Tuesday, April 03, 2007

2007 Revolution Preview - Attacking

The New England Revolution are coming off a down year in the goal scoring department. Couple that with the departure of Clint Dempsey, and the Revs have their hands full. The good news is Pat Noonan should be healthy for more of the season, Taylor Twellman doesn't have the distractions he dealt with in 2006, and Steve Nicol calls this new crop of rookies the strongest such group he has ever coached. Here's a player by player breakdown of the Revolution offensive threats:


Taylor Twellman: Twellman has 77 goals in 137 competitive games for the Revs. Having signed a lucrative contract in the off-season and the World Cup snub way behind him, Taylor looks to get back on track after only 11 regular season goals last year. Now more than ever, he is the face of the franchise and the fans will demand he returns to the form he displayed in his MVP season in 2005.

Pat Noonan: Questionable to start the opener after recovering from another hernia surgery. Really now, does that german doctor love getting all up in him that much that she keeps botching the job? When healthy, Noonan is the creative yin to Twellman's smash mouth yang. They always seem to be on the same page, and the team's +/- with them in the game has been remarkable. Noonan's health may make the difference between a great year and a mediocre year for the team.

Adam Cristman: Drafted late, Cristman has been proving his worth all preseason. He may get the start in the opener and that's when the real test begins. His ability to put away half chances in the box has been his strength. Possessing a large frame compared to most forwards, Cristman could present a different look to befuddle opponents.

Willie Sims: With the emergence of Cristman, Sims may have lost the opportunity to start the season as the #3 forward. Holding Generation Adidas status, Sims is in no danger of being dropped. This could be a make or break year to see if he belongs in the league. He brought a spark when he came off the bench in his few appearances in '06, but resulted in no first team goals.

Chris Loftus: This 6'5" monster out of Duke may be a project for the team. I doubt he'll see any first team action. However, I do look forward in seeing how he's utilized during reserve games.


Steve Ralston: Coming off a sluggish year in '06, Stevie puts on the armband or the opener. A natural leader who I'm glad to see finally getting a chance captaining the team. Although he's aging, Ralston still has decent pace and uses his superior soccer IQ to pull goals out of nowhere.

Shalrie Joseph: Last year, Joseph was forced to carry much of the defensive load and couldn't get forward as much as he had in the past. Still a thread from distance, and in the air on set pieces, look for Shalrie to hit the onionbag more in '07.

Andy Dorman: It was a breakout year for Dorman. His six Goals and ten assists were the one huge bright spot for the team offensively. The Midnight Riders Man of the Year will need to avoid a letdown if the Revs are to be an elite team this year.

Khano Smith: Tall, lanky, yet fast, Smith took awhile getting his form back in '06 after a long injury spell. Being his first healthy off-season with the team, hopefully he worked on his individual skills and conditioning. He looks to start from the get go, and the team can ill afford to have the left side of the midfield our weakness again.

Marshall Leonard: Leonard missed the entire 2006 season. When healthy in 2005, he was a first choice starter at LM. He's probably the most offensively competent LM we've had over the last few year. However, that's not saying a lot.

Arsene Oka: Oka's a youth international from Nigeria the Revs picked up last summer. He showed some signs the signing will pay off with a strong preseason.

Wells Thompson: The first player drafted by the Revs, Nicol sees something in him that most don't. He's being groomed as the long term replacement for Steve Ralston.

Ryan Solle: Picked in the second round, the fourth Wake Forest player on the team. Could see some action at AM. Possesses great footwork and passing skills.

Amaechi Igwe: Although he may be training at LD, he played forward during his one season in college. He could see some playing time up front in the future

Miguel Gonzalez: Another summer signing for the Revs, Miguel is looking to make the US U-20 team for the upcoming Youth World Cup in Canada.

Well, that's it for the preview. We'll see how well this group has prepared on saturday. Expect my match preview shortly.