Before we look ahead at Saturday's game against the Galaxy let's catch up on the Rev's week so far. The Revolution haven't broken though into the top half of the table, despite signs of potential, the results have not yet come. Last week was a good example as the Revs traveled to San Jose to take on the Earthquakes. Stretches of possession were not enough to make up for a few marking errors and the Quakes knocked in two goals while shutting out our offense. The team traveled back to New England without any points and turned around on Tuesday to travel to the Midwest to take on Sporting Kansas City in a non-league game.
Sporting KC and the weather both treated the Revolution a bit brutally during the week. The weather has been brutal to lots of people in the Midwest lately. Travel plans all splattered by weather ranks low on the scale of devastation. Inexperience in the youthful lineup, lack of familiarity, or losing the mental game against intense storm systems could all have contributed to the poor start in the US Open Cup play-in game. Sporting splattered the Revs with three goals in under 25 minutes. Goalkeeper Bobby Shuttlesworth looked frustrated talking to Steve Nicol on their way into halftime, no surprise. There was a stretch in the middle of the game when this Revolution team played better, but they didn't score and conceded two more goals. This was not a satisfactory trip for the Revs.
As they slowly return to Massachusetts, in groups of 3 or 4 on separate flights, the next game to look forward to is at home. New England hosts the Galaxy Saturday night in Gillette Stadium. Los Angeles wil have only two of their high salaried designated players. Juan Pablo Angel returned to California after the midweek game in Houston, but David Beckham is expected to join his team after a field trip to Olde England. Landon Donovan, currently leading the league with 8 goals, continues to be the face and the engine for this Galaxy team. The Galaxy have had a much more successful week. They beat their HDC roommates, knocking back Chivas USA 1-0 last weekend before taking all threes points from another 1-0 win in Houston on Wednesday.
Donovan's league leading scoring and Beckham's assists, tied with Houston's Brad Davis for top of that heap, suggest that the first step to beating this Galaxy team is limiting their shots on goal. Their results, though, reveal an additional challenge. The Galaxy's defense is excellent, and they have plenty of experience protecting a lead. This will be a challenge on both ends of the field for the Revolution. The Revolution has added players since the opening week tie these two teams earned in a southern California downpour.
Shalrie Joseph scored early in that game and the Revs held on after conceding one goal to start this season with a road point. Lekic and Feilhaber have been added to the roster since that first week. Lekic is a strong forward who hasn't connected with our midfield consistently yet this season. Feilhaber's composure on the ball and nifty passing are great, but his teammates still have to adjust to find the right spaces with him. They aren't clicking completely, though the flashes of possibility are teasingly tantalizing. Dabo was added in the offseason, has struggled to remain healthy, and we'll see if he will even be available Saturday night. The one game Dabo played demonstrated that he could be a key contributor to the possession passing game Steve Nicol wants this team to play.
Against the Earthquakes New England started the same lineup from the previous week for the first time all season. While the result was disappointing, I've been calling for more time together as the cure for our defensive lapses. I expect the lineup to change, at least on defense, against the Galaxy. Domi made the trip to KC, played, and looked rusty. None of that means that he'll beat out Barnes for a starting spot. Don't be surprised to see Domi in at left back, though, because he plays that position with possession passing. I know you are beginning to pick up on the theme. I'm confident that the rest of the defense will stay calm and look to link with the midfield through their outlet passes. If the Revs can keep their composure on the ball, retain possession then they have a chance to take points out of this game. Los Angeles is a strong team. They will threaten to and are likely to score. If New England can limit their chances though strong defense and possession passes - when we have the ball and keep it, they can't score - then I think this Revolution team can win or even come back against LA. I'll predict a New England win, though there are too many "if" statements in here for me to offer more details than that.
(image courtesy of revolutionsoccer.net)