The New England Revolution have been a depressing sight to watch the past couple seasons. They have made the playoffs the last 8 years (ever since Steve Nicol became the official head coach in 2002). They have made the finals 4 times (3 in a row) during that stretch. Sadly they have not won the championship in their 14 year history. Just as Red Sox fans would proclaim for 86 years, “there is always next year”, New England would cry for a championship after being within a goal 4 times.
I’m not Sports Illustrated. I don’t predict the Red Sox will be in third place behind the Yankee’s and Rays. How do they know the Red Sox won’t dominate the East? Their formula for success is beyond me. We can all make educated guesses I suppose, but for all you viewers as my witness’s, I say to you now with full confidence…The New England Revolution will win the 2010 MLS Cup.
Watching the 2010 Revolution can become confusing because the roster is filled with rookies and new acquisitions, but boy do those players produce. During the MLS opener, Preston Burpo showed he is a perfect replacement for the ailing Matt Reis by holding the rival Galaxy to 1 goal. A goalie can’t carry a team by himself though. After watching our rev’s shutout in the first game, it was off to our nation’s capital to face D.C. United. From the first minute it was a close game. It looked as if Steve Nicol’s players haven’t adjusted to the new members of the team. This was game 2 of the season without a goal for the blue, white, and red and it wasn’t even until the 68th minute that I saw some hope.
Mansally surprisingly was a substitute with promising rookie Zack Schilawki getting the start up front. His 4 goals in the preseason (team high) definitely convinced Nicol’s to give him some major playing time. With a 0-0 tie throughout the game however, something needed to change. Mansally substituted for Z-Schil in the 68th minute and provided the much needed energy the team needed.
After great ball control throughout the half, the magic happened in the 80th minute. Chris Tierny controlled a long cross into the left corner creating some space. He then blasts a line drive cross into the box, deflected slightly by D.C United player Dejan Jakovic but right to the boot of Kenny Mansally for the one-timer. It was a beautifully executed play with the ball-handling by Tierney and speed of Mansally. This gave the Rev’s the 1-0 lead, but Mansally wasn’t finished. He wanted to prove that he should be a 90 minute player. In the 82nd minute, Kenny Mansally received the ball at the top of the box with 2 defenders in front; he fakes the shot, pulls back drawing the defense away, and with a small opening, curls the ball around the defenders, and over D.C. United goalie Troy Perkins to give an insurance goal.
Now I’m not a sports analyst. I’m not a writer for NESN or EPSN. I’m just a fan who is pretty good at predicting seasons and statistics about players (sadly I did lose in fantasy basketball though to my archenemy Pat Decola). From what I saw in this game however gives me hope that the Revolution will be the top of the league this year. They may be young; they may have new players, they may have nagging injuries (Twellman and Joseph OUT). Even with all this trouble, Steve Nicol has a whole season to find the formula and bring a 5th appearance in the MLS Cup to New England (and I assure you they will make it). In my mind, the Revolution are built defensive-minded with a few true strikers. From this game we saw they can hold their own on their own side of the pitch and that their weakness, just as last year, will be the lack of goal-scorers. We have many new names and faces to learn in 2010, but once this team clicks, they will be one of the most feared squads in the MLS.