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PREVIEW: Revs @ Crew

Posted on 13 August 2011 by Matty Jollie

Revs Face Crew to Continue Playoff Push

The New England Revolution (4-10-9, 21pts) head back out on the road this weekend, this time to the Midwest to take on the streaking (and first place) Columbus Crew (9-7-7, 34pts).  New England is coming off a disappointing, albeit entertaining home loss to Chivas USA last Saturday, while Columbus was beaten by defending champion Colorado.  With the Revolution 8 points back from a playoff spot, every match provides an essential opportunity to climb back into race for the post-season, and it continues with Saturday’s match at Crew Stadium.

GOALKEEPER: It’s the veteran Matt Reis once again for New England, coming off a poor 3 goal performance on Saturday. Reis has been solid, but his season has been marred by a few mistakes in bad spots.  One of the goals for Chivas USA came about when Reis was too late off his line on a cross, leaving an empty net and providing an easy target.  If Reis can remain solid, and avoid the big mistake, New England are always competitive.  In Columbus, there’s no mistaking, the job belongs to Will Hesmer. Strong in the air, a physical presence, the Crew net-minder has been solid all season long and continues to b instrumental in the club’s climb to the top of the Eastern Conference table. ADVANTAGE: Columbus. Hesmer has quickly supplanted himself as one of the best in MLS.

DEFENDERS: New England will be bolstered by the return of AJ Soares on Saturday asfter missing the previous match due to a red card suspension.  Soares was sorely missed against Chivas USA, and will regain his spot in the center of the Revs defense, but who joins him remains to be seen. Kevin Alston continues to fight off a turf-toe injury, Ryan Cochrane has been shaky at best, and left-back has been a revolving door all season. If the Revs are going to have a chance, they need to shore up the holes at the back, and continue to push forward.  Columbus is anchored by one man: Chad Marshall. The tall, strong center back has found a niche in Columbus, and his solid play has also earned him a look with the USMNT.  Marshall has been joined by youngsters Julius James and Sebastian Miranda, who have given a youthful edge to the side throughout the season, fighting their way off the bench and into the starting 11.  ADVANTAGE: Columbus. The Revs continue to struggle to get healthy, although the addition of Soares will help.

MIDFIELDERS: Shalrie Joseph and Benny Feilhaber remain the foundation of the Revs midfield, however the season has yet to offer up consistent partners for them.  Sainey Nyassi has played well at times and at others his play is maddening, rookie Stephen McCarthy has played well in spots, showing his physicality, and there’s always the defensive-minded Pat Phelan to contend for a spot also.  Until New England can find the quality of play from the wings they are looking for, they’ll continue to have difficulty maintaining possession.   Columbus boasts a talented and speedy midfield, built around the incredibly quick (and recent USMNT goal-scorer) Robbie Rogers. Rogers’ pace always finds a way to open up the midfield of opposing teams, and when you add the talents of Emmanuel Ekpo and veteran Eddie Gaven, you’ve got quite a talented and dynamic attack-minded midfield. ADVANTAGE: Push. Columbus doesn’t have anyone with the quality of a Feilhaber or Joseph, and with Gaven on the injury report, the midfield is an even battle.

FORWARDS: After playing nearly 60 minutes in his debut, recently signed DP Milton Caraglio will once again be the focal point up top for New England.  The Revs were dealt a blow when it was reported that Rajko Lekic would miss up to a month with a toe fracture, leaving Caraglio as the first option.  The Argentine showed good physical strength and instincts, but it remains to be seen how good his match fitness will be.  Columbus will most likely be without Jeff Cunningham, which has placed a lot of the burden on relative unknowns like Tommy Heinemann and Andres Mendoza.  The two have turned in average performances, putting more pressure on Rogers’ to create. ADVANTAGE: Push. The loss of Cunningham is big for Columbus, and the matchup of a Heinemann/Mendoza pairing and Caraglio really has no clear cut winner.

PREDICTION: It’s tough to tell with so many injuries on both sides. Columbus boasts one of the largest injury reports in the league at the moment, and it will all come down to who actually takes the pitch for the Crew.  New England sees AJ Soares return, which bolsters the defense, and Milton Caraglio enters his second match with another week of training under his belt, which can only help. The difference in the match is going to be Robbie Rogers.  If the USMNT midfielder can overcome fatigue from the mid-week match with Mexico and put his stamp on the game, Columbus will escape with three points. That being said, New England will continue their decent run of form, and escape Columbus with a hard-fought point.  SCORE: New England 1 – Columbus 1.

 

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Diego steals the show in loss to Chivas

Posted on 07 August 2011 by Hank Alexandre

The New England Revolution dropped another crucial 3 points as they lost to the visiting Chivas USA, but it was a night of new beginnings for the home town squad as they wasted no time in deploying their new Designated Player Milton Caraglio into the starting lineup, and also gave 16 year old Revolution Academy player Diego Fagundez his first major league appearance.

The Revs looked lively in the first half, creating multiple chances with some good ball movement and hold up play from Caraglio.  In fact, New England had three corner kicks and a free kick in the first 5 minutes of the match, but their first chance came from the run of play, when Shalrie Joseph served up a perfect cross to the far post for Ryan Cochrane, but the defenders header missed just wide.  DP Caraglio would register the Revs’ first attempt on frame with a low driven shot in the 10th minute, but it was easily gathered up by Chivas keeper Dan Kennedy.  Caraglio would again come into play in the 21st minute when he found himself on the end of a looping cross from Zack Schilawski from the right flank. Caraglio did well to get to the back post and head the ball across the face of goal but Chris Tierney could not get a foot on it to convert.

Alejandro Moreno broke the deadlock in the 31st minute, by beating Matt Reis to Nick LaBrocca’s cross.  LaBrocca received  a diagonal ball from Simon Elliott in the middle of the field, and fired it across the face of the net.  Matt Reis appeared to have the ball well in hand before Moreno snuck his foot onto the oncoming ball.

However the Revolution appeared to be undaunted as they continued to dictate the tempo of the game.  New England would continue their attack into the second half.  Benny Feilhaber, Kevin Alston, Sainey Nyassi and Shalrie Joseph were all very active as they pressed the Chivas defense. However, defensive lapses would get the better of the Revolution again as Nick LaBrocca would be sent through the back line into open space after Feilhaber lost control of the ball off of a poor pass from Alston.  Revs defender Darrius Barnes did well to get into position and block LaBrocca’s first attempt, but the ball fell right to LaBrocca’s left foot and he drilled it from point blank range into the Revs goal.

Kenny Mansally came on for Milton Caraglio shortly after the hour mark, and the Argentine got plenty of applause from the home crowd.  But the crowd really came alive when 16 year old homegrown academy player Diego Fagundez took the field in place of Zack Schilawski.

Diego had an immediate impact on the field, bringing a new level of energy to the field. Shortly after he came on, he found himself in an attacking position, and with the ball at his feet, he cut inside Chivas defender Heath Pearce, who clipped his trailing leg just inside the penalty box.  The Referee pointed to the spot and Shalrie Joseph converted, and the Revs had cut the lead in half.

Shalrie was very close to leveling the score at 2-2 in the 79th minute when he was able to put a headed ball on frame that appeared to have beat Chivas keeper Dan Kennedy, however he was able to get a hand to the ball and keep it out of the net. Instead it would be Alejandro Moreno who would give his team another goal, as he found himself in position to receive the ball in front of Ryan Cochrane and Chris Tierney, but was able to get around them and Matt Reis and tuck the ball away from the left channel and notch his second goal of the game.

The Revs were quick to take the attack once again, with Diego leading the charge.  Kevin Alston lobbed a long ball into the box from deep in his own end, and Diego was able to get around Chivas Defender Zarek Valentin and fire the ball into the opposite corner.

But there was no time for celebrating as the Revs were still down a goal with just minutes to play.  Shalrie was the focal point of the attack, and with just seconds left in the game the Revs captain had two chances to equalize and salvage a point, but to no avail after his first chance was well saved by Kennedy, and his second went over the bar.

The Revolution will look to find away to salvage some points on the road as they head to Columbus next weekend to take on the East leading Crew.

Scoring Summary:
CHV: Alejandro Moreno (Nick LaBrocca, Simon Elliot) 31
CHV: Nick LaBrocca (unassisted) 59
NE: Shalrie Joseph (penalty kick) 69
CHV: Alejandro Moreno (Ante Jazic, Justin Braun) 80
NE: Diego Fagundez (Kevin Alston) 86

New England Revolution: Matt Reis, Kevin Alston, Darius Barnes, Ryan Cochrane (Pat Phelan 81), Shalrie Joseph ©, Stephen McCarthy, Chris Tierney, Zack Schilawski (Diego Fagundez 66), Benny Feilhaber, Sainey Nyassi, Milton Caraglio (Kenny Mansally 62)

Substitutes Not Used: Bobby Shuttleworth, Otto Loewy, Zak Boggs, Ryan Guy

STATS*: Shots: 17; Shots on Goal: 8; Saves: 2; Corner Kicks: 8 ; Offside: 3; Fouls Committed: 11

Chivas USA: Dan Kennedy, Ante Jazic, Heath Pearce, Michael Umana, Zarek Valentin, Simon Elliott (Paulo Nagamura 76), Blair Gavin (Ben Zemanski 56), Jorge Flores (Laurent Courtois 66), Nick LaBrocca, Alejandro Moreno, Justin Braun

Substitutes Not Used: Zach Thornton, Michael Lahoud, Francisco Mendoza, Marcos Mondaini

STATS*: Shots: 9; Shots on Goal: 5; Saves: 6; Corner Kicks: 1; Offside: 0; Fouls Committed: 13

* Note that all statistics are unofficial

Misconduct Summary:
CHV: Kennedy (caution) 68

Referee: Mark Kadlecik
Assistant Referees: Craig Lowry, Corey Parker
Fourth Official: Daniel Fitzgerald
Weather: Cloudy and 79 degrees
Attendance: 11,523

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TMR Episode 40 – The Midnight Ride vs The Twitter Reverb Explosion

Posted on 03 August 2011 by Hank Alexandre

On this episode of the Midnight Ride Podcast – Hank is again joined by Bob from Soccer Soap Box, and they discuss the signing of the New England Revolution’s first ever Designated Player, Milton Caraglio.

click here to listen

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Podcast: TMR Lunch Break – What’s up with the lack of DP?

Posted on 20 July 2010 by Hank Alexandre

Hank and Steve go back to the Barking Crab where they talk about the lack of any movement on the DP front from the Revs, Mike Burns’s “Q&A” responses and general nonsequitors and digressions and ramblings.

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The Corner Stoehr: Diary of a Revs Fan – Intelligence Insulted

Posted on 08 July 2010 by sstoehrst

(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

On July 6th, Director of Player Personnel Mike Burns came out of the woodwork and decided to answer fan questions in the same vein as COO Brian Bilello last week.  Unfortunately, his responses were far from acceptable to the greater Revolution fan base.

Frankly, fans have every reason to be upset.  The Revolution are 3-9-2 and have conceded a whopping 26 goals while only scoring 13. For those of you keeping score at home, no team in the league has been more pathetic defensively.

We watch this patchwork lurch of a team take the field week after week and get pounded mercilessly like twice-rented mules and the optimists inside us have to believe that we aren’t the only ones witnessing such carnage. The front office must be paying attention, and they’ll understand the fans’ concerns and make the necessary moves to yank our storied franchise back into the realm of relevance!

On that note, let’s take a look at Burns’ response to questions about the possibility of signing a Designated Player.

It seems like since the inception of the Designated Player rule, we have gotten this question more often than not from our fans.

Oh really, Mike?

We have pursued and made offers to a couple of high-profile potential designated players in the past and will continue to do so if the opportunity arises. And when I say “high profile,” I mean a player who works for the Revolution both on and off the field. Any Designated Player would have to be someone whom our coaching staff feels gives a competitive advantage on the field, and someone whom our ownership and front office felt would give us a boost off the field in the community, through marketing, and by drawing additional fans, as well. I think the perception is that there are more of these players out there than do actually exist.

Does this sound a little familiar? I’m going to dig back here and present a quote from Mr. Burns at the February Supporters’ Summit: “From our perspective, a designated player has to fit a couple of criteria”, Burns said. ” Steve Nicol would want to have this player on the field, but we want to have the marketability side as well.”

Burns is spouting off the same dogmatic crap that we’ve been fed since Beckham arrived in MLS.  The difference is that now, we NEED a high-caliber player.  Hell, we need a full-roster overhaul, but a big-time player with big-time experience would do wonders in the short-term. As for marketability, isn’t a winning product more marketable than a losing one? Doesn’t one naturally follow the other? Do you think anyone in their right minds would watch the Columbus Crew if it weren’t for Schelotto making them competitive and helping win them a title?

I could go on about this for hours but I want to try and focus on some of Burns’ other responses. I won’t touch his comments on the youth program – youth development in US soccer is so far behind the rest of the world anyway that I don’t think I can blame the Revs for any shortcomings there – but I nearly had an aneurysm when he tried to shed light on the player acquisition process.

One way we add a player to our roster is signing someone we draft from the college ranks. We draft him, we have the rights to him and MLS signs him to a contract to play for the Revs.
International signings are done in a variety of ways. You can arrange for a player to come on a loan, pay a transfer fee and sign him and/or get a player on a free transfer and add him to the roster.

So, we now learn that drafting is one way to add players to a roster. But what if we want to sign players more than once a year? Man alive! We can sign players on loan, or pay a fee for transfers, or even take them on free transfers! Magical!

Is Burns actually serious? No one’s asking you how drafting works, Mike! I think we’re all a lot more confused about allocation slots and the regulations on intra-league player movement, but you’ve failed to speak on any of that!

Burns then says that the Revs are “looking to add attacking players to our roster in this window.” What a shock. We’re one of the worst offensive teams in the league and have been for the last season and a half. 13 goals in 14 matches (one of which we scored four, so that’s 9 goals in 13 other matches) could tell Jim Rome that much.

The real gem came near the end of his article, when Burns was asked if he viewed this season as a “rebuilding” year. “I’ve never been a fan of the world ‘rebuilding.’ If fully healthy, we feel our current roster is more than capable of challenging for a league title.”

What planet is Burns living on? Was he forced by Kraft Junior to say that? Even WITH Taylor Twellman, Matt Reis, Steve Ralston, and Shalrie Joseph available for every match this season we’re looking at a team limping into the playoffs in the sixth, seventh, or eighth spot. The wing play is flat out not good enough, there’s no one up top who can score consistently, and despite fielding defenders who’ve performed well previously we’re leaking goals like a busted BP oil well.

The Revs squad is at the point now where they’re embarrassing themselves and their fans every time they step on the pitch, through no fault of their own. Burns’ responses are just reinforcing a widespread view that the Revolution is nothing but a write-off for the Kraft Group, a way for Bob Kraft to placate his son and hopefully draw more simpletons to Patriot Place to spend money. All it takes is one look at the comments section to see that my sentiments are not the isolated ramblings of a lunatic:

Marc Spinella: WOW. Terrible DP answer. Done with this team until they care.
Corbin: “If fully healthy, we feel our current roster is more than capable of challenging for a league title.” If that isn’t simply happy-talk marketing-speak meant to placate the masses, you are all completely delusional. “Capable of challenging for a league title.” Absolutely ludicrous.
Jon: These answers (barring the mention of Osei and Burpo) could have been posted in any of the last three seasons. There is no sense that things have been progressively worsening. How bad do things have to get?
Jim Ed: Wow such insight. I never knew how the whole college draft thingie worked. Mike, you are as good of a spin-doctor as you are at guarding the near post.
Jim: P.S. I really like the “if we’re able to sign new players in the transfer window” comment. Wow. IF you’re able? Maybe if you and Bilello ask really, really nice Bob Kraft will give some extra pocket money huh? At this point this team needs a significant impact signing just to be more relevant than the Pawtucket Red Sox.
Brian: “[M]ore relevant than the Pawtucket Red Sox”? You’re being kind Jim. The Revolution would require a major top-to-bottom reorganization to be more relevant than the Newport Gulls or Wareham Gatemen.

It only gets worse. Times are tough, Mike, and none of us fans see it getting any better. You’re not helping.
Are you fed up, too? Do you disagree, and think I’m being too harsh? Leave any questions or comments below!

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The Corner Stoehr: Keeping a Low Profile

Posted on 17 March 2010 by sstoehrst

Early this month the MLS has seen two relatively high-profile foreign transfers grace page three of your local sports section. Well, local if you’re from Chicago and Seattle, that is.

Swiss international and FC Twente record scorer Blaise Nkufo was revealed as Seattle’s latest recruit on March 4, and on March 12 the Fire ended a series of protracted contract negotiations (perhaps they could give some tips to the MLSPU and the owners?) by inking former Fulham striker Collins John. Both are strikers with strong pedigrees who are projected to fill vital roles for their sides in the coming season.

Twellman has reasons to be frustrated. So do Revs fans

Meanwhile, in the Revolution camp, New England announced March 16 that draft picks Zak Boggs and Seth Sinovic had been snapped up on developmental contracts, marking the fifth and sixth new faces to show up in Foxboro this offseason. Both have shown considerable promise and drive in preseason training and Steve Nicol seems excited about their futures.

Still, I just can’t help feeling that none of that is particularly exciting.

Where is the big splash? Where’s the name that’s going to replace Steve Ralston and complement Taylor Twellman, allowing us to compete with clubs featuring the might of Angel, Ljungberg, Schelotto and company? It seems like the Revolution have committed themselves to signing unknown or mediocre talent and hoping that tactics and a winning mentality will drive them to the ever-elusive MLS Cup title we all crave.

Frankly, it’s not going to happen. The current squad is a far cry from the powerhouse that made three straight MLS Cup Finals from 2005-2007, and it has shown through a declining performance in the last two seasons. The Revs haven’t adequately replaced talent like Noonan, Dorman, and Dempsey, and now Ralston and Larentowicz can be added to the list of departed soldiers. Few of the signings seem to represent quality replacing quality, if any.

Perhaps it’s an issue of money. N’Kufo and John, while not Designated Players, will command upper-echelon salaries and it seems that the Revolution just aren’t willing to pay that. Remaining even from last season’s highest earners are only Joseph ($450k) and Twellman ($420k). Only four others make over $100,000 per year. Cap room can’t be the issue, so it must be an organization-wide doctrine.

As it stands now, the Revolution have one senior roster spot remaining. Any hope for a signing on the level of N’Kufo or Collins John is misguided, though; that spot will likely go to Marko Perovic, Gareth Williams or Andres Raad, all of whom are on trial with the Revs in North Carolina. Perovic and Williams come with European experience, while Raad has also been praised in his home country of Ecuador. Any one of the three could turn into a very astute piece of business – but again, they are unlikely to make big waves in the current squad. Unfortunately, I think big waves are what the Revs need to increase last season’s franchise-low 33 goals scored.

It would be a sorry state of affairs to see the Revolution miss out on the playoffs this season. Unless one of the draft picks pan out early, or Niouky and one of the trialists turn out to be undiscovered gems, that could be exactly where we’re headed.

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