A big win, then a bad loss. Another great win, and another disappointing defeat. The early season has been a roller coaster ride for the injury-plagued New England Revolution, which has played some of the best soccer in the league this season, but has also struggled badly in a pair of losses.
So which Revs are the real Revs? The ones who dominated Houston, or the ones who couldn’t find a goal against Colorado?
SBI Correspondent Andrew Karl was at Gillette Stadium on Saturday for the Rev’s 1-0 loss to Colorado, and like most New England fans, he left Foxborough an unhappy man. Here is his take on the weekend’s result (Share your own thoughts below):
Cristman making Revs fans miss Twellman more
By Andrew Karl
An hour before kickoff, sitting on the trunk of my car in the Gillette Stadium parking lot with a burger in one hand and a beer in the other, the black and brooding clouds approaching should have been a warning sign. Not of the impending downpour, that was already certain, but of the dismal result to come. The New England Revolutuion fell 1-0 to the Colorado Rapids while only surrendering one shot on goal.
This statistic only makes looking back on Saturday night even more frustrating. New England dominated the run of play thanks to the play of holding midfielders Jeff Larentowicz and Shalrie Joseph (as usual) but also a very composed back line of Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, and Amaechi Igwe.
Igwe was particularly impressive, his confidence with the ball at his feet and his overall strength making it apparently easy for the 19 year old to defend right-sided attackers Omar Cummings and Terry Cooke. The Revolution defense limited the Rapids to barely any scoring chances in the run of play (save for Christian Gomez’ attempt from 7 yards out which Matt Reis pushed onto the head of Heaps).
As a semi-reasonable man I cannot place all the blame for this loss on one player. That would be foolish. After all, several Revolution players squandered chances and put in sub-par performances. The team was ineffective from the wing, neither Khano Smith nor Mauricio Castro excelled and our most dangerous player from the outside, Sainey Nyassi, was inexplicably substituted at the half.
However, as a fan who loves this team and obsesses over every detail of this sport, I place a large part of the blame for this loss on one player: Adam Cristman. My patience has officially worn out for the second year striker. He is abysmal. Work ethic and size alone are attributes that make for good construction workers, not goal scorers. His first touch might be worse than Pablo Wanchope’s during his Chicago Fire carear and his soccer brain is, well, tiny.
Cristman was completely ineffective as the target forward on Saturday night. It seemed that nearly every time the ball was played into him, his attempt to lay it off to his support went awry and resulted in a turnover. Making this worse, he tried to do this nearly every time the ball was played into him. He simply does not have the ability to turn a defender, and defenders around the league now know this. Ineffective is an understatement.
For those non-Revs fans out there who love to bash Taylor Twellman and call him a poacher and whatnot, watching Adam Cristman play should serve to highlight Twellman’s strong points. Cristman has no clue how to get separation and find space. His positioning is often way off. His runs are ill-advised.
These are all traits that have made Twellman into the goal scorer he is. Upon his triumphant return, watch how Twellman floats out a bit wide into the channel when he does not have the ball. Watch how a smart run immediately follows his distribution. Watch him score goals. A goal scorer Cristman is not. In fact, he is a detriment to this team. Constantly turning the ball over, unable to help out his teammates in trying to execute the attack, Cristman’s presence on the field brought the whole squad down on Saturday night. The team only seemed to show life once Kheli Dube was brought on to replace him late in the second half.
I respect and admire hard work, dedication, and passion in the team, but at some point, overall incompetence trumps these things. Cristman works like a horse and truly wants to do well, this I can see; he was visibly angered by his performance when he was subbed out. But I can also see that he is, by far, the least skilled player in the squad.
Is it wrong of me to be calling him out like this? Is the claim that he hurts this team a bit harsh or over the top? You decide. Before you do though, look at the replay of Colorado’s goal; who was marking LaBrocca? Adam Cristman, and he didn’t even leave his feet to contest the header.