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Oct
29

Judgment Day: Five predictions for 2010

Prior to the start of the 2010 season – after all of the preseason stories had been covered but before the regular season games had kicked off – I was brainstorming blog ideas which could simultaneously provide some light entertainment and spur interaction with Revolution fans. No more player profiles, no more preseason recaps. I needed something different.

Then, a light bulb went off. I had the perfect idea.

“I’ll make some predictions for the season,” I thought, excitedly. “Then at the end of the year, I’ll go back and see how many I got right. I can even ask the fans to make their own predictions. This’ll be fun!”

And at the time, it was fun. I firmly believed I was predicting the future. But blinded by my infinite wisdom, I overlooked one remarkably important factor in this plan: It’s only fun to recap your predictions if they’re correct.

Hence, what I’m about to do is not going to be fun. At least not for me (it might be a riot for you).

ACCOMPANYING VIDEO BELOW

1. Steve Nicol will become the third head coach in MLS history to earn 100 career regular-season victories. (Side prediction: Nicol will reach the 100-win plateau by the end of April. That gives him road games against LA, D.C. and San Jose and home dates with Toronto and Colorado to pick up the necessary victories).

RESULT: Nicol earned his 100th career victory on April 10, leading the Revs to a 4-1 victory over Toronto FC.

ANALYSIS: Success! I correctly predicted that during the span of a 30-game season, one of the most successful head coaches in MLS history would win, at the very least, two games! Clear evidence of my genius!

Alright, so this was perhaps the least daring prediction in the history of predictions. With 98 career victories under his belt entering the 2010 season, everyone knew Nicol would reach triple digits this year. It was just a matter of time.

But hey, at least I did say Nicol would grab his 100th win before the end of April, which he did. That’s something, I guess. Plus, as I stated very clearly from the outset, I made this prediction to ensure I got at least one out of five correct. It was my safety net. As it turns out, a very necessary safety net.

2. The Revolution’s rookie class will be one of the best in Major League Soccer this season.

RESULT: Zack Schilawski (25 appearances, 15 starts, five goals) and Seth Sinovic (20 appearances, 18 starts) both started the season opener against the LA Galaxy and parlayed their early success into contributing roles throughout the season. Zak Boggs (nine appearances, four starts, two goals) had worked his way into the starting lineup before a concussion derailed his season in late June. Jason Griffiths (10 appearances, four starts) proved himself a solid option in central midfield after joining the team midway through the season.

ANALYSIS: As I’ve said all along, this one’s a bit of a toss-up because it’s ultimately subjective. Some of you would argue that this prediction was correct (probably based largely on statistics), while others would deny the validity (probably based largely on the Revs missing the playoffs).

I see the merit in both arguments, but from my perspective, I got this one right. I’ll tell you why, player-by-player.

Critics will point to the fact that all five of Zack Schilawski’s regular-season goals were scored before June – and three of them came in an 11-minute span in one game – and that’s true. But it doesn’t change the fact that the 23-year-old was a contributor this season. He finished second on the team in goals, while he also added another strike in the group stage of SuperLiga and notched an assist against Morelia in the SuperLiga final. But even beyond statistics, Schilawski’s relentless work ethic provided a consistent spark, and I honestly believe he’s one to watch for the future.

While Schilawski was pegged with great expectations as a first-round draft pick, Seth Sinovic was a bit less heralded as an outside back coming out of Creighton. But the rookie showed confidence from the outset and developed tremendously throughout the year under the guidance of Nicol, who saw enough from Sinovic to name him in his starting lineup 18 times during the regular season. Sinovic is still progressing, to be sure, but to ignore his contributions this year would be an injustice.

It’s tough to completely analyze Zak Boggs’ rookie season because the second-round selection missed the entire second half of the year with concussion symptoms. Of course, everyone will remember his scintillating debut start when he scored a pair of goals at Crew Stadium in the Revolution’s heart-breaking 3-2 loss to the Crew, providing a glimpse of what he can do. We surely would’ve seen more out of Boggs had he been able to play, but Revs fans will look forward to hopefully having that chance next season.

Third-round pick Jason Griffiths remained in school to continue toward his degree at Kentucky before joining the Revs in June, but despite his late start – and a series of hamstring injuries – the young Englishman showed enough grit to push his way into the starting lineup for the final two games of the season. Overall, he made 10 league appearances.

I know the main argument against my contention is that the Revs were forced to use their rookie class more than other clubs simply because they didn’t have a wealth of other options. The argument has validity, but I don’t think it overshadows the basic fact that the Revolution received a great deal of contributions from this crop of rookies.

Plus, I really need a second check-mark, because here’s where it gets bad.

3. The Revolution will score more than 33 goals this season.

RESULT: The Revs scored 32 goals, establishing a new club-record low for goals in a season.

ANALYSIS: This one’s pretty straightforward. I said the Revs would score more than 33 goals, which was essentially a different way of saying they’d score more goals than they did in 2009. The Revs came up one short of the 33-goal mark – confirmed by a shutout loss to the Red Bulls in the season finale – and that means a big red X for me.

It would be easy to try to explain away the lack of goals to the absences of Edgaras Jankauskas and Taylor Twellman, both of whom were expected to play a major role in the attack but neither of whom started a game this season. That clearly played a factor, but it wasn’t the only factor.

In my opinion, what doomed the Revolution in this department was the club’s lack of form on the road. The Revs scored 21 goals in their 15 home games, which actually put them in the middle of the pack (tied for ninth) in terms of home goal-scoring. If they could’ve replicated that form on the road, they would’ve been just fine.

However, the Revolution managed just 11 goals on the road, tied for 14th in the 16-team league. Eight shutouts away from home means I get a big goose egg for this prediction.

4. Taylor Twellman will play again this year for the Revolution.

RESULT: Twellman was added to the season-ending injury list on June 23 and did not make an appearance in 2010.

ANALYSIS: There’s not much to say on this one that hasn’t already been said.

Of course, I wanted to believe in my heart that Twellman would return to the field this season because everyone wanted him to return to the field. He’s always been one of the league’s hardest working players, he’s consistently given everything he has for this organization, and no one wanted Twellman back on the field more than Twellman himself.

Beyond that, he looked well on his way to a full recovery as he ramped up his workouts through the early part of the season. After starting slow and staying limited to fitness, he gradually progressed to passing drills, possession games and even finishing. When I spoke with him for a sit-down interview in early May, he was optimistic about his recovery.

But the unpredictable nature of his head injury reemerged and ended his season, without much warning, just like that. In the aftermath, Twellman has said repeatedly that he’ll sit down with Revolution personnel and the doctors this offseason to determine what’s best for his future.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. If I could’ve gotten just one of these five predictions correct, I would’ve chosen this one. This is the one everyone wanted to see.

Unfortunately – for everyone involved – my prediction was incorrect, meaning I’m hanging at 50 percent heading into my final prediction.

5. The Revs will reach the MLS Cup Playoffs for the ninth straight season. (Side prediction: The Revs will finally play someone other than the Chicago Fire in the 2010 postseason.)

RESULT: With a league record of 9-16-5 (32 pts.), the Revolution finished sixth in the Eastern Conference and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2001.

ANALYSIS: Let’s be honest – did you think I was going to predict the Revs weren’t going to make the playoffs? At the start of every season, everyone has hope that this will be their team’s year. If you don’t, then what’s the point?

I didn’t think I was exactly sticking my neck out there with this one. The Revs had made the playoffs for eight straight years, after all, and it seemed like a universal impossibility that a side led by Steve Nicol could miss out on the postseason. Guess there’s a first time for everything.

Like Nicol, I’ll make no excuses. When the Revs’ gaffer was asked about this season, he responded by saying, quite simply, that his team wasn’t good enough.

Of course, after struggling this season, the Revs will now look to improve during the offseason and come back stronger next year. And that’s exactly what I’ll do. Because you know I haven’t learned my lesson. I’ll inevitably make more predictions ahead of the 2011 season. Hopefully they’ll be better.

FINAL TALLY: 2-out-of-5.

16 comments

  1. d... says:

    I would call that 1 out of 5, and the one was winning just 2 games. Pretty sad but not surprising. The rookie class was one of the worst in the league. Honestly name one team that had a worse rookie class.
    Chicago – started a rookie goalie
    Chivas — de la Fuente
    crew — Duka and williams
    LA – bowen and Stephens
    Philly – McIenerny -Mwanga
    DC -Najar
    Dallas – signed 3 academy players who all have huge up side and are 4 years younger then our class
    Houston, same as dallas
    NY — Ream
    RSL — as usally best academy in the league

    Get the point, all these guys are better then our class. Pretty frusterating.
    And good effort on your predictions, cant wait for next year

  2. Richard Frank says:

    Predictions for 2011:

    1) Fewer seasons ticket holders
    2) A failed Designated Player
    3) Twellman tries to hang on one more season – and collect his $500,000 for doing nothing
    4) We are told, “Stay patient” while the rest of the League runs right past us again
    5) Ticket holders are treated to mediocre soccer, but keep coming anyway

    Please, Revolution… DO SOMETHING!

  3. backseat says:

    Twellman finally calling it quites eh? Now we have some cash to play with!

  4. d3 says:

    Twellmans done and we hear it from the washington post, this is one of the many reasons the revs are hard to follow, the secrecy they have around the team keeps everyone in the dark, and when the fans are in the dark they dont talk about the team, and when they dont talk about the team they stop paying attention and then they stop watching. The revs need to move away how the patriots deal with the media and start trying to stir up attention, any coverage is better then no coverage. The pats are in a different situation, they dont need any stories, they have enough support where they can afford to keep quiet. The revs dont. Speak up get some people talking about the team.

  5. d3 says:

    wouldnt this have been a great story to hear on the 6 oclock local news instead of MLS website.F–K

  6. revolutionsoccer says:

    d3 – Taylor is holding a press conference at 1:30 p.m. this afternoon (that you can watch live on revolutionsoccer.net) to discuss his playing career.

    We’ve had this information on our homepage since yesterday and also on Facebook/Twitter. Not sure how you think we’re keeping everyone in the dark on this.

  7. Margy says:

    Agreed – not entirely in the dark. The news was listed on Bostonchannel.com not long after the press conference (the fact it even made it on there shocked me). However, Taylor finally stepping down is a tiny bit surprising. I suppose we’ve been spoiled thinking that Twellman would be back in a matter of time.

    Thanks Taylor for all of your contributions to the team and league over the past few years. I enjoyed watching every minute of it.

  8. d3 says:

    How does the washington post have the info before your twitter account. that is what i mean. you suck and so do the revs.

  9. joe says:

    Good luck Taylor you were a great player who stuck his neck out to get a goal. Too bad that type of all out play cost him the rest of his career. But one thing is for sure he left it all out on the field and I was there to see him score goal number 100. Thanks for all those winning seasons. Too bad you never got to hoist the MLS Cup. Now it is time for a new chapter in Revolution soccer history.

  10. Paul says:

    I agree with those who say Revs news is hard to get.

    It seemed the Jankauskas departure was done in secrecy when any serious Revs fan would have been thrilled to hear the news. It should have been on the web-site and in the local media with an upside spin.

    It’s hard to get the take on why certain player acquisitions are hyped and then they never see the turf, or for that matter never join the team.

    Real Revs followers want to be on the inside as much as Red Sox, Pats, Celtics and Bruins fans do. Inside scoops and gossip are part of the allure.

    Poor communication, and I don’t mean who’s birthday it is, or when the next revs clinic is going to be held, is another confounding example of Revs management shortcomings.

  11. Kyle says:

    Can we get some info on prospective replacements for Twellman? Some gossip for us to chew on? I’d really appreciate it. And d3, whoever you are, you’re not helping. So please shut your trap until you have something useful to say.

  12. Kyle says:

    And I agree that transparency in the club’s dealings would be nice. One of the best teams in the world, FC Barcelona, is totally transparent in terms of their accounts, and it doesn’t hurt their success while making the fans feel they’re more important. Maybe we should take a page from their book.

  13. d3 says:

    OK Kyle, i will shut up. Let me know about that gossip you will be waiting for. Here is a good one for you to keep you excited,
    Angel. We almost had him at mid season, when did you hear about that?

  14. d3 says:

    Kyle, I have another one for you. Filip Krstic a 22 yr old serb that played with munichs youth team. He is on trial with the revs right now. Where did you hear of that one? Not from the revs of coarse. Another example, Barns was hurt and needed surgery? Didnt hear that from the revs. Jeff, honesty goes along way, now tell us, you are not allowed to report these things, are you?

  15. Jeff Lemieux says:

    d3 – We’ve stated from the start of postseason training that the Revs would have trialists in throughout those sessions, but I also said that the names of those trialists were more likely to come from the media than myself. That’s why you likely got that information from Frank Dell’Apa on the Boston Globe soccer blog as opposed to from me – because that information was given to the media, by the team, so they could report it.

    As for the Barnes story, it’s most certainly on the web site (http://beta.revolutionsoccer.net/news/2010/11/barnes-undergoes-successful-sports-hernia-surgery). There’s nothing secretive about it. Our Communications staff didn’t receive official word on the successful surgery until late last night, so that’s when the official information went out.

  16. Mike says:

    Jeff,
    Great coverage all year. While your predictions may have been less than perfect, they’re each good talking points. I agree the more coverage the better and we’d love a Revs’ equivalent of ‘hot stove’ talk about Twellman’s replacement, the DP Kraft promised us, who will be taken in the draft, etc.

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