By Kevin Koczwara
To say this season has been a disappointment for the New England Revolution, is an understatement. The Revs (5-14-12, 27 pts.) sit at the bottom of Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference pig-pile. Only expansion side Vancouver Whitecaps have fewer points than the Revolution, with 22. But no team has been as frustrating as the Revolution.
New England has a dismal negative-16 goal differential in 31 games — 35 goals scored, 51 conceded — and yet, games have seemed so much closer than that for much of the year. The Revolution must have at least a negative-14 goal differential because the team has lost 14 games this year. For the rest of the season, the team is negative -2, and that says a lot about how close the team has been from turning losing efforts into wins. It’s on the cusp of figuring this whole thing out and sorting out the big problems.
The major problem holding the Revolution back this season? Holding on to leads and making early goals count. The problem goes all the way back to week one. The Revolution had a tough first game of the season against arguably the most complete and skilled team in MLS, the Los Angeles Galaxy, to open the season, but the Revs took an early lead through a Shalrie Joseph goal in the 3rd minute. With driving rain and a soaked field, the Revs hung on to life and were able to secure an admirable draw. But looking back, the game is a prototypical one for the Revolution this season — score early and squander the lead, earning a draw or worse losing the game altogether.
The warning signs were there in weak one: poor defense out wide, a lack of true hold-up player, and a lack of viable options on the bench to turn things around. With the additions of Ryan Guy, Benny Feilhaber in the midfield and the team’s first ever Designated Player Milton Caraglio (a true No. 9), New England filled some of those holes. But old habits don’t die easily.
Looking over New England’s season, 11 times New England took a lead and endued up either drawing or a losing. The team could have amassed 33 points in those games if it finished off the wins. It could be in the playoff hunt. Instead, New England earned a measly eight points from the games — a loss of 25 points .
1.) New England Revolution 1 at LA Galaxy 1
March 20, 2011 at The Home Depot Center
NE – Joseph (Perovic) 3
LA – Juninho (unassisted) 39
2.) Portland Timbers 1 at New England Revolution 1
April 2, 2011 at Gillette Stadium
NE – McCarthy (unassisted) 22
POR – Jewsbury (Hall, Cooper) 38
3.) New England Revolution 1 at Seattle Sounders FC 2
June 26, 2011 at CenturyLink Field
NE – Nyassi (Feilhaber) 3
SEA – Wahl (unassisted) 34, Fernandez (Levesque, Rosales) 40
4.)New England Revolution 3 at Real Salt Lake 3
July 4, 2011 at Rio Tinto Stadium
NE – Lekic (penalty) 4, Tierney (unassisted) 16, Joseph (Feilhaber) 63
RSL – Johnson (unassisted) 24, Saborio (penalty) 56, Espindola (Saborio, Olave) 83
5.) New England Revolution 2 at Colorado Rapids 2
July 23, 2011 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
NE – Feilhaber (McCarthy, Alston) 25, Joseph (penalty kick) 90
COL – Folan (penalty kick) 65, Kimura (unassisted) 82
6.) New England Revolution 1 at Sporting Kansas City 1
July 30, 2011 at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park
NE – Lekic (Reis) 38
SKC – Burnbury (unassisted) 89
7.) New England Revolution 1 at Columbus Crew 3
August 13, 2011 at Crew Stadium
NE – Feilhaber (Phelan) 45
CLB- Own Goal (Alston) 54, James (Gardner) 75, Renteria (Rogers, Duka) 81
8.) Houston Dynamo 1 at New England Revolution 1
August 17, 2011 at Gillette Stadium
NE- Cochrane (unassisted) 4
HOU – Boswell (unassisted) 91+
9.) New York Red Bulls 2 at New England Revolution 2
August 20, 2011 at Gillette Stadium
NE- Caraglio (unassisted) 15, Caraglio (Mansally) 37
NY – Richards (Ream) 53, Richards (Lindpere, Marquez) 87
10.) New England Revolution 4 at Philadelphia Union 4
September 7, 2011 at PPL Park
NE – Soares (Tierney) 9, Lekic (penalty kick), Zerka (Tierney) 25, Feilhaber (Lekic) 33
PHI- Torres (Williams) 28, Adu (Mwanga, Paunovic) 54, Le Toux (penalty kick) 79, Le Toux (Paunovic) 92+
11.) Seattle Sounders FC 2 at New England Revolution 1
October 1, 2011 at Gillette Stadium
NE- Fagundez (Feilhaber) 35
Scoring – SEA – Montero (unassisted) 36, Montero (Jaqua) 48
If the New England got those 33 points, plus it’s total of five wins so far, it would have the Eastern Conference’s top spot, with 48 points, and a chance to host a playoff game. Instead, the Revolution will be watching the MLS Cup from their couches and the Revs will again have a top 10 draft pick in the MLS Draft come spring. It’s been a season of almosts, and solid starts, but an inability to hold on and get vital wins will leave the Revs players thinking “what if?” this winter.
Kevin Koczwara can be reached at email@example.com.