Sunday, April 08, 2007

4/7 Post Game Recap: Chicago 1-0 New England

Dropping three points to the Chicago Fire wasn't the best way to start the season. However, it wasn't all bad. The Revs did out-shoot their opponents 18-11, but only 5 of the team's shots were on net. Four Revolution players made their first team debut, but aside from some neat footwork from Wells Thompson, there wasn't much to talk about from the newcomers. New England may have controlled play for stretches, but I can't think of the last time the Revs actually controlled play when they had the lead so I have a hard time crediting them for creating half-chances while behind.

The only two Revs who seemed to shine at all were Andy Dorman and Pat Noonan, who finally made his return to the lineup after off-season hernia surgery. When Noonan came off the bench, the team's passing was crisper, and the offense started creating real chances on a consistent basis. Andy Dorman showed signs that 2006 wasn't a fluke season for the Wales native. Both players have to stay healthy for the Revs to be successful this year.

On the subject of health, Shalrie Joseph has to get healthy. The same goes for Smith and Hernandez. Thompson did a respectable job wide left, but he's right-footed and would be better suited subbing in for Ralston each week and gaining his MLS legs that way. Speaking of Ralston, Stevie was pretty unspectacular last night. He was required to pick up a lot of the defensive slack with an inexperienced Gary Flood at DM. I'm happy the gaffer has faith in my fellow Hofstra attendee, but he looked out of place in the midfield. I'm hoping he can be a starting defender down the line, but I want him nowhere near the center of the pitch ever again.

On the attack, Twellman faced the usually amount of abuse from the Fire and Adam Cristman went missing for long stretches. Arsene Oka also made his debut in an attempt to add an offensive spark, but Chicago did a pretty good job in killing the game off.

The good news is that we are only 3 points back from Chicago who sit atop the Eastern Conference after matchday 1. I'm also happy we face them at home in a month. The Fire didn't impress me last night as much as I thought they would. It's good to get another crack at them before they have time to gain some form, or before Blanco arrives. The bad news is the playoff participants are now determined by single table, so even though teams like DC and Toronto lost, some Western Conference teams won and we are competing with them for postseason spots now.

Here's my player grades for the game:

1 - Matt Reis.........6
4 - Avery John........6
6 - Jay Heaps.........5
7 - Adam Cristman.....4
13 - Jeff Larentowicz..5
14 - Steve Ralston.....4
16 - James Riley.......6
17 - Gary Flood........3
20 - Taylor Twellman...5
25 - Andy Dorman.......8
27 - Wells Thompson....7
11 - Pat Noonan........7
32 - Arsene Oka........5

* My grading system is a work in progress.