The New England Revolution have reached the quarter-pole of the season, or thereabouts, with few certainties, except maybe one: When you play the Revs, scoring is at a premium.
Through eight games prior to Wednesday night’s contest with Real Salt Lake, there had been a grand total of 10 goals scored by either side, five of which came in a 4-1 loss at New York (the Revolution’s score in that affair was an own goal). The glass-half-empty crew is screaming for more of an attack. Those on the other side of the coin are pleased as punch with the tight defense and some spectacular goaltending.
Sticking with that theme, here are some positives and negatives as the Revs prepared to host Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night.
1. Fresh blood – The weak attack, which had a club-record 539-minute scoreless stretch earlier this season, should benefit from the arrival of former New York and Chivas USA forward Juan Agudelo. The Revs on Tuesday acquired the 20-year-old Agudelo, who has two goals in six games this season and 11 in his MLS career. “We feel that Juan brings something to us that we didn’t have,” general manager Mike Burns told RevolutionSoccer.net.
2. Sene surge? – As Agudelo works his way in, fellow forward Saer Sene is now four games (entering Wednesday) into his return from ACL surgery and is approaching 100 percent. With two dynamic attackers and coach Jay Heaps’ new 4-1-4-1 formation yielding some positive results, lengthy scoreless streaks may be a thing of the past.
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3. About those positives – The own goal in New York doesn’t mean a lot, but the two tallies in a victory over Philadelphia one week later certainly did, especially since it coincided with Heaps’ major formation shift. Also, New England has been a much better team at home (from 2010-12 it was 17-11-12 at Gillette and 4-29-6 on the road). Wednesday’s contest began a stretch in which the Revs would play five of six at Gillette.
4. Worth it – The transition from longtime keeper Matt Reis to up-and-comer Bobby Shuttleworth has been seamless, as the newbie – almost 14 years younger than Reis – has kept the punchless Revs in most games. A great example was the scoreless tie at Portland last Thursday, when Shuttleworth made a career-high nine saves amid constant pressure in a tough environment to allow New England to escape with a point.
5. MASH Unit – Injuries have been have a constant issue this season. Most notable is the status of standout defender A.J. Soares, who remains sidelined with a hamstring strain. Fellow back-liner Stephen McCarthy (adductor) was questionable Wednesday. Several others on the back line are dealing with other issues, but Chris Tierney is back from suspension.