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Oct
29

Broadcast Booth Bits

OK – all bets are off. No TT, no Rallie – and no Badilla or Smith. It’s hard to imagine that the Revs can knock off the Fire, but stranger things have happened. And if you know me at all by this point in the season, I’m going to explain why I think it will happen.

I personally hope that Steve Nicol, at least for Game One, goes to a 3-5-2. As my broadcast cohort Greg Lalas consistently notes, Michael Parkhurst looks much more comfortable at the back in a three than he does in a flat four. That comfort factor will count for a lot against Brian McBride in this upcoming series.

The Revs didn’t see McBride in any of the three games they lost to Chicago this season. But lest you think that the former U.S. national team and Fulham FC star has made Chicago into an out-and-out juggernaut, consider this: after Chicago’s narrow 1-0 win over hapless Los Angeles on August 16 in McBride’s debut for his hometown team, the Fire went 3-4-2 in league play. That included losses to three non-playoffs teams (Colorado, Dallas and Toronto) and the only victories came over New York and L.A. (again).

Don’t get me wrong, McBride still has game and from an objective perspective he makes the Fire a much tougher team. Even when he doesn’t score, he’s so valuable in terms of his aerial prowess, his “stickiness” in the hold-up phase of play and his intelligent running and positioning. But he’s not the player he was three or four years ago.

This relates back to Parky. Think of how effectively Mike has learned to defend against Juan Pablo Angel, a forward who has a similar skill set to McBride’s (and is arguably more mobile). If Parkhurst can play the soft-cushion, bump-and-run style against McBride that he does against Angel, then he could contain McBride in this upcoming series.

Chicago’s regular season closer was a 5-2 win over the Red Bulls during which Chris Rolfe put in a Player-of-the-Week performance, scoring three goals in the first half. He’s someone the Revs always seem to have trouble tracking down in the attacking third, with his propensity to pop up in seams and shoot on moment’s notice. He’s the guy, more than McBride, who can drag defenders out of their spots. With Justin Mapp and John Thorrington flying on the wings it will be a lot for the likes of Mauricio Castro, Sainey Nyassi and Wells Thompson to deal with. All will need to track back and support the outside defenders, while still looking to take the initiative to get forward and keep Chicago pinned back. The Revs are at home, after all.

I’d be remiss to not mention Cuauhtemoc Blanco. The crafty number 10 tends to switch the effort on and off, and he appeared to fade as the season wore on, but with so much at stake in these conference semifinals you have to figure he’ll at least have moments. Without making any gratuitous references to the way the Revs comported themselves against Kansas City last Saturday, they need to hold it together when, inevitably, Blanco tries to dupe the referee or wind up the opposition. The bottom line is he’s a dangerous attacking player who could make a difference if he’s not attended to closely and intelligently.

If you’re a Fire fan, it’s the once-vaunted defense that troubles you about your team. The stingiest team in MLS during the first 80 percent of the season, the Men in Red allowed 10 goals against in their last six games. All of a sudden, Jon Busch has looked beatable and the back line less impenetrable. So while Gonzalo Segares is still arguably having a Best XI type season, and Wilman Conde and Bakare Soumare are big, tough guys, the Revs may have an advantage with that corps’ espirt somewhat damaged and the speed of Nyassi, Kenny Mansally and Kheli Dube torturing them for 90 minutes.

So yes, the Revs are slumping into the postseason. Yes, they’ve lost two superstars to injury for the series and two starters to suspension for Game One. But these matches tend to come down to a couple of key moments, and with some young, hungry players looking to make their mark for Steve Nicol, they could make the difference in those vital instances. You know they are going to give it their all.

Check out Planet Mikey on WEEI tonight at 9 p.m. I’ll be on with Mike Adams talking Revs-Fire and more. Also, I’m doing a short playoffs preview stint on NESN Sportsdesk at 10 and 11 p.m. Revs communications tells me the TV news media was out in force today aftert training, so tune into the news to get some good Revs coverage and please let your favorite station know you want to see more MLS!

7 comments

  1. Henry V says:

    What’s he that wishes so?
    My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
    If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
    To do our country loss; and if to live,
    The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
    God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
    By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
    Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
    It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
    Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
    But if it be a sin to covet honour,
    I am the most offending soul alive.
    No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
    God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
    As one man more methinks would share from me
    For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
    Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
    That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
    Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
    And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
    We would not die in that man’s company
    That fears his fellowship to die with us.
    This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
    He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
    Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
    And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
    He that shall live this day, and see old age,
    Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
    And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’
    Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
    And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.’
    Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
    But he’ll remember, with advantages,
    What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
    Familiar in his mouth as household words-
    Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
    Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
    Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
    This story shall the good man teach his son;
    And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
    From this day to the ending of the world,
    But we in it shall be remembered-
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition;
    And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
    Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

  2. Hope says:

    Okay, was not expecting Taylor to be out but that aside I think the Revs have a chance. With Khano out, Castro can play his preferred left side. With Badilla out, Parkhurst can play his preferred central defender position. We have the healthy young legs of Mansally, Nyassi and Dube to attack. I think the most important thing is that someone tells Shalrie not to let Blanco get the best of him. No, the odds probably aren’t in the Revvies favor, but I think they’ve got a shot.

  3. AndrewK says:

    Mansally looked good on the left wing last week. Brad, what are your thoughts on a 3-man front line of Mansally-Dube-Nyassi? A 4-3-3 with the three Africans up top could be a very fast attack. I would love to see it. Sticking to your favored 3-back system though, perhaps a 3-4-3?

  4. bradfeldman says:

    Andrew-

    I would doubt the Revs switch to a three-man front. I think with Chicago flooding the midfield like they do that this could be dangerous. You’ve got Rolfe, Mapp, Pause and Thorrington with Blanco dropping in…even at home, a 4-3-3 or 3-4-3 (untested) strike me as dangerous. I think that pushing Nyassi into the attack will happen when the Revolution get forward, but he really needs to play a true midfield position or Mapp will roam free on Chicago’s left flank. I like your attacking mentality but these playoffs games often turn into midfield rock fights so you need to have the manpower to compete in that crucial middle third of the field.

    King Henry-

    Thanks for weighing in with the Shakespeare…an inspired touch that this space has never seen before. But while you may see this upcoming series for the Revs as an undermanned, Battle of Agincourt scenario, I’m inclined to counter the Bard with the Grandmaster…Flash, that is, and the Furious Five:

    Freedom

    So my name is Raheim
    I’m a son of a queen
    I’m the king of a castle
    Don’t give me no hassle
    Young ladies in the place, put me on
    When I’m a part of your life, you can never go wrong

    You say at first my name was Denny Den – UH
    The secret weapon, the master plan
    I’m slick, I’m cool, I’m solid gold
    They call me the Kid Creole

    I’m the C.O.W.B.O.Y. – why
    The man’s so bad that you can’t deny
    And when you act the cowboy to play
    I’m Cowboy, I never ran away

    Grandmaster. Cut faster.
    Than any known stone to the bone
    full grown, he’s a one of a kind
    And Flash is gonna rock your mind – HUH!
    Flash two times
    Beat, beat, you and the crew, hold it!
    Why don’t you find somebody and party!
    I like this part
    Get down
    Hold up, hold up
    Quickly now, quickly now
    The bass was in your face
    The highs make you nature rise, Young ladies in the place
    Feel the highs, feel the bass
    If you wanna rock till the break of dawn, somebody say, “Come on!”
    “Come on!”

    The butter, the bread
    The bread to the butter
    C’mon everybody let’s rock one and other
    Hey ashes to ashes, and dust to dust
    Nobody rocks the mic like the five of us

    You say the bread to the butter and the butter to the bread
    Don’t be misled by what I said
    You say dust to dust and ashes to ashes
    No man can cut like Grand Master the Flash does.

    You’re the one, You’re the one, You’re the one, You’re the one

    And you don’t stop – to the pop-a-de-pop
    You don’t stop that-pop-de-pop
    Just clap your hands and get on the go
    Then you rock to the beat in stereo
    And if you wanna help us get on the go
    Scream it out and say, “Oh’!”
    “Oh’!”
    And you don’t stop
    And if you wanna rock to the broad daylight
    somebody say, “What it look like!”
    “What it look like!”
    And you don’t stop
    I’m gonna talk about the man that’s the real McCoy
    No other cool brother but Keith Cowboy
    Wears an eight and a half, 29 waist
    A medium shirt, take a look at my face
    You check out my hair and then you look in my eyes
    ‘Cause all I’m here to do girls is make you hypnotized
    And then you hip hop, you shoo-bop do-bop, take a look on your arm and check the clock. Let’s do it. Let’s do it, you know you got to do-do it, to the beat ya’ll, you don’t you better not, you don’t stop that body rock.

  5. henry5 says:

    With you on the 3-5-2 Brad… I think Nicol will probably lean toward Thompson as a replacement for Smith, and Castro as a replacement for Ralston.

    However I would like to point out how much success the Revs enjoyed early in the season with a 4 man back line of Albright, Parkhurst, Heaps and Igwe. What has Igwe done (or not done) to earn the wrath of Steve NIcol (I mean OTHER than his horrible play at center back in the superliga final). He looked really dangerous as an attacking left back. Also Tierney showed some skill at left wing – maybe he’ll do the job instead of Thompson, but I think Nicol likes the Veteran presence.

  6. henry5 says:

    its a 4-4-2

    Albright – Parkhurst – Heaps – Tierney
    —-Nyassi- Big Red – Joseph – Castro
    ————-Mansally – Dube

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t like Tierney at left back. He is too timid on the ball and plays way too defensively. Tonight is the night we need to be aggressive on the ball, and score a number of goals before we head off to Chicago.

    Whatever happened to Igwe? Despite his poor play at Center Back, I thought he was great at left back.

  7. Joe says:

    Why is Coach Nicol going with a 4-4-2? And to add insult to injury putting Tierney at left back. I agree with your sidekick Greg Lalas, they should stick to the 3-5-2 and pressure their midfield. Tierney has never played under this kind of pressure, not counting out the Superliga game against Pachuca. But after that game he did not show much. Granted Nicol wants more support in the back, to cover Mapp running down the flank, but I do not think the kid can contain him. I hope I am wrong. Anyway here are my keys to this game. 1.Put a marker on Rolfe and follow him all over the field. He appears out of no where to score goals. 2. They need to harrass Blanco and take him out of his game. 3. Even though he is not he player he once was they have to watch McBride during corner kicks and set pieces, a Revs weakness during recent games. 4.Contain Justin Mapp and stop him from crossing the ball into the box, Also keep an eye out for Gutierrez, when he is in the game he also likes to serve balls in. 5. The african trio will have to have a stellar night to have any chance in this series, that means that Nyassi and Dube will have to use their speed and take on defenders with confidence, Also Mansally should get physical with Sourmare in the middle. We will need at least a two or three goal cushion going into Chicago.

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