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What’s Wrong with the Revolution

Posted on 09 June 2011 by Hank Alexandre

It’s almost half way through the season and the New England Revolution are struggling.

With just 13 points in 13 games, Steve Nicol appears to be out of answers to find a way to win.  It’s not hard to find out where the problem lies.  The Revolution have only scored 10 goals all season, and just two in their last four games. Their leading goal scorer is defensive midfielder Shalrie Joseph with four goals (two from the penalty spot). Meanwhile, the Revs’ new striker, Rajko Lekic, who was brought in specifically to score goals, has 14 shots in 8 games, but only 6 have been on goal, and of those just one has found the back of the net.

But it’s very easy to lay blame at the feet of an inefficient striker, especially with the lack of service  he’s been getting.  However, that is hardly the root of the Revolutions problems.  But one only needs to look at the formation on the field to see the true cause.

The Revs have been playing a make shift 4-3-3 formation, but anyone with a pair of eyes can tell you it’s more of a 4-5-1.  The Revolution wings have been playing so far back that by the time they get the ball into an attacking position, the opposition has had enough time to track back and cover.  On the rare occasion the Revs beat the opposition, Lekic, the lone man up top, has been either offside, or hasn’t had the quality of service for him to connect.

More to the point, the Revolution have become predictable.  The 5 man midfield has been a staple of Steve Nicol’s since the Revolution’s heyday in the mid 2000’s.  But that Revolution squad had the likes of Steve Ralston, Clint Dempsey, Andy Dorman, as well as Shalrie Joseph. Today, the Revolution’s midfield features only one holdover from that squad, and the rest of the midfield just doesn’t measure up.

Furthermore, and most importantly, Steve Nicol had the talent in Michael Parkhurst to play a three man backfield, which allowed him to play two forwards up top.  And with two forwards like Taylor Twellman and Pat Noonan, the Revolution were a goal scoring machine.

Again, it’s easy to look back and remember the glory days, and say the Revolution should switch to a 3-5-2 formation. That may or may not be the answer.  But what is overwhelmingly clear is the lack of scoring prowess on the field. And while the Revs may not have Twellman and Noonan, they do have Dube, Schilawski, Koger – all of whom have the ability to get forward and get the ball in the net.

What it comes down to is Steve Nicol’s system of 4-5-1 is not working, and the Revs need to do something different.  If they can’t change the players they’ve got, the best option is to shake it up.


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