Stoehrst of The Bent Musket, SB Nation's New England Revolution blog, and I exchanged three questions a piece ahead of tonight's Union-NER match at PPL Park. Read my responses to Denz's questions by heading to The Bent Musket.
tBG:There have been some recent additions to the Revolution offense. Who has been most impressive so far?
The Bent Musket: I don't think there's any question that the most impressive offensive addition right now is Milton Caraglio. He has the best scoring record of any newcomer in a Revolution shirt this season and genuinely looks dangerous all the time. Especially in the draw against New York, it felt like every time he touched the ball he could do something, and he really had his way with the Red Bulls defense. Benny Feilhaber has also had a great impact, but it's been over a longer time and there have been moments where he's disappeared, while Rajko Lekic has produced only sporadically. Caraglio, though, looks to be the real deal.
tBG: Last time these two teams met the Union dominated the game, winning 3-0. Have the Revolution improved at all since that last meeting, or will it be more of the same?
TBM: The Revs have definitely gotten better since then, without a doubt. People like to forget that Shalrie Joseph was suspended for that last match, meaning New England was operating at 60% strength at best. Furthermore, the addition of Milton Caraglio has added firepower up front and Monsef Zerka has a chance to really lock down some quality on the right side of midfield. I'm not saying the Revolution are suddenly world-beaters, but if the Union are expecting to walk all over the Revs just like last time, they have another thing coming.
tBG: The Revolution currently sit in last place in the Eastern Conference, with only three points in their last five games, just as the Union have done recently. Has there been a feeling during this recent streak of struggles for New England that there may be a light at the end of the tunnel? Or are these struggles here to stay for the remainder of the season?
TBM: Caraglio's brace inspired a level of optimism for the late stages of the season, but when the Red Bulls were let right back in that confidence dissipated again. Honestly, the only optimism seems to exist within the organization, and that's mostly because the front office tends to operate as though they live with their heads in the sand. The players have been refusing to talk playoffs but not ruling them out, but in reality you could see it in the locker room after the match against New York. Everyone knows the Revs are out of it, and what's very disheartening for the fans is that no one sees a way out. I think as long as the current ownership group and/or player acquisition staff remains in control and keeps doing things the way they're doing them, disillusionment among the supporters will simply grow. That sort of malaise doesn't bode well for player morale at the club, either.
tBG: Sharlie Joseph is having a fine season, scoring wise, for a midfielder. Is it a concern that he has seven goals, while the total number of goals from players listed as forwards by the Revolution is only 11? Is that indicative of poor play the entire season from the men up front?
TBM: Of course it's a concern. Shalrie is a great talent, has a good shot and is an aerial threat, but he should NOT be shouldering the scoring load. New England's strikers have been nothing short of abysmal this year (much like last year) and much of the blame can be placed on them. Whether it's the unfathomable inconsistency of Kenny Mansally, the unfortunate decline of Zack Schilawski or Rajko Lekic's inexplicable inability to stay onside or demonstrate good off-the-ball movement, everyone who has led the line for New England this season has been a general disappointment in one way or another. That said, it doesn't help that the general play of this team has been quite subpar and none of these strikers are being served up quality chances on a regular basis.
This whole season has been a debacle, Scott, and there are far too many intertwined factors for me to really break it down.
tBG: Has Matt Reis come under any criticism this season for the Revolution letting in the fourth most goals in MLS?
TBM: Nope. Mostly because he's maybe two poor games all season. Reis might have that poor goals-allowed total but he's also second in the league in saves behind Stefan Frei, and the Revs have two games in hand on Toronto. The team in front of him has turned his eighteen into a shooting gallery, and it's amazing that he's managed to keep the GAA as low as it is. He won't get it, but Matt Reis should be team MVP and should be in line for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year at the very least.