Top Stories

A Supporter’s View: New England Revolution


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.


  1. I think AJ just hit the nail on the head. As the team gets healthy I wouldn’t be surprised to see Khano used much more as an impact sub than a starter. Once Ralston comes back, I think Nicol’s ideal starting eleven will have Castro on the left and Khano on the bench.

  2. ldq, I think Smith would become an energy guy off the bench in that case. With his speed and ability to break defense down, that would be good for him.

  3. Amen, Cristman only seems to score goals on junk rebounds and isn’t even a sure thing when they fall into his lap. How many one ones can that guy miss.

    And although the whole game wasn’t on him, the chances he squandered were unforgivable.

    Blame also goes on Nicol for subbing out Nyassi, Khano for poor passing and even for Mansally for a lack of creativity up top. I miss TT.

    Very interesting thought about putting Khano up front on the left. How about a 4-3-3 lineup. Also, I want to know how the combo of Khano, Fernandez, Castro, Nyassi, Wells and Ralston (when Healthy) is going to play out.

  4. I thought the D looked uncertain, even if there was only one shot. At least three times before the goal they let balls bounce around in the area, at least two of those off set pieces. The goal was waiting to happen with defending like that. Nicol deserves some blame for putting Smith in a position where he’d defend so deep, because he’s always going to give up that foul that led to the goal.

  5. I think Twellman never returning would make less of an impact on this team than in years past. It would hurt, don’t get me wrong, but this isn’t the same roster we’ve had for the last four years. Its been Twellman, Noonan, Ralston, Joseph, Dorman, Smith, Heaps, John, and Parkhurst with another midfielder pretty consistently for a while now. We have a different group now with the Gambians, Castro, and Fernandez.

    That said, I don’t think Twellman is going anywhere. Once he’s back, he’ll be upfront next to Mansally.

  6. Hey DeathWatch,

    If Twellman doesn’t return to form upon recovering from his injury….well we’re screwed. I think it’s safe to say that without Twellman the Revs dont make the playoffs this year. Ives wrote at the end of last year about the Revs over reliance on him. He’s right, and without TT we would absolutely need to go out and sign someone with quality and a proven goalscoring record.

    That said, Twellman will be fine once he gets back. No ones been more productive the last few years than him and I see no reason to think he’ll have trouble finding his form again. He’s not a player that’s ever relied on speed either, so even if he doesn’t regain the same pace he had, he’s still going to find space and convert chances.

    I wonder what Michael Videira would do for this team. I dont know anything about him or the kind of player that he is. I’m not holding out hoping that he’ll sign with us though, as we’ve seen that the squad is pretty deep so far.

  7. Dominghosa, thanks.

    Torn quad, eh? I’m surpised that he didn’t sign for a year with the revs. He’s a first round talent and probably would have gotten better than the pathetic development contract. He’d warrant a living wage, at least., maybe forty grand or so.

    That way he’d be able to get a paycheck and better medical care and still be able to look abroad in November. I doubt they’d give him a multi-year contract even if he wanted it.

  8. Weird, I think Igwe looked vulnerable and if I had to single a player out it would almost certainly be Khano, for repeatedly turning the ball over and surrendering a needless free kick that cost us the game.

  9. Matt M —

    from a March 30 article from the Wrochester Telegram & Gazette…

    “Midfielder Michael Videira of Milford, the Revolution’s second-round pick (18th overall), remains unsigned. The former Duke standout is reportedly looking to play overseas once he recovers from a torn quadriceps muscle.”

    Don’t worry about it. I’m no hero.

  10. Dube did will, we could well start him over christman whose hardwork seems to be more effective when hes moving faster than everyone else. fernandez is marked as a foward on the roster, who i hear is decent though not a factor in the game.

  11. Hey guys,

    I’ve been asking this question but haven’t received an answer.

    What happened to that Michael Videira kid that got drafted by New England and then tried to go to Europe?

    I agree that Cristman may not be an MLS striker. He’s marginally better than Alan Gordon out in LA but I think he kind of lucked into a few goals last year and made a reputation that he doesn’t deserve. He slow and a poor dribler. Yeah, guys like that will score the occasional goal by always being in the box and being tough and hardworking. But that doesn’t account for never helping out his teammates with possession.

    Thats why I’m normally against the “target man” concept.

  12. Wow Andrew. I hope you’re not a parent. You’d be hell to live with, putting all the blame on a single individual each and every time a joint effort goes awry.

    Last week it was the ref, this week it was Cristman. Hmmm. I’d hate to get caught up in your meatgrinder.

    But here’s a question for you. What if Twellman doesn’t return to form and especially fitness quickly? What do you think the Revs options are? What would you do? Somehow I know your answer but maybe you have some surprise response that’ll be as controversial as you past two blogs.

  13. Smith was tried at forward when he first arrived and it didn’t work. We don’t need to go down that path again.

    He needs space to work and, regardless of how silly he looks at times, he puts in very good crosses – one of which landed on the head of the aforementioned Cristman, creating a golden opportunity for the lead only 4 minutes in!

  14. Once Twellman gets back, this won’t an issue, which is something we have to remember. This team is far deeper than any we have seen the Revs trot out before once Thompson, Twellman, Ralston, and Albright are all healthy. We even blew out Kansas City with Larentowicz on red card suspension.

    Back to Smith, I seem to remember him playing along with Twellman when he first arrived. As for his lack of target skills, that’s a good point and one I didn’t consider before. Of course, with Joseph and Twellman usually out there, he’s more of a third option at best anyway.

  15. Let’s talk about the Khano-as-a-forward idea. I’m glad you brought it up guys, it’s something I was going to go over in this piece but word limits restricted me.

    My friends and I were discussing this at the pub after the game. I’m dying to see it happen because (1) get Cristman out of there and (2) if Khano can put his ball skills to work from a central forward position we could see something beautiful.

    While he plays that spot for the Bermudan national team, it might be a case of them putting their best player up front (i know, Jason Roberts is much better than Khano but I”m not sure he’s even been capped by Bermuda). The only reason i can think of that Nicol hasn’t tried it out before is because Khano must be terrible in the air. Notice he’s barely ever a threat on corners and free kicks.

    I’d love to see it but my gut says we won’t get to.

    And the midfield play is never even when Shalrie Joseph is in there.

  16. I really think you are over estimating NE for the game. Colorado seemed to do well in the second half.. it just that thier strikers are so poor. But i thought the midfield play looked even.

  17. AJ, that’s a very good idea about Smith. I’m not sure how that hasn’t come up to Nicol yet.

    Smith’s speed will definitely give opponents trouble. And his on-the-ball skills and going at people are plenty enough to be effective in the forward slot.

    Although, Nicol probably wants to pair the speedy Mansally with a player that can hold the ball better.

    Not a Rev fan at all, but I’d be interested to see what a Smith-Mansally tandem could do in the MLS.

  18. I’d have to put a lot of this loss on Nicol. Removing Nyassi at the half and replacing him with a guy who doesn’t play on the right and wasn’t doing much on the left is absolutely inexplicable. Cristman was a non-factor as well.

    I’d like to have seen Nicol take off Cristman, move Smith up and put Fernandez in centrally with Castro and Nyassi on the left and right respectively. For all of his inconsistencies, Smith will run at people and he is a sizeable target to go with the ultra-slick Mansally.

  19. Yes, you are being too harsh in your assessment of Cristman. He had a bad game. So did others, as a team the Revolution had problems keeping possession. In the Houston game, however, he played well as a target forward and caused problems for Houston throughout that game. Although you cited a number of areas where he needs to continue to improve, he has improved since last year. His salary is a bargain and he adds depth to this team.

  20. Good lede. Liked the “construction worker” line as well.

    Good argument about Cristman. It’s one thing to just bash a guy but you at least coherently gave your reasons why a player was awful.

    Though, I would argue that it’s very tough to blame one person for a loss in any team sport.


Leave a Comment