So much for panic mode. The New England Revolution rebounded from last week’s drubbing against the Chicago Fire with a big win of its own, a 3-1 triumph against previously unbeaten Kansas City on the road on Wednesday night.
The Revs didn’t just beat a tough opponent on the road. They did so without a handful of key starters. With several new faces stepping up, New England served notice that it will be a serious title contender which may just have the depth to rival defending champion Houston as well as East favorite D.C. United.
SBI correspondent Andrew Karl took in the action on Wednesday and provides us with his take on the game. Feel free to share your thoughts on the piece in the comments section below.
Revs right the ship with mid-week win
By Andrew Karl
I’m starting to like these mid-week matches. Another busy week at work has been bisected by a great Eastern Conference matchup. While last week was full of disappointments, a hard-fought Revolution win on Wednesday night may very well have increased my productivity. Hard fought has to be the best way to describe the victory. While I was worried when I saw the lineups, the patchwork squad was able to come out on top in a game where they surrendered plenty of quality scoring chances.
The three-man back line was used by Steve Nicol again and performed better than against Chicago, but not by much. While we saw an impressive performance from young Amaechi Igwe, it has to be said that Kansas City squandered some serious chances to put the ball in the net. Mauricio Castro’s dangerous service on free kicks turned out to be the deciding factor, as two of them resulted in goals. I have to say I’m looking forward to having both Castro and Ralston in the lineup, providing quality service from both sides of the ball. Grinding out tough fixtures and capitalizing on plays like this will be key to keeping pace with the pack while several starters recuperate
At the end of the regular season, when the points are tallied and the Supporter’s Shield is awarded, wins like Wednesday night will prove to have been vital. I’m not predicting the Revolution will finish top of the league, but if the team can continue to grind out wins without several all-stars they have a chance. I have full confidence of this team when Twellman, Ralston, and Albright are in the lineup, but I fear points will be hard to come by when starting such youth and inexperience as the other night. The consistency of players like Mauricio Castro, Sainey Nyassi, Amaechi Igwe and the forward tandem of Cristman and Mansally will be key to our season.
It’s easy to impress me and several players found their way into my good graces against KC. Amaechi Igwe, fearless, quick to tackle, and courageous coming forward looked strong and aggressive, traits that I want to see put to use defending our home ground.
In the midfield, not only did Mauricio Castro show skill on the ball, but he worked tirelessly, something instantly respected. I must confess a tinge of disappointment with Khano Smith. That’s because I expect so much of him. I’m a big fan of his and I know he did very well to find space in the box on more than just Nyassi’s goal. He put in a good attacking performance but I want more defensive effort from him. He was often on the ground and petulantly complaining.
This is a player who truly stepped up his game in the second half of last season with increased work ethic behind the ball. I’ll never forget the scene at MLS Cup in October and the view from my seat of Khano’s reaction to the final whistle. He hit the ground, rolling in the grass, sobbing in his hands. If his inspired play the 90 minutes before wasn’t enough, the Bermudan’s expression of grief was heart wrenching evidence of his dedication to the club and the cause. I’m sure 10 minutes in front of the home crowd is all he needs to reconnect with that.
The return to Gillette Stadium will be perfect right now for a team that seemed to thrive on the home crowd during the chilly home opener two weeks ago. While it may not be a harder test to beat the Rapids at home than the Wizards away, this game is more important to me.
Ultimately, solid performances by the young and unproven players who’ve been thrust into the starting eleven won’t be enough. I want to see them come out and fight on home turf. I want players like Igwe, Mansally, Flood and company to bleed Revolution blue in front of my very eyes, just as Nyassi did against Houston.
Is there a better way to show the fans that you’re not here to mess around than by being knocked out cold on defense only to streak 40 yards into the box and blast home a golazo minutes later?
Doing it in the playoffs could be nice.