With a new five-year CBA signed, the 2010 MLS schedule is set to kick off on Thursday night (March 25) when the expansion Philadelphia Union visits Seattle Sounders FC at 9:30 p.m. ET live on ESPN2. Two nights later (March 27), the Revs will open their regular-season schedule against the LA Galaxy at The Home Depot Center. That match is set to kick off at 11 p.m. ET and will televised live on Fox Soccer Channel.
But before we move on to the Galaxy, I want to take a brief look back at last night’s preseason finale against the Carolina RailHawks, which the Revs won, 2-1, courtesy of Zack Schilawski’s 87th-minute game-winner …
1. Zack Schilawski made a lot of people perk up with four goals in five preseason games … but let’s hold off on the Rookie of the Year predictions for now. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been remarkably impressed with Schilawski’s contributions this preseason, and I’ve touted his skill and determination plenty enough in the past few weeks. But we must remember that this is a 22-year-old recent college graduate who has yet to play one minute of professional soccer. It’s quite possible that he’ll score loads of goals and be a contributor from day one this season, but it’s important not to pile the pressure too high. I firmly believe that Schilawski will be a solid MLS player for years to come, but the list of players who have walked into the league and started scoring right off the bat is a short one. Let’s not let a fantastic preseason distort our expectations for his rookie year.
2. Some lingering injuries prevented the Revs from going with a full-strength lineup against the RailHawks, but it was more caution than anything else. I spoke before last night’s match about the importance of the final preseason tune-up, as it almost serves as a regular-season run through. Even Steve Nicol had stated his desired preference to go full-strength last night, but it just wasn’t smart considering the circumstances. With Kevin Alston and Darrius Barnes just coming off minor knocks, both were smartly kept off the field as Nicol chose not to risk them before the games that actually count. Meanwhile, Shalrie Joseph was given a rest one week before the season, which he’ll surely be thankful for in the coming weeks when the games start rolling.
3. Seven players played the full 90 minutes as the Revs prepare for the regular season. While it was smart to keep players coming off minor knocks off the field last night, it was equally as important to get some of the healthy guys a 90-minute performance so they could test their lungs ahead of the season. Preston Burpo, Cory Gibbs, Emmanuel Osei, Chris Tierney, Kenny Mansally, Pat Phelan and Zack Schilawski all went the distance and will now remember what 90 minutes feels like entering the Galaxy match.
4. Just a few days after conceding a set-piece goal, the Revs turned the tables and scored direct from a corner kick. It’s no secret that scoring from set pieces was an issue for the Revs last year, as they didn’t capitalize from a dead-ball situation until the 28th game of the 2009 season. That problem seemed to disappear late in the year, when they scored four consecutive goals from set pieces to close out the season. The Revs continued that success on Saturday night when Kenny Mansally’s corner kick was headed home by Pat Phelan late in the first half. Phelan said that the Revs still have to be a bit more dangerous from set pieces, but he believes they’ll be more effective from dead-ball situations this year than last.
5. Cory Gibbs just has the appearance of a leader while patrolling the backline. When Gibbs was acquired in an offseason trade with the Colorado Rapids, it seemed that his leadership capabilities were just as highly regarded as his on-field talent. He seems to be stepping into that role with ease, taking the armband last night in the absence of Joseph and leading the Revs with a calm – yet commanding – presence.
6. Sainey Nyassi was perhaps the most active Revs player, getting up and down the right wing all game. Nyassi didn’t put his name on the score sheet on Saturday night, but he was constantly around the action and had as many chances to shoot as he did to pass. With confidence, Nyassi can be an electric player and I don’t think there’s a wing midfielder or outside back in the league who enjoys having them run at him. The key for the young Gambian is keeping that confidence high and never hesitating to turn on the jets when approaching one-on-one situations. When he gets himself to the endline, the balls he plays across the box are dangerous, and he’ll pick up more than a few assists this year if he can get there consistently.
Well, that’s about it for preseason analysis. No more predicting. No more guessing. No more prognosticating. The next time the Revs take the field on Saturday night against the Galaxy, it’ll be in their 2010 regular-season opener.
The players and staff are relaxing for the day in North Carolina before an evening flight back to Boston. After taking tomorrow off to regroup from the 12-day trip, the players will be back in on Tuesday morning to make final preparations for the Galaxy. We’ll have full coverage leading up to the match, plus extensive coverage on the road in LA.
Oh, yeah. We’ll also have the all-new revolutionsoccer.net launching later this week. So there’s plenty to be excited about.
Let’s play some soccer.