1.) Losing 4-0 to Houston isn't how you envisioned opening the season I'm sure. What went wrong?
Is everything an answer? That was by far one of the worst showings I've seen in four seasons covering this team. The attack was disjointed, the midfield nonexistent, and most troubling, the defense appeared confused and disinterested. No one on the pitch played a particularly good game, except perhaps Diego Fagundez, who at times seemed to be the only attacker with any initiative and desire to score. The Revs can't expect to win any matches if they put on that kind of ghastly performance.
I'm most bothered by the play of Jose Goncalves. It's no secret that he's been embroiled in something of a contract dispute for the last month or two. Despite his comments in the media and his insistence on not speaking to reporters for the last few weeks, the prevailing feeling was that he was trying not to let the controversy affect the locker room or his performance. That feeling has to have changed. Goncalves looked listless on the pitch, and his abysmal display was directly responsible for the first goal of the match. You don't go from MLS Defender of the Year to a player that makes mistakes like that unless there's something seriously wrong.
2.) Most other teams in the East made large-dollar signings this off-season. New England didn't, but made what I think is a very smart signing in Teal Bunbury. Will that be enough to propel your team into the playoffs?
That's a good question. There's no question that the Revs made the playoffs in 2013 because of the addition of Juan Agudelo. Not just his goals, but his effect on opposing defenses as well. The Revs were a more dangerous and effective squad when he was in the lineup, and the results are evidence of that. More than anything else this offseason, replacing him was going to be the difference between another playoff berth and the bottom of the table.
Is Bunbury that answer? We'd like to think so, but we have to be realistic about it. Teal has never quite been the prospect that Agudelo was, and moreover his injury history is a little more extensive than Agudelo's. However, it's not a dissimilar situation; a young striker coming off some disappointment, looking for a chance to prove his worth in a contract year. The Revs could have lightning in a bottle again here, and they have him for the entire season this time. Personally, I don't think he gives you everything that Agudelo did, but if he can be a little healthier over the full season and contribute upper single-digit goals and a few assists, he might get the Revs there. Granted, he didn't look great against Houston, but no one did.
3.) In 2011 there were some significant protests both in New England and in other venues around the US and Canada associated with the security situation in the Fort. How have things been there?
For the most part, that's water under the bridge. Apart from one or two minor incidents in the last season or two, the Fort has maintained a pretty decent relationship with stadium security and the front office. The event itself fostered an effort on both sides for more communication and cooperation, and the Supporters' Group leadership routinely meets with front office personnel on match days to discuss any concerns and coordinate efforts to ensure that everyone has a good time without breaking the rules.
4.) Union manager John Hackworth has felt the pressure to win this season - is Jay Heaps under the same kind of scrutiny?
Probably not the same pressure, no. By making the playoffs last year, Jay Heaps definitely bought himself a lot of breathing room in Foxboro. Barring a major collapse and a truly poor performance this season, Heaps' job is probably secure. That said, he'll be expected to have the team right in it all the way to the last day of the season, at the very least, so it's not as though he has an infinite leash.
5.) What's your predicted lineup and score line for the upcoming match?
Without an up-to-date injury report, I can't speculate too much on what's going on with the lineups. I'm gonna guess Heaps is going to give his day-one squad one more chance, except for Kevin Alston, who might not be healthy enough to play:
Starting XI (4-1-4-1):
GK - Bobby Shuttleworth
LB - Chris Tierney
CB - Jose Goncalves
CB - AJ Soares
RB - O'Brian Woodbine
CDM - Scott Caldwell
LW - Diego Fagundez
CM - Kelyn Rowe
CM - Daigo Kobayashi
RW - Patrick Mullins
FW - Teal Bunbury.
PPL Park is a terrible place for the Revs for some reason. I'll be optimistic and guess a 1-1 draw.