Even after a major roster overhaul this offseason there were still questions about the strengths of the Revolution at forward and left back. There were never any questions about the Earthquakes forwards. So, add in an injury surprise from Friday’s practice and an unexpected glaring error and a Wondolowski goal sounds about right.
Darrius Barnes on crutches!? Darirus is not a natural left back, though he showed enough to earn that start over rookie Tyler Polak. Chris Tierney’s return from suspension next week will be welcome. AJ Soares’ first start anywhere else beside centerback was unexpected and he struggled at left back. This combination of suspension and injury likely contributed to unsettling the New England defense before even taking the field.
Saer Sène’s knee injury and Pepe Moreno’s still-delayed arrival meant that our recently imported strikers were unable to contribute to this game. This sounds frustratingy similar to 2011. Blake Brettschnieder and Fernando Cardenas are unproven and this game did nothing to change that impression. Brettschnieder had a promising rookie campaign with DC United. He hopes to rebound with our team after being, which is still looking to rebound from falling back in MLS as the Designated Player era began and continues. Cardenas is young – I don’t believe he was brought in to be our opening day starter. The Revolution’s attack will likely look much different from what we saw on opening night, though, until we see differently, the Revs offensive futility is perhaps our most consistent characteristic.
Those weaknesses were apparent in the lead up to this game even if the knocks that Saer and Darrius picked up were unexpected. Any discussion of the Revs this offseason, however, described our midfield as a strength. Before the Wondo goal we did look dangerous, but found ourselves battling from behind after 15 minutes – again echoes of 2011. How disapointing that our captain, Shalrie Joseph, THE face of the Revs for years now, committed the turnover that lead to the game’s only goal. That rookie Kelyn Rowe’s preseason success might get snagged or bogged down in the rush and press of competitive in-season games is not surprising. Rowe will make plenty of plays during his career – even if his MLS debut was underwhelming. A veteran leader and a newly minted Designated Player producing the pivot point around which this result turned, however, that is both unexpected and dissapointing.
While we are talking about disapointing outings for Revs, I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that when I meet with Josh Nelson for The Rebel Allicance Podcast, we will all hear a lot about Kevin Alston. The promise of Alston’s talent when he entered MLS has not grown into mature and steady performances. Alston’s play might be the best metaphorical demonstration in this loss to San Jose for the challenges that our rookie head coach, Jay Heaps, faces during this rebuilding year.
How many players made their Revolution debut against San Jose? Both forwards, Brettschnieder and Cardenas, Kelyn Rowe and Clyde Simms (what a great acquisition he seems today, right?) in the midfield, and John Lozano at center back. Add in Steven McCarthy and AJ Soares making their first starts in positions they’ve never played in for this team at center back and left back, respectively, and there is now doubt that Coach Heaps has changed our Revs’ line up. Even with the subs we saw some new players. Tyler Polak did earn some minutes and Lee Nguyen may have made a case for more minutes even if he couldn’t turn the game to our favor. Coach’s short-passing and possession oriented style, however, was not on display consistently and certainly not effectively enough. There is plenty of work for he and his staff to do as the Revs prepare to enter the blue cauldron of Sporting Kansas City’s LiveStrong Park next week.
(image courtesy of revolutionsoccer.net)