Tomorrow evening, the Union travels up to Foxborough, Mass to face a struggling New England Revolution team. Today I had the chance to pose a few questions to Steve Stoehr of the Bent Musket, and he kindly obliged with answers to these questions which should influence the game. This series is titled Three Questions, but I decided to toss in a fourth for the fun of it. Here you go:
Q1: So obviously the Revs have had a rough spell, especially with two recent heartbreaking results from winning positions. How is this team holding up, and are their tanks full enough to compete so soon after another disappointment against Chivas?
A: Good question. I got the sense from Jay Heaps in his postgame press conference Wednesday night that these guys are at their wits' end. If it's not one thing, it's another, and going nine games without a win would weigh on anybody's mind. They'll be encouraged by their ability to score, though, so watch out for that. In terms of the fatigue, that could be the biggest factor in this match. I think they'll have the legs to put up a fight, but given the issues the Revs have been having even when fully rested, I have to believe it's going to hurt them.
Q2: With 7 goals conceded in 2 games, do you see Jay Heaps making any changes in the backline heading into this game? If not, what needs to change to keep the Union off the scoreboard?
A: He darn well should. If I had to guess, there's a chance we might see Darrius Barnes starting this game, either in central defense or giving Chris Tierney a breather. The quick turnaround on games could see Florian Lechner get a start over Kevin Alston, too, but if you're having trouble with defending, Flo's not the guy you turn to.
Q3: On the flip side, New England's offensive output has been good recently, especially seeing that Saer Sene grabbed two goals against the Goats. Can you compare and contrast the Revs' two forwards, Sene and Jerry Bengtson, and what kinds of problems they may cause a Union backline that may be without captain Carlos Valdes?
A: Saer is a slasher, where Jerry is more of a mixer or a bruiser. Sene likes to make diagonal runs, beat guys on the dribble, get in the box, and score. Jerry also enjoys scoring, but he's a guy who likes to throw his weight around a bit more. He helped create Sene's second goal on Wednesday by simply muscling Shalrie Joseph off the ball and letting Sene get a hold of it. That's not to say that Bengtson is a straight-up target forward; he's got deceptive speed, and he seems to have a tendency to get free down the flanks and create from there as well. In Honduras he's also known as a devastating goal poacher, so he's kind of the type of forward that can do a little bit of everything.
You won't have to worry about Sene, though. He sprained his knee against Chivas and is out for the weekend. Without him, the Revs lose a little bit of dynamism in the attack, though that generally only happens on days when Saer's on his game. When he's off, he's a gawky, one-dimensional body that can be really easy to defend against. So depending on which Saer Sene was going to show up, the Union may either be really lucky he's hurt, or it might not matter at all.
Q4: For Union fans, the most identifiable player with the Revs for years was Shalrie Joseph. Now that he's gone, who do you see stepping up to be the leader of this team, not only now but in the years to come?
A: That's a tough question. Not a lot of players are stepping up as leaders right now, which is part of the problem. Matt Reis remains the veteran leadership presence, and it seems like Clyde Simms has flirted with the role as well. If this core group stays together, though, the future leaders on this team will be A.J. Soares, Stephen McCarthy, and Chris Tierney. These guys command the respect of their teammates and wear their hearts on their sleeves, though all three can usually contain their tempers when necessary. In terms of play, though, no one is consistently distinguishing themselves over this stretch, so the answer to your question remains to be seen.
Projected Lineup (4-4-2): Reis; Tierney, Barnes, McCarthy, Alston; Nguyen, Simms, Feilhaber, Rowe; Bengtson, Fagundez
Projected Final Score: I think the Revs are gonna break the cycle this time around. I'll predict a 2-1 win.