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Revs notes

A few heres and theres coming out of last night’s 1-0 loss to the Chicago Fire…

  • Matt Reis started the game, making his 2010 MLS debut. Reis played the first half of the Revs’ exhibition against Cruzeiro back on June 13, but last night marked his return to league play. Reis missed the season’s first 12 matches after offseason rotator cuff and knee surgeries. Reis stopped 4 of 5 shots on goal but took the loss in the match.
  • Revs’ third round pick and recent signing Jason Griffiths made his MLS debut after coming on in the 81st minute. Griffiths did participate in the Revs’ exhibition against Portugal’s Benfica earlier this season when he was on trial with the club, but last night marked the English midfielder’s first league match. Griffiths gave some chippy defensive play in the match’s final ten minutes. Said Griffiths: “I was kind of nervous coming in losing 1-0 and I was expecting an attacking player to go on but it was great to get on. It was a disappointing score but the boys tried hard and we can push on for next week and get a good result.”
  • With Griffith replacing striker Zack Schilawski, Shalrie Joseph was pushed up top. Coach Steve Nicol explained: “When you’re getting into the last 10 minutes of the game and their sitting back and we’re getting desperate, we’re basically hoping Shalrie can get on the end of something.”

The Revolution are now 1-7-2 after a promising 2-1-0 start to the season.

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After watching the United States’ elimination from the World Cup at the hands of Ghana on Saturday, New England soccer fans shifted some of their attention back to the Revolution.

The last time they’d seen the Revs in MLS play, though, there was little to get excited about. Before the league went on hiatus to grant the Yanks center stage, Steve Nicol‘s club hit rock bottom after a 3-0 loss in Seattle wherein they were outshot 19-2.

In returning to action at Gillette Stadium, the Revs again fell – this time 1-0 to the Chicago Fire at Gillette Stadium – but did not look clueless in the process, at least.

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The Revs enter the second half trailing Chicago 1-0 and haven’t looked awful in the process. Second half thoughts as they occur…

  • Kenny Mansally replaces Zak Boggs in the midfield to start the second half. Mansally really needs to start showing what he’s got. We know he can have his flashes, but consistent quality has been lacking all season.
  • I told myself I wouldn’t write this tonight, but there’s nothing else to write and it’s just too glaring to avoid saying anyway: It is tough on the eyes to shift from catching 2+ World Cup games a day to MLS play.
  • Great stuff from Nyassi in the 61st minute. He couldn’t put the shot on target, but he was able to show some creativity in the attack leading to a shot, which shows some improvement on his usually too-straight ahead mindset.
  • Kheli Dube‘s been brought in for Tierney, further bolstering the attack.
  • Maybe a touch or two too much from Perovic after a Shalrie Joseph set-up just outside the top of the box gave him a pretty open look. After a couple dribbles, his bid was sent flying over the net.
  • I think people would like Nyassi a lot more if he wasn’t so quick. He can go from box to box with the ball in no time but it always just ends up seeming like such a waste of time. He could be so dangerous but he needs to develop a better last touch, both when passing and shooting.
  • Revs’ third round pick Jason Griffiths, signed just this week, comes in, marking his MLS debut. He’s on for Schilawski. Joseph takes a striker spot with Griffiths in the midfield.
  • A really bizarre, inexplicable offsides call? Ah, there’s that World Cup quality.
  • Dube puts a shot on net in the 84th minute. The striker’s still looking for his first goal of the season.
  • Pat Phelan‘s played really well tonight as a defensive midfielder. He was getting burned consistently before the break, but seems to have some fresh legs after taking two weeks off.
  • That’s full time. The Revs fall 1-0 to Chicago. They’re 3-8-2 now on the year.

    Back tomorrow with the write-up.

Live first half updates from the New England Revolution’s tilt with the Chicago Fire at Gillette Stadium…

  • Matt Reis collapses on the ball in the early 5th minute. Good for Reis to get his legs underneath him. It’s also just good to see him out there.
  • Gillette’s looking real empty tonight. I fear the attendance number.
  • A bit of a pinball game here. Lots of back and forth but little in the way of opportunity for either side. There’s not a whole lot of character to this match 23 minutes in.
  • A great delivery on a corner by Marko Perovic gave the Revs their best yet opportunity in the 24th when Zack Schilawski crashed the goal and got a good hard head on the ball, sending it just wide to the left.
  • The Fire answer in the 27th with their own best chance. Baggio Husidic got a header opportunity of his own and sent it looping just up over the goal. It’s unlikely that if he kept it down a few more inches Reis would have been unable to make the save.
  • Marco Pappa‘s long shot gives Chicago a 1-0 lead. That’s Pappa’s sixth goal in a breakout season. He was able to scoot his way around Shalrie Joseph and sent the blast past Reis, who was able to get a hand on it.
  • Schilawski again sent a good header just off net, this time on a Chris Tierney delivery in the 37th minute. His rookie season is absolutely the saving grace of the 2010 Revs’ season but the finish is missing tonight.

That’s the half. The Revs aren’t being outplayed but do find themselves trailing 1-0. I’ll be back for the second half.

Lineups

And here’s what the Revs will actually go with.

Reis

Tierney – Gibbs – Osei – Alston – Boggs – Joseph – Phelan – Nyassi – Perovic -Schilawski

It’s worth having Boggs in there as he’s one of few bright spots this season. I also am interested in seeing Perovic as a withdrawn striker. I guess we’ll see how Phelan does. He was looking pretty gassed before the break.

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I’m thinking Chris Tierney in a center-mid spot. No real changes otherwise (except for Matt Reis’s inclusion, of course).

Reis

Sinovic – Gibbs – Osei – Alston

Perovic – Tierney – Joseph – Nyassi

Dube – Schilawski

We’ll know for sure in about half an hour.

From my piece for CSNNE.com today (well, yesterday now):

Whenever the World Cup comes about, the talk in America is of whether or not a strong showing will spell take-off for the sport in the US. In 2010 the Yanks fulfilled expectations by escaping their group, and they probably brought on a few more fans by advancing with such dramatic flair. But let’s be honest. In order to really get the country soccer mad right now, they’d need to go deep into the tournament, at least making it to the quarterfinals.

That’s fine. I largely agree. The Revs aren’t going to suddenly start chasing the Red Sox’ sellout record and most sports fans are going to shift their attention from the World Cup to baseball and NFL training camps across the country. Again, I agree. That’s probably what’s going to happen in the short term.

But something to take note of: In 2006, most of America’s support in Germany was of the corporate variety, having secured tickets and flights through work, there primarily for the spectacle. In a substantially more difficult spot to travel to, the United States’ supporters this time around were real. They were costumed, they were loud, they were enthusiastic, they were knowledgeable, and they were proud. They were soccer fans. And perhaps most important, they were young.

I contend that while a deep run may have boosted soccer in the country in the short term, the sport  looks like it really is upcoming stateside – and yes, I know this has been said for years and years. It’s not going to be overnight. But the Yanks have young, enthusiastic support that more than ever in American soccer history really cares, not just about the team but about the game. Maybe it’s a generation coming of age having only known a global village and the Internet, wanting to be a part of it by participating in international soccer. Maybe the reason is much simpler, like that the team has become a regular Cup qualifier. But for whatever reason, the support is there. The team itself was good enough only to escape its group and capture the country’s attention on a Saturday afternoon. But these fans are many, and they’re for real. And as an American soccer fan, that’s solid enough consolation for me.

I really think we’re starting to see soccer take hold in America. It can’t just be “US DO GOOD NOW WE LIKE.” It’s been a long cultivation, and now there’s a young generation that was brought up on the game and to understand that America is just one of many countries, and that soccer is the best place to see sport on the global stage. And now that generation is coming of age, has some money, and is throwing its support. I doubt we’ll ever see soccer take over the NFL on American grounds…actually, I’m almost sure of it, though the NFL’s forthcoming labor stoppage won’t hurt such a cause. But the game has a fan base that’s wild about it, and it’s young, it’s big, it’s growing, it’s loud, and perhaps most importantly, it’s likable. And that’s more important than the difference between making the Round of 16 and the quarterfinals in 2010, in my opinion at least.