward’s engine. While it didn’t stop him from scoring the game-winner, it certainly hindered his effectiveness, as the Revolution struggled to generate shots against one of the worst teams in the conference. Oh, and about that game-winning goal -- it should be noted that it came in a situation in which Agudelo was playing the role of hold-up forward. It’s no mystery: Allowing him to focus as the lone striker for an entire game not only suits Agudelo better, but the entire offense, too.
-- Matt Reis may not have scored, but his efforts were just as important as Agudelo’s: While Agudelo will get plenty of due praise and kudos for his work on the game-winner, it shouldn’t overshadow the fact that Reis put together a tremendous performance. He not only denied Dominic Oduro on a point-blank blast inside of three minutes, but he also served as a much-needed safety valve for his defense when the Crew pushed ahead -- which happened often and early. Reis looked strong on corners as well, and commanded his box well whenever his backline came under fire. It’s fair to say that Agudelo’s goal doesn’t stand unless Reis, who made four saves, rises to the occasion as well.
-- The Revolution dodged a major bullet early after Jose Goncalves picked up an injury: Any hope of the Revolution getting to the postseason nearly vanished in the early going when Goncalves pulled up with a leg injury during the sequence that led to Oduro’s third minute shot. Initially, Goncalves was limping quite noticeably, forcing Heaps to get Stephen McCarthy and Darrius Barnes warmed up in case a substitution was needed. However, Goncalves played through the pain and somehow managed to remain in the game for the full 90. Had Goncalves, one of the best center backs in the league, been forced to come off, it would have been much harder for the Revolution to keep the Crew off the board for the duration.
-- Jay Heaps will have to make a decision about his midfield going into Saturday’s clash vs. Sporting K.C.: Andy Dorman’s superlative performance in last week’s home finale earned him another start at Crew Stadium, but given how easily the Crew overtook the middle third on Sunday, it’s clear that Heaps may want to revise his midfield unit again for Saturday. Not only did the Revolution gain a frighteningly-poor 32.2 percent of the possession, but they only managed to connect on 65.7 percent of their passes when they actually had the ball. To be fair, Dorman doesn’t deserve all of the blame for this. In fact, four of the five starting midfielders failed to crack the 70 percent passing accuracy threshold, with Kelyn Rowe as the lone exception (84 percent). With the reliable Scott Caldwell at his disposal, it’ll be interesting to see whether the rookie reclaims his starting spot at defensive midfielder. We may also see whether Heaps finds someone else -- possibly Chad Barrett or Lee Nguyen -- to take over on the right.