Friday, July 17, 2009

The Setting Sun

Flash back almost 1 year ago, to 7/20/2008. I wrote this post, as the Revs were in the middle of a great run, and in position to compete in every competition they were in. They had just gone through the group stage of SuperLiga rather easily. A few weeks prior they had beaten Crystal Palace Baltimore to advance to the USOC semifinal. They were sitting atop the MLS overall standings, gaining strength as teams below them dropped points all while they were idle in league games due to other competitions. The CONCACAF Champions League was on the horizon. Taylor Twellman hadn't even seen the field yet, and the team was cruising. Things looked fantastic. Then the wheels came off...

Although I have been critical of SuperLiga as a legitimate competition, I will give the team credit for finishing off that competition last year, and taking home a well deserved trophy. What happened after that however, has been nothing short of a disaster through today.

Little by little the team began to pick up nagging injuries. Twellman, Castro, Larentowicz, Phelan, Joseph, Badilla, Igwe, Ralston etc... all helped play a part in a downward spiral. The Revs also played 11 games in 39 days between July and the beginning of August, in a number of competitions. A number of cross country, and even cross continental trips in a matter of days, also took its toll. The team that had shown signs of quality depth at the beginning of the season, were starting to show its inexperience and real lack of quality throughout the squad.

Since the Revs won SuperLiga last season, they are 6-11-9 in league play (27 points in 26 matches). They crashed out of the CONCACAF Champions League, being outscored 6-1 in two matches vs. T&T side Joe Public. The Revs lost the semifinal of the 2008 USOC to DC 3-1 in a very lackluster effort. The Revs crashed out of third round of this years USOC to USL-2 side Harrisburgh. They failed to advance in MLS Cup, with a crushing loss in the first round to Chicago. Failed to qualify for the 2009 CCL. Another cup loss to Chicago, in the SuperLiga this time (just a few days ago). In all competitions, through 36 matches, the Revs have won just 8 matches, and drew 11. They have lost the other 17 matches, and have been outscored by their opponents 42-59.

With a continuing trend of poor play, injuries, age and players lost, can it be asked if the sun is setting on this Revs run? Of course they have rebuilt the squad with a lot of youth, and only a handful remain from the MLS Cup sides, but the core is still there, although aging, and injury prone. It has been a while since this team has really enforced its will on the league, and other teams. It has also been a while since the team was completely healthy. As high as we were as fans a year ago, is seemingly as low as we are right now. I'm not sure if the bottom has been reached, and if it has, if we will begin to ascend back toward the top of the league. There seem to be many more questions about this team than real answers. Where will the goals come from? Will Twellman ever come back? Can Ralston and Joseph stay fit? Can the team maintain possession through large stretches of games? Will the young players step up their game? Will Larentowicz be gone at the end of the season? Will Nicol stay? Will Mariner be lured away? Will the tam be moved to Montreal(as rumored by MLS Rumors)? Is there a light at the end of this dark, dark tunnel? Let's hope that the sun is not setting on this club.

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