It Might Be Time To Start Believing
We might have to get used to scenes like this…
Yesterday the New England Revolution defeated the Philadelphia Union by a score of 5-3 in a match in which even a half-honest Union supporter will tell you was never as close as the final score might seem to suggest. While it was the Revolution’s first win in Philadelphia since the Union joined MLS it was also a bit more than that.
The Revolution are now undefeated in their last six matches (with five of those matches being wins) and during that stretch they have beat perennial New England nemesis Houston Dynamo, defending champions Sporting Kansas City, and early 2014 MLS Cup favorites Seattle Sounders among others. Additionally, three of those matches have been clean sheets and two have seen the Revs bag 5 goals. Things are clearly, “clicking.”
The reasons for the first place(!) club’s dramatic turnaround are many, but let me run through a few of them at least.
- While the goalkeeping has not been “spectacular,” it has been better than I for one thought it was going to be. Bobby Shuttleworth and Brad Knighton have made the big plays to keep the club in matches and that’s really all that matters.
- Combine that with a back line that has solidified with or without 2013 Defender of the Year Jose Goncalves in it and you have a club that is really difficult for opponents to break down more than once in a match. Beyond Goncalves, Andrew Farrell is proving to be the “real deal,” A.J. Soares has turned around his game after a sub-par 2013, and Darius Barnes has shown that there’s still plenty left in his tank when called upon.
- The midfield of Diego Kobayashi, Andy Dorman, Lee Nguyen, and Chris Tierney might not look too impressive on paper, but on the field it’s quite another matter. Kobayashi and Dorman bring experience, Tierney brings grit and a deadly left foot, and Nguyen might be the best play-making midfielder in MLS right now. One could probably argue that Nguyen is the best American midfielder not headed for Brazil.
- Up front nobody is too worried that Dimitri Imbongo, Jerry Bengston, Saer Sene, and Charlie Davies have found themselves more or less rooted to the bench during this unbeaten streak. Not only is the Revolution getting offense everywhere (last night there were goals from a defender, two midfielders, and two forwards), but rookie Patrick Mullins has found his groove (three goals in his last two matches), Teal Bunbury is scoring as well as setting up others (2 goals and 3 assists), and MLS’s all-time leading teenage scorer, Diego Fagundez, has three goals in his last two matches.
- Speaking of Fagundez, he might be the best attacking mid-fielder in MLS…why isn’t somebody making U.S. citizenship happen for him ASAP!? He’s lived in the U.S.* since he was five but so far his only international experience is with the Uruguayan U20 squad.
- Add to all of this a bench that includes a now-healthy Kelyn Rowe, Scott Caldwell, rookie Steve Neumann, Jamaican international O’Brien Woodbine, super-veteran and former captain Shalrie Joseph, and a soon to be healthy Kevin Alston and this current streak may have some legs!!
*In case it ever comes up, the town in Massachusetts where Fagundez grew up (and still lives) is pronounced “LEM-inster,” even though it is spelled, “Leominster.”
Highlights of last night’s match can be found here.