Top Stories

A Supporter’s View: New England Revolution


New England fans had every reason to be flying high heading into last Thursday night’s match against the Chicago Fire. The Revs had made it a habit of beating Chicago and the previous week’s drubbing of Houston had New England fans talking MLS Cup in early April.

One blowout loss later and Revs fans are starting to have doubts. Yes, the red card on Jeff Larentowicz impacted the game considerably, but the pasting put on by Chicago still raised plenty of questions for the reigning East champions.

SBI correspondent Andrew Karl watched the game and his plans for a night of joy were ruined like the plans of some many Revs fans last Thursday. He provides his take on last week’s loss ((Feel free to provide your reaction to Andrew’s piece in the comments section below):

The ref, the red card and the spoiled game

By Andrew Karl

All last week I looked forward to one thing.  With each day I inched closer to the light at the end of the tunnel: the Revs and the Fire on a buddy’s 50-inch HD TV.  My club in an early season eastern conference showdown on a television seemingly the size of a garage door was like looking into the eyes of God…or Pele.  I was determined to forget the stresses of the work week with my favorite 90-minute activity.  Chicago’s early goal was only a setback, as I was undaunted in my quest to witness the Revs rout the Fire.

I only held this hope for 7 minutes.  We all saw the tackle, Jeff Larentowicz showed a few studs and found a little ankle.  Did it merit the red card?  I don’t know, because I don’t trust my own judgment here.  I hold a bias, plain and simple.  As long as a Revolution player’s tackle doesn’t leave an opponent maimed or disfigured, I yell to let play go on.  What I will debate here is the timing and circumstance of the ejection. 

Apparently, referee Baldomero Toledo had forgotten exactly where he was and what was going on Thursday night.  Did he realize that this was the first ESPN MLS Prime Time match up of the season?  Did he remember the fact that this fixture is a rivalry or did he forget last year’s Eastern Conference final and TT’s historic bicycle kick?  He must have, because after only 7 minutes Salazar stepped in, showed Jeff the red, and said “Hello everyone, thank you for coming out to Bridgeview and tuning in on ESPN2, but the game has been canceled.  If you’d like to stick around and watch 3 more garbage goals before the Revolution finally start defending well in the second half, be my guest.” 

Not only did the referee deprive the Revolution a chance at three points, he also deprived the television viewers of a good, competitive, hard fought game.  All I’m asking for is some relative thinking in this situation.  It was the league’s first game on ESPN2 this year, people were watching who had never watched an MLS game before.  What a perfect time to impress the pseudo-fans and convert them to real supporters. 

Instead of impress, the referee took the match, and consequently the ratings, into his own hands and decided that a circus would be more entertaining than a competitive soccer match.  What do you guys think?  Would you rather a referee consistently use a strict and borderline dogmatic interpretation to the rulebook or take a more relative approach, weighing the consequences, venue, and situation?   

What now for us, the Revolution faithful?  For me, more anxiety as still-unanswered questions swirl in my brain.  I had been looking to Thursday night’s game for answers:  Can Castro play as a central attacking midfielder?  Can players like Cristman, Mansally, and Nyassi perform as they did during the season opener on a consistent basis? 

I drove home Thursday night not only pondering these, but also yearning to see more of Chase Hilgenbrink and a 4-man back line.  The Revolution looked good in a 4-4-1 in the second half.  Should Nicol go with the 4-4-2 on Wednesday?  If so, how will a central midfield pairing of Shalrie Joseph and Gary Flood do without the extra body in the midfield to help them link up?  Will we finally see Chris Albright get involved in the attack?

I think the team will play well in a 4-4-2 setup, and they may have to until the squad is healthier, but not until Big Red is back from suspension.  He and Shalrie are a holding midfield pairing that can’t be matched elsewhere in the league.  Jeff looked like a whole new player in the home opener.  He was doing more than crushing opponents with tackles and then dishing off to Joseph or Ralston.  He was winning the ball, finding space, making good decisions, and making better passes.  He’s more and more becoming the passionate, determined, and committed player that Revolution fans will cheer for years to come. 

With Wednesday night just around the corner, I’m hoping that Nicol can piece together a lineup and strategy that will secure us a point against the Wizards.  Right now earning a draw with Twellman, Ralston, and Larentowicz out would be a small victory to me.  Hopefully more answers will be had after our third match, but I have a feeling that more questions are bound to arise.


  1. @Posted by: Bscene studs up; over the ball tackle = red card.If you don’t know that by now, you need to go back for a ref clinic. Studs up doesn’t equal red you are right, when you are over the ball though, that is red. I don’t care what time of game the infraction happens. That’s like saying you shouldn’t call offside early on in a match to not ruin the flow.

    please stop grousing Revs fans. It’s a red. It’s a red, it’s a red. Look around the league this past week, they are giving em to everyone and rightly so.

    Also, the card didn’t ruin a thing. Your team was down a goal 3 minutes earlier so you were already beat or did we forget that already?

  2. You’re f-ing kidding me about the ref, right? Please say you are. They’re called “RULES”, bro. They’re not guidelines, recommendations or anything else. How about giving Mr. Studs-Up the blame for ruining this super-important broadcast event.

    What’s that? You say he’d say he could give a rat’s butt about whether it’s on TV? Huh. How about that. Guess the ref would say the same, don’t you think? I sure hope so.

  3. What Chow and Ben said…

    btw, I’ll take a “garbage” goal over no goal any day. And if you forgot, your team did let in those 3 “garbage” goals which does makes your team garbage. 4-0 Fire.

  4. Unfortunately delirium is all i’ve come to expect from revs fans….it would be nice to have an honest convo with one without being attacked with a bevy of excuses for once (perhaps just my personal experience)….fit hand in hand with cubs’ fans

  5. Love the passion flying around out there. As a ref, I would never have given the red that soon in the game. It’s a heated rivalry so tackles are going to come flying in. Rein in the first offender with a yellow but once the red comes out with the FIRST TEN MINUTES, the ref’s having more say in the game than the players. Talk it over, cool them out, but let them play the game. Studs up is NOT always a red, sorry to those who are misinformed. Catching a player late is a far cry from sliding in from the back or sliding in two footed. I’d be saying the same if a Fire player got the boot 7 mins in.

  6. The tackle was borderline. There wouldn’t be this much debate if it wasn’t.

    New England….where the Fire’s season ends…

  7. I love how the tackle is still “borderline.” Dude…the only reason I half agree is because it was 7 minutes in! It has nothing to do with the play itself, which is a straight red anywhere on the planet! The only reason I entertained the notion of “borderline” was because of how early in the match it was.

    I think I may have to ignore this particular supporter’s views from now on if it is just going to be whining about a Revs loss with no attempt whatsoever to accept reality. I mean these are supporters’ views, a bias is expected and accepted, but not total delirium.

  8. Good stuff Andrew! The game was spoiled for me too, but then again I prefer the carnage! If you aren’t strong enough to get down the pitch while avoiding fouls then don’t play. No blood, no foul. I guess everyone gets an opinion though. That’s what makes it interesting. It’s fun to debate things like whether Chad Barrett is actually a good player, haha.

  9. After Eduardo Da Silva’s broken ankle/leg…

    studs up= red card…it doesnt take a genius to not fly in studs up

    do i feel cheated…yes. but i rather he get sent off to teach players a lesson than have an MLS incident similar to Da Silva’s leg.

  10. I’m not a New England fan, but I like this article… well written from a fan’s point of view. Any red card in the 7th minute better be for a vicious, malicious tackle – not a borderline challenge like that. As a neutral fan watching on TV, I felt cheated. Calling the goals garbage is a little harsh – Chicago’s attack was on fire :), but I don’t think it was a cause for concern for New England. They were obviously still pushing the game, trying to get an equalizer…as I remember it, they won about 5 or 6 corner kicks in a 10-15 minute span after the red card…

  11. “Garbage goals”? Is that what you call it when Twellman pounces on a loose ball in the penalty area? Or punches in a crisp cross from the baseline? The penalty is another matter… and I’m a little surprised, given the extensive and dubious analysis that the announcers wasted on an obvious trip in the box. No question the trip was unintential and pretty benign, but Mapp was taken down in the box, period (sorry I’m arguing with the announcers here).

    There’s a line of thought out there that the Revs just don’t have the depth to cover when their starters are injured. If I were a Revs fan, that’s what would concern me more than a controversial call.

  12. Andrew, I can see this is certainly written from a fan’s point of view. And I appreciate the anger at a questionable red card on a key player.

    But the 4 goal drubbing was NOT the ref’s fault. The character of a team is often revealed in challenging situations just like this one. As a neutral viewer, I saw the Revs get pissed off and make mistakes. Then, they just gave up for 30 minutes.

    I was extremely disappointed in the fact Josef and Reis didn’t pull the team together and weather the storm. Sure, winning the game was probably a long shot after the red card, but I’ve seen teams hang on in similar situations. The Revs just came apart, and THAT is NOT the ref’s fault.

  13. Andrew,

    Interesting angle for the article.

    You certainly have people talking, and that’s what you’re supposed to do.

    I enjoyed it. Keep up the good work.

  14. Well, Andrew, one of the basic tenets of journalism is that you need to get your facts straight. I know you’re new to this whole posting on Ives’ blog thing, but if you go around claiming that people weren’t awarded cards, when in fact they were, people ARE going to write in just to correct you. That’s the price you pay for posting incorrect information…

  15. his leg was on the ground….which would leave his toes about ten inches in the air.

    i dont want to argue these little details.

    If you think it’s a red card just say so Alejandro. You’re a fan, have an opinion and state it instead of posting just to tell me I’m wrong.

  16. No worries Chris, you wont be the last confused by our eerily similar names.

    Right on with the optimism Rockzo.

    I’d rather be facing these issues now than when superliga and champions league and open cup are upon us.

  17. Yes! Yesss!

    Oh, let me taste your tears, Andrew!

    Mm, your tears are so yummy and sweet!

    Oh, the tears of unfathomable sadness! My-yummy!

  18. Oh yeah, and in regards to the card, I think it was a little harsh, 7 minutes into the big ESPN season opener to completely “spoil” (in Nicol’s words) the match. A yellow would’ve done the trick.

    But anyways, looking forward, the Revs have a big test missing the following:





    The attacking injuries I think the Revs can deal with as it seems they have a fair amount of depth in those advanced positions but losing Big Red and Albright will hurt them, especially against what is a pretty scary Wizards attack.

    My projected line up:






    I think Flood can fill in quite well for Big Red, and I think there are enough options in the attack to net some goals, I think Chase Higlebrink is the big question mark. He’s probably more used to playing as an outside left back, not a center back in a three man back line, if he can adapt the Revs can win, if not, the Wizards will get some goals.

  19. Yeah, its DJs at the Garden, right by north station, a real classy joint, much better than the Swan (RIP), you can actually move around and sing.

    And sorry I spelled your name wrong.

  20. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion of course, but remember: that “garbage” is up for goal of the week. (but probably won’t get it in deference to Sir Goldenballs)

  21. Ives, there is a rumor out there on Terra Deportes that MLS just offered JUAN ROMAN RIQUELME $15,000,000 for him to come over and play for the league. Any insights???

  22. Chow – I’m an idiot! Thanks brother!

    Seriously though, my argument is that with a borderline tackle like that, one that could have gone either way, i want the ref to think about whats going on before he yanks the card. Of course it doesn’t go the same for Zidane, that wasn’t a hard slide tackle, it was a forehead to the sternum. Apples and Oranges my quick-to-call-names friend.

  23. is it DJ’s now? I remember the Swan in Cambridge was the place for a while, didnt it burn down tho? Must have been all the musketfire from the Riders!

  24. dpm – You’re right, Salazar was the fourth official, my bad. But I still call those garbage goals. I don’t quite understand why people are calling Frankowski ‘for real.’ I don’t consider defensive failings in letting a man get to the end line with space, followed by more aweful defense failing to mark the one man in the six to get free that turn into goals ‘quality’. i stick by the term i used.

    Kpugs: Is going in studs up an automatic red card? Wether it is in the books or not, what about Justin Mapp’s two footed, studs up lunge with the seat of his shorts on the grass? That wasn’t even a yellow and he had twice as many studs up as Jeff. So by your logic Justin Mapp deserves a red card and a 2 game suspension.

  25. Chris Albright is out with an ankle injury fyi.

    The line up should be very interesting with either Igwe or new signing Chase being thrust into action.

  26. I’m glad for the card, in this game and the others.. i would prefer the style of play to progess more like the attractive la liga then like the hack fest of a mid table epl

  27. So you’re saying that studs up tackles deserving of Red Cards should not be called because a lot of people might be watching? Based on your logic Zidane shouldn’t have received a red card in the World Cup because a lot of people were watching? You sir are an idiot.

  28. Does anyone here know what happeded to Michael Videira, that kid that New England drafted and didn’t sign? I heard he is looking at Europe but I haven’t heard a thing from him. Supposed to be first round talent.

  29. I thought the write up was a bit too biased, but then again these are “A Supporters View” so I can’t fault you too much.

    That said, I disagree that the ref ruined the game. I don’t support NE or Chicago, but I sat down for the entire match and thoroughly enjoyed it, actually more than the Arsenal v Liverpool first leg which surprised me! I have no doubt the score would still have been at least 3-0 even if there was no card. Gotta give props when it’s due and the Fire played beautifully. But again, I’d probably be in denial too if it had just happened to the RB.

    I did like when you discussed the formation options and will be interested to hear more about the players who you think really need to step up in the next month before TT and Ralston come back.


  30. Having a referee make a decision based on the fact that the game was on national TV would have been more bush league than anything MLS has done. You cannot let whether or not a game is on TV affect the referee’s decision. Marketing your product is one thing, but the game was must be played fairly. The red card was a bit harsh, but it wasn’t a ridiculous call. I would have gone with a yellow, but a red wasn’t too bad.

  31. No offense, but the blame should fall on Larentowicz, not the referee. By going in studs up and getting “a little ankle,” what did he expect?

    Sure you can debate the timing…7 minutes in. But guess what, if he doesn’t go in studs up he doesn’t get sent off and it’s a whole different ballgame, simple as that.

  32. Ives, there is a rumor out there on Terra Deportes that MLS just offered JUAN ROMAN RIQUELME $15,000,000 for him to come over and play for the league. Any insights???


Leave a Comment