I guess the MLS Fair Play Award is based more on statistics and performance than sentimentality as Michael Parkhurst was the winner for the 2007 season.
In 25 league appearances, Parky committed an astonishingly low 5 fouls with no cautions or ejections. That's incredible considering he is the anchor of a three man back line. Granted, he was cautioned in the first playoff game, but everyone slips up now and then. (click title to read more)
The sentimental pick would have been Cobi Jones, who has been with the LA Galaxy since the league's inception. However, the dreadlocked old-timer committed 22 fouls and was cautioned once. The other finalist Eddie Pope, also retiring, committed 27 fouls.
Parkhurst is in his third season with the Revs. He may be one of the most unsung players in the league. This is undoubtedly due to the way he quietly negates opposing attacks by always being in position, organizes the defense, and always seems to keep his heartbeat at 40 beats per minute.
Ireland dropped the ball for not taking advantage of his Irish passport earlier in the Cranston, RI native's career. The Irish defense has been very disorganized as of late, and they would be getting an intelligent defender in the Gareth Southgate mold. Luckily for the US, he earned his first cap for the national team over the summer and Ireland in SOL. That's also good for Revs fans. If he had been showcased on the European stage earlier, he would be playing in the Premiership right now.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Word on the street is the New England Revolution organization is hard at work removing the football markings as best they can for the playoff game on Saturday. This is another positive sign for a front office that has, in the past, been viewed as sacrificing the promotion of soccer in this country in favor of the bottom line. The upcoming game will be televised nationally on Fox Soccer Channel, and there is an outside chance of hosting the next round on ESPN2 on Thursday. Needless to say, it's a step forward for the Krafts to be spending the money towards the presentation of a showcase game. (click title to read more)
To acknowledge this as a positive sign, you must look at the environmental conditions which preceded our current circumstance. Robert Kraft was a charter owner in MLS. At first, the novelty of the league sold itself and the Revs had one of the league's best followings. As the new car small faded four years later, what was left was a league that appeared to be in jeopardy, a dwindling fanbase dejected over a poor team and non-existent customer service, and an owner bitter from the Patriots' Boston stadium fight.
It was around this time that AEG, Hunt Sports Group, and Kraft decided the league was worth saving. The first two joining with MLS to form Soccer United Marketing (SUM) in what would prove to be a very successful attempt to control all important soccer events in the United States culminating with the grabbing of TV rights to the 2002 and 2006 World Cup. Kraft, on the other hand, was content with financially backing his soccer operations, sharing losses with the other MLS owners, all while trying to run the Revolution as an entity separate from his other, more successful ventures. This meant running the Revs with a reduced budget while waiting for soccer to take off. The other two ownership groups weren't waiting for the sport to take off, they were trying to get it to take off, cost be damn. After all, they were backed by a recluse billionaire and an aging billionaire willing to take huge losses. That's just not how the Krafts do things.
How bad did it get? Well, there were years without replica jerseys in the pro shop, trouble getting walk-up tickets on game day (loads of seats, no ticket booth attendants), draconian security guards, a lack of any high profile import since Walter Zenga, unused allocations, and a downward trending attendance which seemed destined to be the league's worse sometime in the future. Luckily, the team's on field fortunes turned around with the permanent hire of manager Stevie Nicol in 2002 and they never looked back. The league signed a uniform contract in 2005 which largely lifted the merchandising burden from the team. Also, the growing numbers in organized supporter groups forced the front office to acknowledge some of the widespread concerns. Still, the Revs have always seemed to be the team resisting positive change in MLS. Such recent initiatives such as the designated player rule and the establishment of youth teams haven't been touched by the Revs. They are also the only team never to speak of serious concrete plans to build a soccer specific stadium.
The straw seemed to break the camel's back last November when it was announced the natural grass surface at Gillette Stadium would be replaced with fieldturf. Sure, it's the Fifa approved newer style, but one of the major gripes with the artificial surface is that NFL markings look gawdawful when soccer is being played on it. To make matters worse, front office personnel had stated that removing the lines require too much time and manpower to complete in short order.
With the word that they are at least attempting to dull the lines, it shows they are attempting to address the soccer fans' needs. Couple that with the rumored hiring of temporary sales personnel for the playoff game, and the Revolution appear to finally be "getting it". Now, if they can only sign a proven playmaker at midfield, announce the construction of a stadium, and loosen some select security restrictions, we'll be in business.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Four New England players are up for end of season awards in MLS: Matt Reis, Michael Parkhurst, Pat Noonan, and Adam Cristman.
Matt Reis is nominated for Goalkeeper of the year. Although Matt has come up big several times this year, his GAA is around half a goal higher than his competition. He's not going to win this award, but he's far from unsung among Revolution supporters. "We all dream of a team of Matt Reis(s)" and "Don't cha wish your goalie was just like Reis" have gotten regular play in the supporter song rotation this year.
Adam Cristman is up for rookie of the year. The late round pick had four goals and four assists this season. However, he didn't have the minutes to compete with Toronto's Maurice Edu or New York's Dane Richards. Keeping of the new songs tip, we'll probably have to change the last line of "You wish you had Adam Cristman" from "the rookie of the year" to something like "the mullet has no fear". That's contingent on him growing it back, of course. I'm thinking his wife made him cut it off at the wedding. Women are evil like that.
Michael Parkhurst is up for two awards: Fair Play and Defender of the Year. The 2007 Fair Play Award will be Cobi Jones' send off medal, so that isn't happening for Parky, even though he once again put up a remarkably low 27 fouls for a central defender. He may have a shot at DOY, but Claudio Suarez at Chivas has gotten a lot of pub and Eddie Robinson has anchored a lights out defense at Houston since June.
Pat Noonan rounds out the list of Revs award nominees as he is up for Comeback Player of the Year. That award usually goes to someone who came out of nowhere. Noonan was hurt for much of last season, but made an impact during the 2006 playoffs and signed a phat contract during the off season. Not exactly under the radar stuff.
All of this is a dog and pony fluff-off, especially in a thirteen team league. Real accolades come from lifting MLS Cup in November. The players will tell you as much.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Superliga, or "Super League" for those engaged in legal commerce in the United States, is an annual competition between MLS and FMF (Mexico) clubs. Last year was the inaugural competition, with eight teams playing in two group stages and four moving on to the semifinals.
Last year, despite some lame justification after the fact (Don Garber tried to say LA Galaxy "earned" their spot by being runners-up in the USOC over the two MLS Cup finalist, both which had much better regular seasons), the MLS participants were hand-picked. In essence, it was a dry run which Mexican side Pachuca won. All in all, it's a great idea which will provide some intriguing matchups in years to come during the summer grind. In short, it's something the Revs should want to be in and for Revs supporters, something they should be excited to go watch.
According to MLS commissioner Don Garber, the teams in next year's Superliga will consist of those with the four best regular season records in 2007. The Revolution finished comfortably in fourth, so that should mean qualification, right?
(click title to read more)
Not so fast. First off, Garber stated the qualification method in one or two announcements/press releases. In other words, this is by no means set in stone. In the great scheme of things, there aren't a heck of a lot of people in the media who listen to what comes out of MLS central and hold their feet to the fire. They can just as easily go back on their word if the right situation presented itself.
Enter the New England Revolution. They are the team with the worst record of those that supposedly qualified. They are also a team who has been accused in the past of dragging their feet when it comes to moving the game forward in America (i.e. lack of soccer specific stadium, fieldturf, no serious youth program, quarantining fans to one side, etc...). Also, the president of Kraft Soccer is Sunil Gulati. Gulati hold several other hats in the soccer world, including president of US Soccer. He was instrumental in creating Superliga and would need to make a decision which is not only best for the Revs, but for the competition.
The most likely scenario denying the Revs Superliga participation involves a team seeded lower than them winning MLS Cup. That's a very real possibility with every lower seed save Red Bull New York holding a 1-0 lead heading into the return legs this week. Last year, Chicago Fire were initially in Superliga (originally "justified" by winning the US Open Cup). That selection had everything to do with their soccer stadium, which would have been fine if they were just up front about it. However, the Mexican delegation justifiably raised a stink because the MLS Cup champions, Houston Dynamo, were left out. Since both teams were then owned by AEG, it was an easy switch. The same thing would likely happen this year if the champs were on the outside looking in. To be honest, the Revs would have no one to blame for that situation but themselves. They foolishly dropped at least three easy points in the last two games. If they had one extra point, they would have tied Houston, who they got the better of in head to head play for the tiebreaker.
MLS is serious about having a legitimate qualification process for Superliga. However, they often fail to ask those "what if?" questions. For example, the 2007 Western Conference trophy could go to the Kansas City Wizards (DOH!). Don Garber certainly had the best intentions when he said the top four regular season records will be in Superliga. However, someone forgot to ask him what would happen if the eighth seed ran the table. They could, and almost surely will, backtrack in this scenario. As a qualification process, I have no problem with that. I just have to ask why on Earth they went out and made the "top four" comments.
There's also a few other unlikely possibilities which would boot the Revs, but those would involve shenanigans of the highest order. I have a bet with a friend involving one such scenario. According to him, LA Galaxy will receive a bid based on the fact they made it to the finals of Superliga last year. They are desperate for ratings (it aired on one of the Univision-owned stations), and having David Beckham involved would be a huge boost. You could also throw Chicago and Blanco in that conversation, but they would definitely have to win it all to get in, in my opinion. On that bet, this is a soft reminder that I haven't forgotten about it. You know who you are.
If this were to occur, it would set the competition back a ways in legitimacy. You can't announce qualification standards and then completely throw it out the window for marketing purposes.
Any of the above scenarios can be negated if Sunil Gulati sticks up for the MLS side which employs him. He is probably the only one who can hold Garber to his word. For that to happen, others in the Revolution organization need to let owner Robert Kraft in on the benefits of hosting this event. These games can always be coupled with international doubleheaders. Sure, some fans will only be there for the other game, but playing a game that serves as a measuring stick for MLS's progress in front of an "international audience" wouldn't be a bad idea. Just a thought. It also wouldn't be horrible to offer some special events that aren't mostly doubleheaders with games that were already included in the season tickets package.
We'll concentrate more on this during the off season. I'm just giving those Revs fans who trust Don Garber and are excited about the team's Superliga participation a little heads up.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
The Revs escaped New York Saturday night with a 0-0 draw. Surprisingly, they are in a better position heading into the 2nd leg than any other higher seeded team in the MLS Cup playoffs. Although the Revs hold a slight advantage going into next Saturday's return leg, it's hard to argue this series is anything but a toss up. I made the bus trip and joined some seventy fellow Revolution supporters in the Meadowland to cheer on the boys. A few things stood out while watching the game from high atop the away support quarantine zone. (click title to read more)
The first thing that should be obvious to everyone who watched the game is how much the right side of Red Bull New York, led by rookie midfielder/Arnold Drumman stand-in Dane Richards, dominated our left side. Khano Smith just couldn't get anything going, was run ragged, and was out of position far too often. Avery John had his worst game in a Revs kit in quite some time, compounding the situation. The local side was one bad field turf bounce away from being down in the series. Maybe that should read "one natural bounce" as the Red Bulls fell prey to the turf monster several times, ending more than a few attacking sequences. That new stadium can't come soon enough. Back on the original point, in the short term, our left side will cost us the series if it doesn't play better. In the long term, it needs a major overhaul. Hopefully, Amaechi Igwe's the answer next year, but I don't want to rely on a youngster curing our left-sided woes.
The second major thing I noticed was how much the Revs indeed bunkered down for the draw. It probably wasn't so apparent on TV, but during many attacks, Joseph and Larentowicz hung back around midfield leaving huge tracks of land in between them and the inevitable errant cross behind the single attacking wave. At least they didn't put ten men in the box like we've seen in the past. Actually, the New England defenders were very aggressive and physical with the Red Bull attack. One of the positives from last night was how much they frustrated Juan Pablo Angel. However, it's yet to be seen how they will handle him when the field is stretched in a game where the Revs are actually trying to score a goal.
We'll have more on this series later on in the week, as well as a recap of the road trip. It was a good time with a lot of new faces, which is damn good to see.
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Thursday, October 25, 2007
Hello all, I am Ben (SuperRevsGooner for those of you with BigSoccer accounts). I'm introducing myself because now I will be popping in pretty often to subject you to my thoughts and opinions. Enjoy!
Now that that's out of the way, I've got a bit of a different playoff preview for you.
The winning gods are smiling on New England these days. What, with the Red Sox destroying the Rockies in Game 1 of the World Series, the Pats doing what they do best (making Vince Lombardi poo a little), and the Bruins...well, I don't watch hockey.
Point is, the Revs go into New York with a shadow on their shoulders. Not only did they go their last three games losing to Fire, Crew and drawing to Canada-eh, but they haven't ever won it all. Despite so many teams killing so much playoff fodder, we still haven't found a way to win it. We need October, God.
That's a bit of a disappointment, right? We are the guys who touted JMM and Demps and Twells and Noons and all those guys, and we couldn't find a way to win. And now the league is even more difficult; with the exception of the Crew, every single team in MLS has one or two decent players who can really change the course of the game, which wasn't true in all of those seasons we looked so good at the end of the year. MLS went from a crappy, third-rate league four years ago to a very strong second- to lower-first-rate league this year.
The Revs are going to really have to step it up in NY to get a win there, so they can come home and hopefully build some momentum before moving along in the bracket. It's going to be very tough to get a win against Chicago or D.C. if we don't have momentum, so its time for the boys to start building it.
Wells Thompson told me that the older guys on the team aren't too worried, that "they know it takes time to win the playoffs, they're not wasting any energy early on." Well, I disagree. They wasted a whole lot of energy and momentum on getting a DRAW against quite possibly the worst team MLS has ever fielded (I really do like TFC when they're not playing us, their first season just caught them wrong and they'll be dangerous next year). Its not a great thing to fly to Toronto to play in that stadium, mind you, but they really should have opened up more chances or at the very least hold a 2-nil advantage. It has been the Achilles heel of this team all season and last year's playoffs, and they really need to figure out how to fix that.
How, though? The older guys haven't played in a non-3-5-2 formation since Nicol came here, and it doesn't seem like we should start changing it all up, now. I say, 3-5-2 till the first goal, then Ginger can drop back to be an upper-center half and Dorman can drop back to CDM. Kind of like a 4-4-2, except with wingers and a perfectly useful CAM playing defensive.
Of course, I'm not Steve. If I was, I would be doing completely different things than blogging, like maybe kicking my own arse for signing Khano Smith. Or speaking English no one can understand.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
The MLS Cup Playoffs are upon us. Starting on Thursday night in Chicago, the regular season means little to nothing as the eight surviving teams enter a knockout competition for the only trophy that really matters in American soccer: MLS Cup. So, who am I cheering on in their respective series? It's pretty obvious I want the Revs to win, but here's a breakdown on who I want to win in the other pairings:
(click title to read more)
DC United - Chicago
If the Revs make it out of the first round, they will play the winner of this match up. This should be a no-brainer, as the Revs would be looking at a home game against the Fire if they were to win.
Not so fast. Chicago have been major twats over the last few seasons. They have also picked up Blanco, a player who's as infamous as any among US National Team supporters. Personally, I'm not as big a Blanco hater as many of my com padres. He adds personality to the games in which he plays in, and will be contributing to his MLS side for a lot longer than most people think. Also, the Fire finally, err, fired a-hole head coach Dave Sarachan, who was the target of much of my derision over the years. So, I don't hate Chicago as much as I used to.
From a competitive standpoint, Chicago is playing as good as anyone in MLS. This makes the "weaker opponent" argument a push. Sure, we handled them at home in May, but that was a long time ago. DC beat us twice at home this year, but that will also mean little in a one-off game.
Still, I would sure like to end Chicago's season at Gillette for a fourth straight year.
Who I'm rooting for: Chicago Fire
Chivas USA - Kansas City
I was looking forward to this, but it seems MLS usurped my steam. Due to the new playoff system, the "Western Conference Final" could involve a team from the East. Now, that's according to the schedule on MLS's official site. However, I think they anticipated this and quickly printed up championship t-shirts for the CDC-Houston game Saturday night. The playoff system needs a little tweaking to fix this exploit (and why does Chivas get to play a lower seed when their conference proved to be worse?), and I would love to see Kansas City win to make a change imperative. Also, while I'm on the subject, they need to make the semifinals a home and home series.
Anyhow, I'm indifferent on both of the teams from an emotional standpoint. Chivas doesn't offend me in the least. In fact, I would love to see them really tap into the Latino market and start drawing players from the local community. It can only help the US team in the long run. I guess one of the problems is the huge rent they pay to AEG each year, which leaves them with limited funds. As for KC, I'm not nearly the Jimmy Conrad mark that most Revolution fans are. Sure, he's a good guy off the pitch and I enjoy his show. However, on the field, I hate his guts when they play the Revs. I'll save my fan mail for when he retires.
Who I'm Rooting For: Kansas City
Houston - FC Dallas
The battle of Texas. Texas is a place that I dig how their citizens think... from afar. In my naval experience, the Texans who I served with who acted like "typical Texans" are insufferable and really tough to work with. I still have great friends from Texas, but few of them epitomize what us New Englanders picture when we think of the Lone Star State. In reality, they act more like the people on Friday Night Lights during the first season. NBC writers should be defenestrated for murdering that show. They turned it into one of those shows which don't last four seasons on Fox.
Seriously, this is an easy one for me. The FC Dallas fans are easy to get along with, we seem to find our way through their defense when we play them, and I do not want to play Houston again in the final, especially after they have consistently played some of the best soccer in MLS since June.
Who I'm Rooting For: FC Dallas
Monday, October 22, 2007
Somerville's incumbent mayor, Joe Curtatone, looks to be cruising towards re-election in November having won the preliminary election by a landslide. This could prove to be good news for Revolution fans looking for the team to move into a stadium of their own, especially for those in the Boston metropolitan area.
(click title to read more)
The Revolution have stated their desire to eventually move into a 20,000 seat soccer specific stadium. Learning from their botched attempt to build a stadium for the Patriots in South Boston, they are keeping their dealings under wraps. However, an article appeared in the Boston Herald in August suggesting the Revs were developing a stadium deal with the city of Somerville, MA. Now, I don't know a whole lot, and I'm going to tell you even less (loose lips sinks ships). However, one thing I do know is the current administration is very excited about the project. We'll know a lot more as to the validity of the mayor's commitment in the months that follow the election in November.
Let's back things up for a minute. Would this be a good thing for the Revs and, more importantly, the city of Somerville?
The answer to the first half should be obvious: yes. The prospective location, while not technically in the city limits, enjoys many of the amenities that Bostonians enjoy. Let's look at an overhead view of the site:
The key strength to this location is the easy access to two different T (subway) stops. Having light rail access will open up the exceptionally large portion of the Boston population that doesn't own an automobile. It also moves home games to a much more densely populated area than Foxboro. The drawbacks would include a longer ride for those coming from Rhode Island and parts of Connecticut. There would also likely be a lot less on-site parking for tailgating, but the total size of the area slated for redevelopment is 121 acres so who knows? All in all, though, this would be a very positive move for the Revs and it's fanbase.
The crucial question is whether or not this would be a good deal for the city of Somerville? Somerville, like many municipalities in Southern New England, is dependent way too much on property values when it comes to it's balance sheet. This is the result of the region's citizens demanding a relatively high standard of living which makes a competitive business environment tough to come by due to higher costs. Thus, major companies are usually only lured to the area by specific tax breaks. That's the usual trappings associated with urban regions in the Northeast.
So, to get a major deal like this done, you need to win a series of political victories. In this case, you would need to get funding, both city and state, approved while dismissing claims that the negatives will outweigh the positives. The major negative being excess traffic on game day.
Such a project could nab state funds. The good news is that Mayor Curtatone was one of the first elected officials to endorse Governor Patrick at a time when he was an underdog to receive his party's nomination. The governor has seemed ambitious about several projects, especially on the casino front. Although the casino endeavor may stall in the Assembly, it shows the executive branch is keen to support entertainment venues. Getting back to traffic, state funds would be mandatory for infrastructural upgrades needed to handle the excess traffic coming off I-93. Having a friend in the Governor may come in handy for the Mayor.
This project is still in it's infancy and few things are known for sure. If this develops into the Revs' future home, it would be a dream location.
Hopefully, I'll have more on this in months to come...
Sunday, October 21, 2007
I'll start with the good. First and foremost, Michael Parkhurst scored his first MLS goal yesterday and it was a goal of the year candidate to boot (go to #1 at the end of the video):
Wow. It doesn't get any better than that. The other good thing about yesterday was the team, for most of the game, withstood the attack from an opponent putting in a playoff caliber effort.
However, that didn't stop the Revs from failing another late test by giving up an injury time goal. Yeah, the game was meaningless, but that's three disappointing games on the bounce since the US Open Cup victory. That's also seven of eight games the team has given up at least two goals.
They can ill-afford to give up two goals in the first leg against New York next Saturday. If the past is any reference, the team will bunker down and play for the tie. New York has players that can pull goals out of nowhere and they could be poised to stun our local side if they keep up their current defensive form.
Well, it's time to put the past behind and get ready for the playoffs. If you are a Revs fan, I implore you to make the trip to the Meadowlands. If the last few weeks in any indication, they'll need all the help they can get.
Also, I have to point this out:
I didn't need to prove that I'm a genius, because that's been firmly established. If you're still one of the non-believers, here's where I used mathematics to predict the future.
Sure, RSL didn't get to 32 points, but the variables changed during the summer.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Well, well, well. I didn't see this happening at this point in the season, but the Revs have signed Shalrie Joseph to a contract extension along with fellow veteran, Jay Heaps. Terms and salary were not disclosed, as per MLS policy of being very insecure. These deals mean the nucleus will be intact going into next season. Management can now focus on bringing in a true No. 10 during the off season to add even more potency to the Revs attack or, in reality, hope for the best from the draft.
Joseph is the big one here. Earlier in the season, his agent tried to talk him into holding out. That practice is barely accepted in "American" sports, but is alien to soccer. I'm sure glad Shalrie's judgment got the best of him. His old contract had him signed through 2008 on a salary he found unacceptable. One can only assume his salary is in the neighborhood of $300K/yr, a value which he has proven to be worthy of.
Heaps's extension will go a long way in providing depth in the back line, especially if Amaechi Igwe isn't ready to step into the starting role next season. Jay may have lost a step or two, but he does bring grit to the pitch every time he plays. He's also as classy a person as they make them, providing a strong role model for the younger players.
The only key player left unsigned is Andy Dorman. One has to wonder where he will be playing next year. He's greatly underpaid, and the Revs may be hurting for cap space if Joseph's salary is as high as it appears to be. The Revs like to keep their options open which means having enough wiggle room to fit a DP under the cap. If paying Dorman how most valuate him would put the team too close to the cap, that may not be a possibility. I don't want to see Dorman go, but he has to do what's best for himself and his situation.
Here's a couple of good examples of web 2.0 being utilized to promote our local side:
The new Revs Vortex, which is a widget that you can add anywhere on the web. A good place is on your personal page (myspace, facebook, etc.), your homepage, or your blog. I tried placing it on one of the sidebars here, but there's already a lot there and it was severely impacting load times. I'll put it on my facebook page when I get around to making one. Installation is a piece of cake, unless you are from Jersey, a moron, or both.
This particular widget is run from the Revolution site and offers news and highlights from a slick interface:
Now here's what I'm talking about! A Revs fan, who I don't think I know, has a vlog (video blog (web log)) which expresses his opinions on the team. He seems to have posted one for every game here. This is the latest installment:
Pay him some youtube love when you get a chance.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Taylor Twellman played nearly eighty minutes for the US National Team, which won 1-0 today. It was good experience for him, and while he played alright you have to question a crucial player on an MLS side nearing the playoffs being flown out to Europe on short notice to play a friendly at high altitude. For Twellman, the playing time with the team's European-based players is important. There is a certain cohesion that must develop for a quick-strike forward, like Taylor, to begin receiving the kind of service he needs to score. If he is to ever become a starter for the team, that understanding has to develop over a number of games. This game, along with the games over the summer, hopefully contributed to this understanding.
However, this game came at the wrong time for the Revolution. The team needs to be ready for the playoffs next week, especially since New York will be coming off two extra days of rest. The team can ill-afford to have it's star striker burned out when he needs to be peaking.
So was this a case of Bradley giving Twellman the nod out of kindness, or did he have ulterior motives? In my opinion, the fact that this call-up could help out coach Bradley's good friend, Bruce Arena, lends me to believe that could have come into play here.
This is all circumstantial, but let's face it. Arena took the fall after the 2006 World Cup. Bradley is a good friend of the former national team coach, as well as a former assistant. They are still in very close touch and the only bridge Arena has to the USMNT is through Bob (he burned the rest on his way out). Bradley has to feel Arena received a raw deal, and would be looking for any way possible to prop up his former mentor. There's also rumors that a young Bob developed the "Bob Bradley Face" while staring at Bruce's manboobs during those long, hard two-a-days at the University of Virginia.
Now, this could be the ramblings of a paranoid Revolution supporter. However, it's hard to argue this call up will have no negative impact on Stevie Nicol's side heading into the post season.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Some teams rise to the occasion only when they have to. Champions rise to the occasion because they are champions. Unfortunately, the Revs have been the former vice the latter in the Stevie Nicol era. Granted, they never had much to play for before the great Scot arrived at Foxboro. However, it's tough to argue that the Revs are finishing strong in the second best season in team history. The best, 2005, ended in similar fashion. At least this time around, the team is limping to the finish line, vice being carried to it on a stretcher.
The Revs have taken only one point in their last three MLS encounters, thus bowing out of Supporters Shield contention. That's OK by me. However, it would take a Revs win and a Houston loss on the last week to solidify third place overall. Meaningless this year, but we don't want to be the odd team out when MLS decides to give LA a Superliga seed "for the good of the competition". Unlikely, but you never know with the marketing gurus who run the league.
All of that is secondary to form, which the Revs haven't actually been atrocious. After all, they did achieve the greatest victory in team history by winning the US Open Cup two weeks back. A legitimate cup in the trophy case was much needed to put to rest any jinx talk. However, there's only one truly major cup in US soccer, MLS Cup. To win it, you have to get hot going into the playoffs.
The Revs can't exactly claim that they are on a tear. They are a team that has fourteen legitimate MLS starters. The problem is, they aren't all that interchangeable. Andy Dorman started Saturday's game on the bench, so Wells Thompson could start at right midfield. That meant Steve Ralston moving to attacking mid. The Revs have had only a few decent AM's in team history, and I only count the 2006 version of Dorman as one of them. You can tell the difference when he's not in there and performing well.
Another area the Revs are slipping is in defense. They haven't fielded a back line with Avery John in awhile and I'm curious as to why. The regular three of Riley, Parkhurst, and Heaps have looked week, allowing at least two goals in every game for a month. Reis has been fine, but not perfect in net. The game-winner against Columbus caught him sleeping.
The good thing is there is only one hot team in the East, Chicago Fire. The great thing about that is they will probably face DC United in the playoffs and I like their chances. If the Revs get by New York, they could host the Eastern Conference Finals. Red Bull is also ho-humming it, so our series is a toss up. If you haven't been planning to make the return leg on November 3rd, what the heck is wrong with you? The Midnight Riders are also planning a bus trip to Jersey for the first leg. If you are from the area and want to sit with the Revs fans, you need to get tickets through the Riders, also. If you can't do either, take TO's advice and get the popcorn ready. It's going to be fun.
If you can't figure it out, this blog has been dormant for quite some time. The reasons for this were both technical and personal. The technical aspects involve my laptop breaking and today's computers being designed so you can't even fix a power supply input card yourself. Seriously, the Navy trained me to solder to NASA standards and there's no way in hell I could have fixed it.
I won't go into the personal, but don't worry, I wasn't in jail or anything like that. I just needed some time off. I've actually been back and going to games for close to two months now. I just haven't gotten back into the blogging thing yet.
Speaking of which, I plan on bringing this blog back. I'm just not sure in what capacity. I'm looking for help, especially with game coverage. If you are interested, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'll be back shortly with my take on the Revs' playoff aspirations and the big US Open Cup win. That "20 people who rocked the fort" contest will be conducted in the off season. I still have the 40 or so votes I received and if you voted then, you can vote again. Stay tuned...