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Sep
13

Beware the man who has nothing to lose

I think it’s been well established that this past weekend’s 2-0 loss to Chivas USA was a back-breaker. Not only because it leaves the Revs nine points adrift of the final playoff spot with seven games remaining, but because they were thoroughly outplayed from the opening whistle in a game which they essentially needed to win. Just six days after a fantastic effort earned a 3-1 win over Seattle Sounders FC, the Revs simply couldn’t conjure a similar performance on the West Coast.

Postgame quotes from the players lamented the slow start, an inability to maintain possession for any length of time and a lack of quality scoring chances. But the really powerful words came from head coach Steve Nicol, who laid down the situation for the rest of the season with these 17 words:

“This is the time for the guys to show me and everybody else what they’re made of.”

Realistically, the Revs (7-13-3, 24 pts.) need to go 6-0-1 in their last seven games to put themselves in playoff contention, and that’s with trips to Colorado, Dallas, Houston and New York and home games against Columbus, Real Salt Lake and Kansas City still remaining. Bottom line, it would take something incredibly special for the Revs to extend their postseason appearance streak to nine years. That’s a fact.

With that said, to quote Nicol, this is the time for the guys to show what they’re made of. Professional athletes are prideful creatures and I can tell you the players in that locker room on Friday night were embarrassed. Whether or not the playoffs are within reach, they don’t want to experience that type of disappointment again.

OK, so the Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas have combined for just two home losses all season, and that’s daunting when you’re headed to face both back-to-back. Especially when you’ve struggled on the road like the Revs have this season.

But there’s a saying which claims “the man who is soaking wet is not afraid of the rain.” In other words, beware the man who has nothing to lose, for he has only to gain …

13 comments

  1. jmh says:

    I understand your points Jeff. I agree with what you say in the abstract. But, once again, they were awful on the road and that’s been the story of the season. Not just losing on the road. AWFUL on the road.

    Its sad because your assessment of the Seattle win at home is right, that was (or should have been) a big boost. At least it should have put the fear in some teams.

    But there is no reason to worry about the Revs at all when they come to visit. They look worse than the Red Bulls did last year, at least on the road they do.

    Nicol’s evaluation was spot on, when they had the ball they gave it right back to them. All night. I realize that the competition in MLS is professional but COME ON, not even your local high school varsity team is THAT bad at their corresponding level. Awful.

    So we all know that. But what’s to do? The gut reaction is often “bench somebody, ANYBODY, and get someone else in there ANYBODY”. But if we had better players they’d be playing.

    So let’s look at this group.

    Gibbs – What an awful trade. AWFUL. (seems to be the theme of this post…) He’s slow in his own end and is no threat in the attacking third. None. What an awful trade.
    Barnes – Very inconsistent player, has risen to the challenge from time to time but he has also made some gross errors in crucial games. He should be past that by now.
    Alston – Another inconsistent player but I’m still sold on his upside. He needs to show us that he can grab the league and go. We’ll see.
    Tierney – *sigh* No team that is compelled to start Tierney is MLS championship caliber. He plays hard and gives it everything, but the skill level just is not there. Touted for service, his wayward balls far out number the ones on target.
    Phelan – A pass-able sub on a strong team is his highest level. Like Tierney, if you have to start him you have trouble.
    Joseph – Still one of the league’s best, but since he has hardly anyone of quality in support, its easy for opponents to focus on shutting him down.
    Dube- Revs need to move him. He has some technical skill in receiving the ball which could make him marketable. But the last attacking player on this team that you want to see with the ball at his feet, in the box, with a clear scoring chance in a big game is Dube (see Superliga final). He should be moved just for that. Sorry I know its harsh but I could not believe it.
    Nyassi – He will have to be on the team for the forseeable future. He stuns ya with his play; good and bad.
    Perovic – A solid MLS player. Hope they can keep him.
    Stolica – He needs better balls served to him for hold up, his sub-par teammates fire lasers at him and he does the best he can….he’s proved he can finish in the box at MLS level.
    Reis- He’s getting old but what can you do….

    BENCH
    Schilawski (sp) – too small. move him, might have value to some team…
    Mansally – not skilled enough, release him a la Nyouki
    Griffiths- INC
    Boggs- INC
    Linck – INC (+) Interesting player MAYBE. He should get more of Tierney’s, or Dube’s time as we close out.
    Colaluca- uh….who?
    Smith – please…..
    Sinovic – Worth keeping as reserve defender

    Its a long climb out of here Revs fans. I’m with them, as long as it takes, but let’s face it, its a long climb out…

  2. Nick says:

    I said this just after the loss to Chivas and I will say it again now: I don’t care if they make the playoffs this season.

    Realistically, the Red Sox have more of a chance of making the post-season than the Revs do (and anyone who follows baseballs knows how long the odds are against the Sox). Not only do the Revs need to go 6-1-0 (that’s W-D-L) but they also need the six teams above them to start dropping points. Those are some seriously long odds.

    So, as I said, I don’t care if they make the playoffs this season. All I do care about is that the Revs go out on a positive note. That — regardless of the result — they play with the strength, character, heart, and talent that we all know these players possess. If they win, then win; if they lose, that’s fine, as long as they do so fighting.

  3. backseat says:

    ^^jmh
    For the most part I like our back line. I think they’ve been playing with their back against the wall so it’s hard to tell what they are doing well or badly.

    As for their service out of the back, I think the challenge is complicated:
    1) Are they clearing the ball blindly b/c the rest of the team isn’t positioned to receive the ball?
    2) Does Nicols like the long-ball so they’re doing what they’re told?
    3) Are they not confident in the midfielders so blind clears seem to be their best option?

    Besides telling players they need to play hard if they want a spot next year, I think Nicols needs to take a hard look at his game plan. I’m all about tough talk, but he needs to be candid about what he’s been doing wrong too.

  4. Charles Mcfeely says:

    The only thing I wanted to lose was much lunch after that game

  5. jmh says:

    I hadn’t thought of that backseat..perhaps some of this apparent ineptness is bad tactics or poor execution of dubious tactics.

    But what does that say really? I think it shows that Nicol has little to no faith in the ability of his players to move the ball upfield in the conventional professional manner. The stupefying reliance on the “long throw” into the box is more evidence of this. (I will say we see it less this year than last, and Alston is “better” at it FWIW)

    Can Barnes/Osei and to some extent Alston competently link up with the Phelan Tierney to keep possesion and move forward? Obviously not, at least not on the road.

    You’re left with the entire league knowing the only place the Revs can threaten with the ball in the midfield is when they get it to Shalrie.

    I don’t mean to excuse Nicol, he was there when it was decided that this team would be better with Gibbs in the back and no Laurentowicz.

    CMON NOW does anyone really believe that Burns and Nicol felt that to be true???? If so, YIKES!

    So we’re forced to conclude that fundamental “budget considerations” by the Krafts call the tune with this franchise personnel wise. More so than other MLS franchises that’s for sure, but that’s a story for another day isn’t it…

  6. DaveB says:

    Am I wrong in thinking there is an open roster spot? If there is one, any chance of a signing (pretty much anybody at this point) before the freeze?

  7. Jeff Lemieux says:

    DaveB – There is an open roster spot, but a signing seems unlikely. It was stated when the Revs parted ways with Joseph Niouky that the move wasn’t made with the intention of bringing someone in to fill that spot. Issue seems to be budget space.

  8. Cyrill says:

    Hey guys

    I couldn’t follow the Chivas-game at the weekend due to time difference but the things I saw in the short highlight clip on MLS.com wasn’t very promising concerning road trips. Yes, the Revs have been inconsistent this season, some players too like jmh wrote in the beginning. That’s difficult to handle, especially for the coach. But it is also a dangerous advantage on the road. Colorado is probably not a team who will underestimate the Revs but Dallas might be one. They have a “good” record so far and as we saw it with the Galaxy, too much success has the effect of underestimating opponents, especially inconsistent ones.
    I don’t wanna say that the Revs will for sure win the game against Dallas, but bad performances at some point might be of some small advantage as long as you keep fighting hard. Usually, I’m very optimistic, but I don’t see a true chance for the Revs to get in the play-offs right now. Nevertheless, with some good, hard-working performances, the season’s not lost.

    The Swiss Champion from 2008/09 had an awful season in the last season 2009/10 and at some point they saw the season was over and focused on the next one. I think the Revs should start to do the same. That means getting new players, focus on a consistent system even though you can’t count on all your players availability. Great clubs like FC Barcelona do always play in the same system, with the same philosophy no matter against who they are playing or in which class of age (U-21, U-18, U-16). I don’t think I need to point out their success so far with that.

    Nearly all Revs-fans are closer to the team and see the players’ performances ofter than I do from over here in Switzerland, but at some point in a season when it’s not going like it should, you have to start asking if the coach is doing his job the way he should. I like Stevie Nicol and he did so much for this club so far, but maybe some new ideas might be useful too. I don’t know how close this assumption is to reality, it’s just something I experienced several times so far here in the Swiss and other European leagues. I’m not an expert so far, but it might be worth thinking about it. What are you guys thinking about it?

    For sure, the Revs need some support players in the midfield. Perovic and Stolica are doing a great job so far and with some more support from the midfield, Perovic and Stolica get very dangerous. I know Perovic abilities quite well ’cause he played in Switzerland before and I saw him several times. With some good support from midfielders like Nyassi and Joseph, both strikers get dangerous. Probably the Revs need to get a player of the level of the traded Larentowicz. He’s definitely missing in this team and a classical Number-6 player might give this team the needed boost, like Marquez does for New York.

    Best wishes from Switzerland

  9. backseat says:

    Jeff L situation was REALLY weird. There was the injury issue and then there was a decision to not play him top dollar and to try retain someone like Jankauskas. Of all the decisions made last yr and in the off season this was the strangest in my mind.
    Bringing Smith back is a close second considering the attitude he has and the stunt with PK. I guess we were seriously desparate in the front office at that point. sigh…..
    I’d buy season tix in heartbeat if I thought we’d be contenders again. I’m holding out for now.

  10. Cooper says:

    I think the deal with Jeff was that he wanted to play in Europe (and that he was no longer interested in playing here on our plastic pitch). That’s what I heard anyway.

    Another strange decision was protecting Ralston in the expansion draft instead of Knighton. Why protect a 36 yr old injury prone midfielder w/ a high salary (who’s recovering from a serious knee injury? Philly wasn’t going to select him at his salary. Not to mention that if the club’s relationship w/ him was so great, how come we didn’t know he was going to retire? This blunder cost us Knighton, which forced us to trade for Burpo, etc., etc.

  11. d3 says:

    I agree, it isnt the Krafts not putting up the money it is the personel choices over and over again. Mistake after mistake it is really petheatic. Burns out, Mo Johnston in? I guess anything would be better at this point.

  12. DaveB says:

    Jeff- Thanks for the clarification.

    I have been hesitant to criticize players and/or management to this point, hoping that things would turn around. However, nearing the end of the season, with the team performing so inconsistently, having an open roster spot with no budget space and no DP is a clear indication of bad business mangement.

  13. Robert Sinico says:

    True fans are here through the good and the bad. True Newenglanders dont walk away…….WIN,LOSE, OR DRAW—- REVOLUTION FOR EVER —-WE LOVE YOU !!!!!

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