Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Iron Donkeys

Last night's disgraceful performance by Atlante may have marred an excellent match, but your New England Revolution endured. The Revs were able to take the physical play and run with it. Atlante decided to resort to goonish tactics as the game wore on. Critics of Superliga will be able to jump all over this. One thing that we can take out of this, is that these two teams really wanted to win. Only one knew how to win, however.

Whether it was due the frustration of losing, the non-penalty on Larentowicz (handball), or just terrible refereeing altogether, Atlante could not keep their composure. A flurry of cards (both red and yellow) at the end of the match showed Atlante to be truly pathetic and childish.

We here at GGR have decided to rename Atlante from the Iron Colts, to the Iron Donkeys. It seems to be more fitting. Teams that cowardly throw cheap-shot punches at the end of games are nothing more than pathetic donkeys. Keeper, and Captain Frederico Vilar shows true leadership when he sucker punches random Revs players after the final whistle. He then is interviews by Spanish language television after the match and says this:

"We can't talk. We are in a dangerous country. A very dangerous country."translated from spanish

Talk about having his head up his own arse. The first thing I always do in a dangerous country is sucker punch a few people, and act like a complete fool. That usually helps me survive dangerous situations.

It is sad that a disgraceful ending had to be the lasting memory of a great Revolution victory. The Revs handle the situation with class and dignity. Heaps was handed a red card at the end of the game, and will miss the final. Other than Heaps' infraction, the Revs handled the cheap shots and dirty play well, and focused their energy on the field.

New England were able to outlast a very talented Atlante side. Atlante actually looked to be the more technically gifted team, but were unable to focus their aggression in the right way. While other Mexican sides backed away from New England's physical play, Atlante tried to step up and play them just as physical. Unfortunately they did not do it the right way. Instead of hard legal challenges, they resorted to elbows and late tackles. Atlante decided to throw punches, instead of trying to score goals. The Iron Donkeys displayed a pathetic tactic, and rightfully lost. They only have themselves to blame, and their coaching staff, organization and fans should be embarrassed.

Interestingly enough, these two teams could possibly meet in the CCL group stage. After this match, and the preseason friendly that was also marred by red cards and stupid fouls, there could be a real ugly feud going on between these two teams. I shudder to think how the matches will turn out if/when they meet down the road.

Well, it is on to another final against Houston.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Noonan Close to Revs Return?

Pat Noonan is close to re-signing with the New England Revolution after leaving the team during the off-season, sources close to the deal tell

Noonan has seen limited time since his move to Norway. Mostly due to injuries, which has been a major problem for him in recent years. New England really does not need a forward who cannot run or finish, especially if such a player cannot keep fit. While the team could use more production out of it's forwards, Noonan is likely not the answer. Since his first two seasons with the Revs, he has not been able to find that goal scoring touch. He could provide some depth for the crammed schedule coming up, however.

There was also this story on July 3rd in the Columbus Dispatch that suggested the Columbus Crew were looking to acquire Noonan's services for the remainder of the season. Could the Revs possibly be stepping in the way of that, so they could acquire compensation from Columbus (or another team) in a trade?

Idle Strong

Twenty-five days ago, New England played their last league match verse the LA Beckhams. After that 2-1 victory the Revs were seven points clear of Columbus who had played three less games than the Revolution. Since that time the Crew have taken only five points in four matches. Now the Revs are two points clear and have a game in hand on Columbus. With a win this weekend Columbus would move top of the table by a point, but would have played three more league games than the Revs.

RSL is now the inform team in MLS, but still sit six points behind New England as the third highest point total in MLS. They have played 19 matches (two more than the Revs). With RSL's current form, it is possible that they could pose a threat.

Chicago seems to be the only other team within shouting distance right now, and they are still 7 points behind on the same amount of games. They have recently acquired star American striker Brian McBride, but he will not report to the team until after the Olympics. The match on the 9th verse the Revs and Chicago is going to be very key. New England could potentially put Chicago out of the Supporters Shield race with a victory over the Fire.

The rest of the teams in MLS seem to be treading water. No team has made a significant push in the last month. Toronto, and LA are really struggling. DC had been idle for Superliga after their blistering league form. However, they followed up a disappointing Superliga performance with an equally bad showing against Houston last week. Dallas and Chivas have been mediocre, and have lost key players to transfers. Kansas City and Colorado continue to be underachievers this season, and don't look to be contenders.

Does this mean that the Revs only real competition for the Supporters Shield will be RSL, Columbus and Chicago? It would seem so at this point. New England has a very busy month coming up, but with the rest of the league refusing to try and gain ground on them things look to be working out for the Revs without even playing a game in over a month.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Brink

As we see it now, on July 24th, The Revolution sit atop the MLS table, and in the semi-finals of both the US Open Cup and Super Liga. In a month they begin CONCACAF Champions League play in a qualifier against Joe Public FC (T&T). Are the Revs on the brink of something extraordinary, or will we be left empty handed yet again?

I understand that the Revolution put an end to their woeful ways last season when they finally broke through, and won the USOC. However, 4 MLS Cup losses, and a number of disappointing international performances have Revolution fans a bit humble, if not cautious. As it stands today the team is in a position to do something no MLS side has ever done, win a treble, with even the possibility of a seemingly impossible quadruple.

There have been 8 Double winners. DC ('96, '97 and '99), Chicaco ('98, '03), LA ('02, '05) and Kansas City once in 2003. DC came the closest to winning the treble in 1997, but lost in the USOC final to Dallas. Without getting too nostalgic over the history of MLS sides I feel it necessary only to put this into context.

Of course this is a case of putting the cart before the horse here, however. The Revs still have a lot to do in all of these competitions. They play Atlante FC (Mexico) next Wednesday in the semifinal of Superliga. They are going to have to finish out this competition without star defender Michael Parkhurst, who is on call for the Olympic team, and likely without star striker Taylor Twellman, who has yet to come back from a series of injuries this season. Couple that with recent injuries to Mauricio Castro, Jeff Larentowicz, scary concussion suffered by Pat Phelan and the shock retirement of Chase Hilgenbrink and the Revs are left a bit short handed heading into the most congested part of their schedule.

Beginning with the Atlante game, the Revs have the potential to play 11 matches in 39 days, including Semifinals and Finals in both Superliga and USOC, and the qualifiers against Joe Public FC for the CCL. In that time the Revs also have critical league matches at home against both Chicago and DC, and away matches against DC and second place Columbus. While most teams in the league have failed to gain much ground on the Revs since their break for Superliga, the lead for the Supporters Shield is hardly comfortable.

There are also scheduling issues with the USOC. They are scheduled now to play Chivas in league play on August 11th @ home. Then the very next day they are scheduled to play their USOC semifinal against DC @ RFK. The USOC Final is scheduled for Sunday August 24th. The previous day New England will have been @ Toronto, and then two days later (26th) will be traveling to T&T for their opening leg qualifier verse Joe Public.

With media members and fans touting the depth of this team for the last few weeks, there will be a sure test of depth from now until September 6th. They do have over a week off to rest right now, but their days off will be few and far between come next Wednesday. The month of August will likely tell us where this team stands in all competitions. Of course the USOC and Superliga will have been completed by then, but the league and Champions League will still be in full swing.

I did waiver for the last few days over writing this type of post. However, I think it as good a time as any to look forward for the rest of the season. This is the only prolonged break that the team will have until the end of the season. With August being the most congested, and at the same time most critical, month of the season it is prudent for us to understand just what this team can accomplish. More important than thinking about what the team can accomplish, is to realistically look at how they are going to have to go about it. There is a real shot for this team to make history, but there is also the likely-hood that they could end up empty handed at the end of the season. Things don't have to be that absolute however. If the team were to win one or two trophies this season it would still be looked at as a successful campaign. Some may set their expectations a bit high right now, but they have to sit back and realize what this team has to go through to get there.

Possible games against Mexico's two best teams, or even the possibility of playing the team which has beaten the Revs in each of the last two MLS Cup Finals. A match at RFK in the USOC semifinal, which is never easy. Three critical league matches verse DC, one against Chicaco, and home/away matches verse second place Columbus. They must also go out to San Jose, and up to Toronto, which are too away venues that are very difficult to play in. Joe Public FC may not seem like a tough squad on it's face, but given the time they have to play the games, it could spell real trouble for the Revs Champions League endeavor.

Cherish the time now Revs fans, as the team is sitting in a situation that we could only dream of. Remember our past, but do not fear it. Competitions are there for our taking, but do not have an excess of expectations. It is O.K to expect the best out of your team, but realize just how hard it is for teams to do just what the Revs could possibly do this season. No matter the results, it is clear that this team has a very interesting road ahead of itself. These next few weeks are going to be an extremely fun and interesting time to be a Revs fan. Let us all hope for the best. Let us all dream of Glory.

Glory Glory Revolution!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Young Revs

This is a segment that we will be trying to update quite frequently. Although the Revolution Academy is in it's very early stages, there are still some players that we can focus on. We hope to get a better picture, and more in depth analysis into the Academy as we move forward into the future. Any contributions to this segment would be greatly appreciated.

For now however there are some young players to be very optimistic about. We will start with the two young Gambian players, Kenny Mansally and Sainey Nyassi. Both of these players were scouted by the Revs, and ultimately signed after the U-20 World Cup last summer (2007). After only making brief cameo appearances for the club at the end of last season, the two have made dramatic impacts for the senior club already at their young age (both 19 years old).

Mansally (striker) has shown his ability to work off the ball, and create space up front for the midfield to move through. His willingness to go at the goal is also encouraging. He showed signs of goal scoring in the preseason, but has yet to make a huge impact on the score sheet. He has scored just two goals this season in 11 games, but when you watch his contributions on the field, you understand just how valuable he has been in opening up space for Adam Christman and Kheli Dube.

Nyassi has been equally, if not more impressive this season. As an impressively athletic right midfielder, he has shown his willingness to run at defenders in MLS and wreak havoc up and down the right sideline. His speed and athleticism have couple with his strong technical ability to allow him to open up vast amounts of space for the likes of Shalrie and Ralston to dominate the middle of the field. He has been proficient in winning the byline, and setting up many goals and scoring chances for the strikers on the field. One can only imagine how many goals Twellman could have netted this year, if healthy, with the balls being swung in from Nyassi. Nyassi, like Mansally, has 2 goals and 1 assist on the season so far.

Another young player who has begun to contribute for the team is left back Amaechi Igwe (20 years old). The USA youth international has shown at times his willingness to attack from the back, and stretch the field with long attacking runs. His defensive postures sometimes finds him out of position, and left trailing the attack, but his willingness to play physical and use his athleticism seems to have Nicol impressed, as well as the fans who have big hopes for the young defender. He was drafted by the club in the '07 Superdraft.

Two little known American players were also acquired by the Revs in the off-season. Former Valencia youth player Brandon Manzonelli (18 years old) decided to make his way stateside after trialling for Man City and Blackburn in the BPL. The young American starlet signed with Valencia at the age of 16, and had great success with their U-18 squad. The attacking midfielder signed a development contract with the Revs in May and has since seen time on the reserve team, and for the senior team in both USOC matches.

The other young American player is 19 year old midfielder Brandon Tyler. The defensive midfielder signed a development contract with the Revs in April of this year after spending much of last year training with Uruguayan club Centro Atletico Fenix. He has also spent time with the reserves, and found time in both USOC matches.

21 year old Costa Rican striker, Argenis Fernandez was signed by the team in the off season. While he failed to make an impact with the club this season, he was loaned out to Costa Rican power LD Alejuelense for the remainder of the season. His future with the Revs may seems a bit uncertain now, but he also showed his ability at the U-20 World Cup last season like his two Gambian teammates.

In the future this segment will be reserved mostly for youth players who have yet to become regulars with the Senior team. Right now it is nice to look at the team and point out just how many good young players they have. Nyassi, Mansally and Igwe already look to be future staples with the team. While Manzonelli, Tyler and Fernandez are also very talented players who could find themselves contributing to the team next year or the season after. It is exciting to see the forward thinking of Revs personnel management, and hopefully we will have good news about talented young players coming through the academy soon.

As stated above, please feel free to contribute any information about the Academy players and younger players in the organization.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Superliga: Match 1

Superliga Group stage
vs. Santos (Mexico)
Result: W 1-0

The Revs opened up their first ever Superliga competition with an impressive performance over Mexican 2008 Clausura Champions Santos Laguna. Kheli Dube scored the loan goal of the match in the 70th minute on an assist from Steve Ralston. Sainey Nyassi had won the bi-line and put the ball in front of goal, and Ralston flicked it onto Dube who threaded it into the back of the net.

The performance was over-all very impressive. Dominating performances from Ralston and Joseph, helped the Revs secure the middle of the field. Their success was helped large in part by Nyassi's ability to stretch the Santos right hand side very thin. Nyassi bombed up and down the line taking on defenders and running Santos ragged.

Michael Parkhurst was uncharacteristically unsure of himself last night. Vuoso turned him around like a top, and Parkhurst's distribution was shocking. The slick passing, and great off-ball movement of Santos exposed a few of the Revolution defenders at times.

The turf seemed to slow down the Santos passing game, and slowed their ability to carve out passes, dribbling and shooting in the offensive third. The physicality of the Revs, and their sheer athleticism, really threw off Santos. Although Santos appeared to be the most impressive technically skilled team of the match, the Revolution out played them from whistle to whistle. They intimidated Santos, and ultimately the speed and Athleticism of a 19 year old Gambian carved through the Santos defense.

It will be interesting to see how they match up with Pachuca on Wednesday. I believe that if they come out with the same physical intensity that they will be able to get a good result against a team that is traveling across the country to play in just three days.

Hilgenbrink asks "WWJD?"

Chase, we hardly knew you.

It was announced on the team website today that 26 year defender, Chase Hilgenbrink, has retired from professional soccer. He made the decision to enter the seminary in pursuit of becoming a Catholic priest.

The moves comes as somewhat of a shock to us, as we had no idea of his ambitions in this endeavor. The decision to retire opened up a roster slot, for which the team used the opportunity to promote 25 year old Zimbabwe native, Kheli Dube. Hilgenbrink had made 4 appearances for New England in MLS matches, and appeared in both US Open Cup matches.

In his limited time with the team, Chase helped supply a thin Revolution defense with serviceable ability at the back. Now the Revs find themselves very limited in the defensive options. Only recent acquisition Pat Phelan, and rookie Christ Tierny have even seen first team action this season in MLS. Valentino and Brill have seen time in USOC games, but have yet to see the pitch for MLS matches.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


So we have had some troubles getting regular posts up. We have also been dissatisfied with the quality of our original material. We intend this blog to be more than just pre/post game posts. Hopefully from here on out we can provide you with some thought provoking material, and insightful ideas.