So many storylines worth discussing emerged from New England's jaunty 2-0 victory over the team that plays in New Jersey. While the Red Sox couldn't stop the Yankees Sunday night in Fenway, the Revs probably missed an opportunity to blow out the New York Red Bulls in Gillette. From the starting lineups to the final score more than just the outcome of the game tells tales of improvements and more to come.
Let's run through the two goals. Tierney and Nguyen have been working together on the left side just about every game this season, and it showed on the first goal. As Tierney dribbled in towards their 18 yard line our forwards rushed forwards only to find themselves offsides. As they drifted back Tierney dropped a ball to Nguyen who had several Red Bull defenders in from of him and waiting for something to happen. Without a challenge from the Red Bulls and no on-sides forwards to pass to, Nguyen uncorked a stinger with the outside of his right foot that curled around the keeper, Meara, and into the back of the net. We were up 1-0 in the 25th minute and would successfully keep New York from recording even one shot on goal during the first half. The second goal came in the 84th after a brief scare in the second half that saw a long range shot from Cooper carom off the post. Shalrie looped a chip over the defense and Sene ran on to the ball. Meara saw the play developing and interrupted Sene but could not corral the ball, brand new Designated Player Jerry Bengston followed the play and competently finished the shot. The two goal were nice, Nguyen's the prettier, but the storylines were really New York's ball watching and our off-target shooting. Brettschnieder's misses, especially in the context of Bengston's goal, were frustrating. Brettschnieder will have plenty of opportunities to demonstrate improvement while Jerry joins Honduras at the Olympic games.
Another couple of storylines revealed themselves before kickoff. The Red Bulls showed up with excuses baked into their roster with six starters injured or taking the weekend off. Regardless of whether or not Backe was going to play for a win or hope for a tie, the Revs had to defend New England. Not losing is good, winning is better and home games are the best way to pick up wins. It wasn't a surprise to see Shalrie Joseph on the bench given that he was listed as 'doubtful' as recently as Friday. It was a surprise to see Matt Reis and Jerry Bengston on the bench. Bengston seems to have received his paperwork clearance in record time having only been announced on Wednesday - scoring a goal was a great way to finish his first week as a part of the team. Reis, however, has been a stalwart presence only missing games for injuries. While Reis was not the only culpable member of the defense that has recently let in a few goals that might have been stopped, there was an argument to be made that Bobby Shuttlesworth deserved a chance. Bobby made the most of it, too. Our Revs took our second shut out of the season and earned a win. I'd rather characterize it as a goal keeping competition than a goal keeping controversy, but either way it will be interesting to see who Jay Heaps decides should start in the coming weeks.
So, with this win the Revs keep pace with the playoff conversation. We haven't pushed into one of those playoff spots, yet, but we are undefeated in our last five games and we have shown we can score early and late in games. Benny Feilhaber's frustration showed again, but he made way for Shalrie who contributed to the second goal. I like Benny's passion but I'd rather sit him than see that frustration directed at teammates and our own coaches. Really, though we need a focused Benny Feilhaber to challenge for any recognition, respect, or more meaningful results in MLS. New England has developed both depth and the chemistry to string together some results. This was a game the Revs were supposed to win, and we met expectations. If we can improve our shooting accuracy and figure out the best mix in midfield then I expect our Revs to continue our push back into the post season. Next week hapless Toronto FC will present another 'should-win' game. Here come the Revs.
(image courtesy of Getty Images)