What The Hell Did I Watch Redux

Twenty days ago, New York City FC came up to Gillette Stadium and ran the Revolution off the pitch (if you want to see the fallout from that, see my previous post). Today, the complete opposite happened. While the result is a frustrating 0 – 0 draw between the two clubs, there was a marked improvement seen by the Revolution.

Forwards, Take What Improvement You Can?

In one game, the Revolution increased their shots on goal by 30%. They put 7 of their 14 shots on frame, converting to a 50%. This marked an improvement over their season average going into this game of 27.33% or 41 out of their 150 shots. While the goals were not there, sometimes we need to take the victories where we can. They also had three goals called back for offsides, putting the totals to 10 for 17. Sean Johnson did make a couple of good saves to keep his shutout, but there were times when you could feel them coming together.

Gustavo Bou seemed to enjoy the freedom of not feeling like the entire offensive creation was on his shoulders. You can tell that he is more comfortable with Lee Nguyen on the field, helping to provide passes over the top and into the channels for him to run onto. While the timing was slightly off, you could already see the forming idea that should lead to goals. He did find the back on the net twice, both from an offside position, but catching the ball in the net for those was reassuring since, in recent times, those shots have been wide.

Teal Bunbury was back where he provides more strength for the Revolution, out wide either left or right, in this case, left. His pace and work rate on the left-hand side, combined with the overlapping runs of Alex Buttner, gave the Revolution a robust attacking threat down that side. He also wen 2/2 for his shots being on goal. While this does end his streak of converting whenever he put a shot on target, he forced two good saves from Johnson, converted for an offside goal. He also had a 24 for 28 passing accuracies with the majority of those being medium passes. It also was good to see that he and Nguyen still have the connection they had back from their playing days together.

Tajon Buchanan seemed to find his confidence after scoring his first professional goal against Philadelphia. It made me very happy that Arena gave him the start, and he rewarded that confidence with a fantastic performance. His pace and power tormented the left side of the New York City defense, allowing to get off four shots, three of which were on target. He also had a goal called back for offsides, and his lone shot off-target was an audacious volley after chipping the ball up to himself. He also chipped in on the defensive side, working back hard for the team and helping Brandon Bye. The potential everyone saw when he was drafted 9th overall may finally be coming to bear.

Substitutes

Christian Penilla came in for Buchanon in the 77th minute to freshen up the legs against a tiring NYCFC backline. While his pace has always been apparent, he has struggled to succeed from the first half of the 2018 season. He is a very one dimensional predictable player at times, and his lack of shots on target 0-1 in this game showed why he had become a substitute. His pace should allow him to attack and create good chances to make a significant impact off the bench, but it was not there against NYCFC.

Adam Buksa had a cameo appearance coming in the 89th minute for Lee Nguyen. His lone shot attempt was blocked. Not much to be said except he put in a shift for the little time on the pitch.

Midfield

The arrivals of Tommy McNamara and Lee Nguyen have transformed the Revolution midfield into a formable attacking threat. This game may have seen a complete midfield performance across the board from the Revolution. Their ability to connect with the forwards while covering their defensive duties allowed for freedom in both the attack and stability in the defensive third. While they did not provide much of a shooting threat, only one total shot and not on goal will come with time and opportunities.

Lee Nguyen was the man of the match for most people, and rightfully so. In his return home to New England, he did not look like a player with a little over a hundred minutes under his belt. In his first start of the season for either club, he filled the void left by Carles Gil admirably. His forward vision allowed for the pressure to come off Gustavo Bou to be the leading creator and let them support each other. With time, the understanding between those two will blossom, but will there be enough of it to get them over the hump.

Tommy McNamara has continued to impress since his debut with the Revolution. His flexibility throughout the midfield has allowed him to rotate and cover where he has been needed. He continued to show his good passing vision and how well he can complement the attack. Playing as a number 8, he moved from box to box, covering most of the turf and trying to help Scott Caldwell as much as possible. His commitment to the team and being a team-first player is apparent since he has one assist and always looks for the pass before the shot.

Scott Caldwell stepped into the void created by the Matt Polster red card against Philadelphia gracefully. He patrolled in-front of the back four with his usual grit and tenacity. Caldwell got stuck in primarily in the defensive third with four successful tackles in 5 attempts, three of which came in the defensive third. His four successful tackles were the most on the team. Caldwell also had the second most completed passes combined with the second-highest competition percentage, which is good to see from the DCM.

Substitutions

Kekuta Manneh is still an enigma to me. It was also a substitution I did not understand but more on that later. This was his second run out as a Revolution player but felt like a slightly more polished version of Christian Penilla at times. His one opportunity came late in the match when he had the chance on a rebound, but instead of corralling and giving himself a second, he lashed out and put it out for a throw-in. While he has limited time, Buchanon’s emergence will limit his time on the pitch, so he needs to maximize his opportunities.

Kelyn Rowe had his typical solid substitute appearance. Coming in for McNamara, he continued to show his evolution into a reliable number 8. He continued in the same vein as McNamara, consistently closing down while trying to get into the attack. Just a solid day at the office for Kelyn.

Defense

The Revolution defense continued to be the bright spot of the Revolution this season. The addition of Alexander Büttner on the left flank has solidified the position while adding attacking flair to the left-back role. Henry Kessler continues to be a rock in the backline, playing well beyond his years. While the Revs have allowed some goals in recent matches, the breakdowns have been far less than we saw the past couple of years.

Alexander Büttner continued to prove he was a worthy investment for the Revolution this offseason. There may have been some who were worried about his acquisition due to his lack of game time in the past year. His crossing and attacking threat have added to the Revolution, while his defensive prowess has helped Kessler and solidified a position that had not felt filled since the ACL injury to Chris Tierney. Also, he is a welcome addition on set pieces offering a viable left-footed threat. Buttner’s class was on display against NYCFC, where most of their more prominent attacks were down the right side of our defense.

Brandon Bye continues to show improvement, completing the most passes against NYCFC. While his accuracy was only 70.3 percent, he provided deadly crosses that need to be attacked. He also had a 100% successful tackle rate, all coming in the defensive third. The more profitable ventures forward for NYCFC did come down his side. His recovery speed to ensure he can track back from any small mistakes made. He and Buchanan combined extremely well both offensively and defensively. I hope this becomes a successful partnership for the Revolution in the years to come.

Andrew Farrell continued to be solid since his move to center back in the middle of last season. While injury’s pressed him into the position, he was drafted as a CB coming out of Louisville. He has developed a very good relationship with Kessler. Also, his movement to center back has made the backline less error-prone than in recent years. Except for the last match against NYCFC, he has not put a foot wrong this season.

Henry Kessler continues to show why he was the first defender taken in the draft. He has also become a rock in-front of Matt Turner, shoring experience beyond his years as a professional. I believe he has learned from the veterans in Delamea and Büttner from the first game in Montreal, he has shown an outstanding ability to read the play. His passing from the back has helped evolve the Revolution. If he does not even get a look in for Rookie of the Year, it is a joke.

Goalkeeper

Not much to say, except Matt Turner being Matt Turner.

Matt Turner continued his excellent season with a four save shutout. If there is one complaint, it is that his distribution was not up to his new standard. But that’s nitpicking.

Manager

Bruce Arena has shown that he has the knowledge to set up a team. some of his substitutions have not made sense this season. I do not get why he brought in Manneh over Buksa when needing a goal. While I understand the frustration with Buksa he still should have been given more time on the pitch. With the crosses that Bye was putting in and Lee Nguyen being able to thread balls through the lines, it would have been nice to give him a shot. Hopefully, Arena also saw Rennick’s movement and goal for Revs II.

IT’S PLAYOFF FOOTBALL TIME!!!!!

Well, here we are! First entry in a while for me and I’m very excited. I will be talking about the upcoming promotion playoffs, focusing mainly on League 2, as their playoffs start on 6/18.

AUTOMATIC PROMITION

First things first: Congratulations to the 3 clubs that earned automatic promotion to League 1:

  1. Swindon Town – Didn’t really have them on my radar at the beginning of the season, but they had a really good campaign (36 played with 21 wins, 6 draws, and 9 losses for 69 points)
  2. Crewe Alexandra – This club was a blast to watch in the FA cup……until they danced with Aston Villa. They had the same amount of points and a better goal differential than Swindon Town, but at 20-9-8, those 3 extra draws is what spots them at #2
  3. Plymouth Argyle- You guys, I got one right!!!!!! One of the first entries I wrote this year, I said to watch out for Plymouth Argyle. They started out strong, but faltered for a stretch and were able pull it back with a strong finish to the campaign. 20-8-9 for 68 points and a +22 goal differential was enough to secure them automatic promotion by 4 points.

PROMOTION PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS

I really love this next part. Promotion and relegation have become an obsession of mine in recent years. The playoff finals last year for all 3 EFL leagues were fun to watch and you could see the passion on the players faces.

4) Cheltenham Town v 7) Northamptom Town

Even with the shortened season, these two clubs got to play each other twice. Cheltenham won 2-1 when they hosted and the two sides played to a 1-1 draw when Northampton hosted. Expect this to be a tightly contested semi-final. Cheltenham, in my opinion, are the better club and it will go in their favor after the 2 legs are played out. They will end up 4-2 on aggregate and advance to the promotion playoff final.

5) Exeter City v 6) Colchester United

I’m pulling for Colchester United here. Why? They pulled off a David v Goliath style win during the FA cup when they offed Tottenham. Not much separates the two sides, as they played to two draws this year (2-2 at Colchester and 0-0 at Exeter). I’ll be looking for a 3-2 aggregate in Colchester’s favor. The first game will go 2-1 and a 1-1 tie for the second leg.

League 2 promotion playoff final prediction – Cheltenham v Colchester

Colchester is the under dog in their semi-final and would be the under dog here as well. If they play to their full potential, they have just as much of a chance to win at Wembley as Cheltenham does. The Robins (Cheltenham) DID best Colchester away 2-0 this year and played to a 1-1 draw at home. Expect Colchester to come out hungry for revenge and get ready for a great final. 2-1 to Colchester with the winner coming after the 80th minute and earning them that much coveted promotion spot to League 1.

COVID-19 Update

It has taken me time to wrap my head around blogging about soccer and sports during this period of our lives. We are learning about the strength and character of ourselves outside the sports world. We are learning how sports can distract from life, and in our current chaotic environment, they are missed.

I intend to go back and rewatch the first two games for the Revolution this MLS season and do more through breakdowns than initially planned. Give more accurate analyses for each player if possible, not just the big moments and general thoughts. Not only will it give me some sports and writing for distractions but also perhaps give some of you some distractions from the world as well.

Finally, with everyone doing these kits out challenge, I will be doing a breakdown of my extensive jersey collection. I know some people may find this annoying, but there are some fun pieces and others that have some excellent stories attached to them. Hopefully, this will bring some people joy and entertainment during these troubling times.

I hope everyone is staying healthy and as safe as possible.

League 1 weekend fun

I’ll start off by directing your attention to the 2 league 1 games that are postponed this weekend due to international call ups. First one is Sunderland v Fleetwood and the other is Burton v Bolton. Pardon the optimism here, but when the break is over, I feel like Bolton is on the cusp of a big points run that will take them in to the positive and possibly out of relegation.

First matchup we’ll be looking at today is Bristol Rovers (18pts) vs MK Dons (12 pts). The Dons are a team that has me baffled this year. They seem to look great some weeks and then other stretches (4 game losing skid) of just looking sub-par. Bristol, sitting 1 point outside the promotion playoffs and 5 outside of auto-promotion spot #2, has a ton to gain from a win this weekend. Prediction: Bristol plays their hearts out and gets past the Dons with a score of 3-1.

Oxford United v Doncaster

Not much separates these 2. In fact, nothing does as far as points are concerned. Both squads enter this weekend with 16 points and look to boost their standing on the table. Oxford look to be the stronger side at the moment, as they have not lost at all in their last 5 and Doncaster has lost twice. Based on form alone, im going to go 1-0 in favor of Oxford United this weekend.

Rochdale v Accrington Stanley

Another matchup of 2 teams on top of each other in the standings, but further down the table. Rochdale have lost 4 of their last 5 and Stanley, though only losing once in their last 5, also only won 1 of those 5. Look for Rochdale to play a decent game in their effort to get off the slide they are on. Their extra effort pays off this weekend with the result 2-1 Rochdale over Stanley.

Blackpool v Rotherham

4th place Blackpool v 13th place Rotherham. Sounds like it should be an easy put away for Blackpool, right? WRONG! Both teams are 2-2-1 (w-d-l) in their last 5. My gut tells me that Blackpool rests a little easy this weekend and end up paying for it. 1-0 in favor of Rotherham.

Portsmouth v Gillingham

A win for Gillingham this week can get them as high up on the table as 9th (they would end up with 16 points if they win). Portsmouth, currently 16th, can only get as high as 13th. One thing Portsmouth does have going for them, they only have 1 loss in their last 5 and Gillingham has 2 (back to back). They also happen to have 2 games in hand. I think another “upset” happens here. Portsmouth comes away 2-1 with a late winner.

Southend United v AFC Wimbledon

The only reason these 2 teams are not at the very bottom of the table is because Bolton is sitting below them both with -8 points. My prediction is that will change by the end of the season. Southend has 4 points on the season to Wimbledons 6. Both also have 1 win in the last 5 games. A struggle for both teams and unfortunately nobody gets the upper hand. 1-1 draw

Peterborough v Lincoln City

Only 2 points separate these sides and I think a fierce contest takes place. Peterborough stands to get as high as 3rd with a win and clearly this would increase their hopes and chances for a promotion bid to the Championship. Lincoln City is a newly promoted side that is doing decently well in their first year in League 1, but they will more than likely end up staying here next season. All that aside, they put up a hell of a fight and come out with a 2-2 draw and keep Peterborough juuuust outside the last promotion playoff spot.

Coventry v Tranmere

I’m going to start this one by saying that I love the Rovers. I really do. Watching their promotion up from League 2 last season was great because this team just doesn’t give up. This year appears to be different as they are only 3 points out of the relegation zone. Coventry, already in a playoff spot can end up tied on points for the 2nd auto-promotion spot, so expect them to come out with “something to prove”. They end up having an easy time of Tranmere but still give up a cheap goal somewhere along the 90. 3-1 Coventry takes this in their sleep.

International Break

Are you in the dumps because there is no EPL action this weekend due to the international break? Well then, I have a suggestion to cure your blues. No it’s not to watch international games because unless it’s your own country or a major tournament or Iceland, they are all kinda eh. My suggestion women’s premier league.

This Sunday at 10am Chelsea play Arsenal in a match of two of the title favorites. The match will be a measuring stick for both clubs, as they will want to get a leg up in the title race. FYI, you can watch it for free, there’s an app for that. FA Player (swear I’m not sponsored but hey I’d take a sponsorship for some sort of weekly thing)

Arsenal currently sit joint top of the table with Manchester City ahead of Chelsea by 2 points. Taking 3 wins from 3 in the league as well as starting their campaign with 6 wins in 6 in all competition they will be full of confidence. They have allowed just one goal in all matches this year, giving them a very impressive defensive record. What makes this more impressive is that through the start of the year, they have missing some key pieces. Vivianne Miedama has started rounding into form again after a long summer at the Women’s Worlds Cup for the Netherlands. Last year in this fixture she carved Chelsea apart so she will be looking to continue her success against the Blues.

Emma Hayes brings Chelsea against her former club (she was an assistant there from 2006-2008). She has been extremely well respected at the club and even with both fan bases, there were some calls for her to be given a shot with the men’s team this season. She brings a team that has been hit by the injury hug to start this campaign. A big loss for them in this match is having Millie Bright our. Bright has been a key cog in the defense over the past couple of season. Missing her against what can be a potent Arsenal attack will be rough. The brighter side for Chelsea is Fran Kirby seems to be healthy again and can slot into an attack that can match the best in Europe. Cuthbert, England, Reiten, and Kirby together can give defenses nightmares.

I think this will be entertaining as hell so again, why not give the women’s top flight in England a chance. It’s an app download and registration away (again not sponsored). I know, only giving you about an hour to prep for this, but the game will be over before the Sunday slate of international matches (and American football games). Give it a shot, and maybe you’ll stick around for more.

Week 6: There is a Friday Game?…..Crap…..

I have two words about last week: Teemu Pukki

Southampton v Bournemouth

Southampton are coming off he back of three good results with 2 victories and a draw in their last three games. They have shown their experience and should be able to continue this good vein of form. There is talent in there 18 and it is finally starting to show. Bournemouth got an excellent result with their victory over Everton. Everything finally seems to be coming together for them, and if they can get their attacking trio going they should be looking at some good results in the coming weeks. Going for a 1-1 draw.

Leicester City v Toytenham

Leicester will still be disappointed that they couldn’t get at least a point at United last time out. Brandon Rogers has this team firing in a way not seen since their stunning run to the title. Vardy, Maddison, and company will be looking for blood, especially at home. I still cannot wrap my mind around Spurs. Last week in the EPL they came out and dominated Palace for the first 45 before just controlling the second half. Midweek in Greece they surrendered a 2-0 lead. You never know what you are going to get with them. Leicester2-1 winners.

Burnley v Norwich City

Burnley have come back and clawed their way to draws the past two weeks. Sean Dyche will be looking for his team to come out on the front foot at home against a newly promoted side. Ashley Barnes will be hoping to continue his hot start after bagging 4 in the opening 5 games, and they will need him this week. Norwich pulled of the upset of the season with their win over Manchester City last week, Teemu Pukki. The legend that is Teemu Pukki keeps growing ever week, with another goal and assist. Norwich know who they are and should continue to grow in confidence throughout the season. Norwich 3-1, Teemu Pukki.

Everton v Sheffield United

Everton will be chomping at the bit to show that the start to the season wasn’t a fluke after the disappointing showing against Bournemouth. Gylfi Sigurdsson needs to find his form. The playmaker hasn’t started as strongly as the Toon faithful would have hoped. The rest of the attack is rounding into form and should make them a challenger for a comprehensive victory. Sheffield have had a mixed bag of results so far, coming off the 1-0 loss to Southampton they always seem to stay in most of the matches they have played. The tactics with their overlapping center backs still is giving teams fits so they will be hoping this trend continues. Everton 2-1.

Manchester City v Watford

Manchester City have a point to prove this week. They will be slightly embarrassed by last weeks result at Norwich, Teemu Pukki. The defense will need to show their resolve and after his midweek performance Fernandinho maybe back to bolster the line. Pro will not want a repeat performance. Watford showed great resolve in their comeback against Arsenal and like last week I would just be looking at how they perform on the field as a unit and not the final score. I almost feel sorry, since I believe they will be put to the sword by a rabid City side. 4-0 to the Citizens.

Newcastle United v Brighton and Hove Albion

Newcastle United fell victim to Bobby Firmino last week, outside of being able to shut him down they showed very well in the 3-1 loss. If the con continue to replicate that form then I will probably be wrong in predicting them to drop. Joelinton has looked up for the premiership, which should bring them success. Brighton were the hard luck drawers last week. They continue to show better than I expected them and with proven EPL experience they should continue to challenge against the teams around them. Thinking an entertaining 2-2 draw.

Crystal Palace v Wolverhampton

Palace got run over last week, plain and simple. They will be looking to respond this week. Zach’s still has yet to look like the 18/19 version of himself which is worrying. He wants a move, he will need to start proving he can hack it again. Wolverhampton pilled teo back against Chelsea but still at times look lost at the back. Coming off the loss midweek to Braga means they still have yet to win a match this season. They will be hoping not to be legged but I have doubts. Winless continues 2-0 Palace.

West Ham v Manchester United

West Ham we’re the first team to keep Teemu Pukki of the score sheet this season, and they continued a good run of form with the draw against Villa. While they would have expected more, they should still be happy with the point. United come in carrying injuries and with James now also a doubt this maybe a tough ask. Their depth is starting to be tested and we will see how well they recover from the midweek trip to Astana. Thinking a 1-1 draw.

Arsenal v Aston Villa

Arsenal will be lookin got out the 2-2 draw against Watford in the rear view mirror. The midweek win at Eintrak Frankfurt shows their quality, but they need to replicate it this weekend. Emery will be looking to see the same resolve at home, and the attacking talent should have chances. Aston Villa has gotten more consistent as the season has progressed. I think this is a match where they will need to find a defense strength that they showed through the majority of the Spurs game. Still thinking 3-0 Gunners.

Chelsea v Liverpool

Chelsea have finally started to find their feet under Frank Lampard. The 5-2 win over Wolves saw a much more flowing attack and for the most part a more stabilized defense. The injury to Mason Mount is something that is a newer development but the one depth of the Chelsea squad is the midfield. The worry is still injuries to the back line, and with the attacking trio Liverpool have this will be an interesting matchup. Liverpool’s is a duck mid week in Napoli, they will be wanting to regain form and continue their dominance to start the season. They had trouble on the road last year at the “big 6” and it will be interesting to see how they come after Chelsea. Chelsea have them all they could handle in Istanbul and this may just be my heart but 3-2 Chelsea.

One Final Note: TEEMU PUKKI!

Predictions for the weekend : League 2 and you

Crawley Town V Mansfield

This should be an entertaining fixture as a win by Mansfield (12th) will move them up in the table to as high as 6th, should the game go their way. Crawley town is in a similar situation as they currently hold the 11th place spot on the table. With similar records on the year, this prediction is purely gut instinct. Crawley Town 2-1 over Mansfield.

Salford City v Cheltenham

Another match that could tell us a lot about the teams. Salford City is a newly promoted team to league 2 and Cheltenham is holding the 6th spot on the table. Salford got a win to start the year, but are 0-5-0 (5 pts) in their last 5. Cheltenham currently has 11 points and look to climb as high as 4th with 3 points. All this being said, I think Salford City break their current trend and come out on top 1-0.

Northampton v Newport County

This could be a beating in the making. 2nd place Newport County (13 points in last 5 games) should, in my opinion, dispatch Northampton (6 points last 5 games) “fairly easily”. Don’t really have anything to base this prediction on, but Newport County takes it 3-0.

Walsall v Bradford City

Walsall has had a hard time finding the back of the net so far this season, scoring just 3 goals in their 7 games played so far this season. Bradford City got a win last game after losing their previous 2, so maybe they are back on the right track and will start to progress up the table. Spots 6-11 on the table all have 11 points, so I anticipate a fairly decent shuffling in the standings this week. Predicting a 2-0 Bradford City win.

Swindon Town v Macclesfield Town

Separated by just 3 points on the table, look for this to be a hotly contested battle. Macclesfield have drawn their last 2, whereas Swindon have won their last 2. With them being so close on points, I’m predicting a 1-1 draw with a heartbreaker late goal for Swindon Town sometime after the 80th minute.

Scunthorpe v Morecambe

Putting it lightly, Scunthorpe is not having a very good season. The fact of the matter is, their defense is letting them down in a big way. With 5 goals on the season, you would think they might, just might, have more than 1 point, yes 1, for the year. Pointless in their last 4, they take on a team not much higher in the standings. Morecambe has 1 win in their last 5, but have also managed to scrape together a pair of draws so they can at least get some points on the board. Something tells me that Scunthorpe will make this a real interesting game, but will ultimately fail to convert anything in a game thay goes to a 0-0 draw.

Crewe Alexandra v Cambridge United

7 points separate these two. Crewe is looking to stay on their winning ways, only losing once in their last 5, but that was to Aston Villa in the FA Cup. Cambridge has lost 3 in a row and their offense is looking less than stellar. Crewe came up short on a promotion bid last year, but I think that will be a different story this year, provided they keep their form up. Combined with the fact that the game is at Gresty Road, Crewe wins 3-1.

Exeter v Leyton Orient

Top o the table vs 17th place. Leyton Orient started off well this season and seems to have hit a plateau as of late. They will need to be in top form if they hope to take down top ranked Exeter. This does not mean that Exeter should over look the newly promoted Orient. Prediction: 3-2 Exeter in a thriller of a match

Forest Green v Colchester

Here’s a fun fact, Colchester has 6 goals on the season and only 2 different goal scorers (one with 4 and one with 2). They are going to need to spread the ball around some more or Forest Greens defense will have Norris and Nouble on lockdown and Colchester will struggle as a unit. Prediction: 2-0 Forest Green

Oldham v Grimsby

A game of 2 teams that are currently struggling. Oldham is having a rough go of it this season and Grimsby, though in the top half of the table, have lost their last 2 contests. Getting back on the right track will be key for them here and I think they come out and hold Oldham scoreless. Prediction: 1-0 Grimsby

Port Vale v Plymouth Argyle

Quite possibly my favorite team name in all of football (Plymouth Argyle) v my favorite mystery kit that I received from Away Days. Plymouth started season in good form but have started a downward trend as of late. Scoring early and having an air tight defense will be their keys to the game. Port Vale have seen their fortunes turn for the positive, but are ultimately still behind Plymouth on the table and today’s game may show us why they are where they are. Prediction: Plymouth Argyle gets back on the winning track 1-0

Stevenage v Carlisle

Another match up of 2 teams towards the very bottom of the table. Stevenage has yet to win this season and Carlisle is holding on to 7 points. With teams all up and down the table trending in different directions, one of these teams needs to dig deep to pull out a win and, though still very early, salvage their season. I think today, that will be Stevenage. Prediction: 1-0 for Stevenage to get their first win on the season

Coming Home To Put Out the Fire

Momentum from New Jersey

The Revolution are coming back bringing a point from their tightly-contested game against the Red Bulls. The draw adds to the Revs unbeaten streak on the road and has now broken the previous record of six games unbeaten. I’d almost like to repeat that phrase three more times in this sentence. The last time this team was unbeaten on the road in six games was 2008! They have definitely stepped up to be worthy of our praises this year.

The main man between the posts is definitely Matt Turner right now. He had a career-high nine saves in the NYRB game. Beyond that, he’ll be buzzing after he just signed a new undisclosed multi-year contract with New England. If I had to take a guess in the amount, yearly, it’s probably within the $150,000-$200,000 range. Brad Knighton who is his back-up is currently making $111,000 a year. I’m happy to see him happy to commit to the Revs long term.

The panther has struck again, Bou with the game tying goal against the Red Bulls. Since he joined July 10th, he now has 4 goals in 6 games and doesn’t show any signs of stopping. His soccer IQ seems to be off the charts, consistently able to get himself out of double-teams and always toying the offside line to pounce(sorry) onto the softly chipped passes over the defense. I’m excited to see what a full year with the Revs will produce.

Chicago Gets Some Luck…

The MLS Disciplinary Committee has rescinded Chicago’s Nicolas Gaitan’s red card suspension after he made a questionable tackle on the Philadelphia Union’s Jamiro Monteiro nearing half time. This is a major gain back of an attacking midfielder who has tallied up 4 goals and 7 assists this year since he joined the team. Hopefully, we can draw the ire of him again, and get him off his game.

Chicago Look To Bump Revs From Playoff Spot

After a win at home against the Philadelphia Union, the Fire will be looking to double up on those points. The Revolution are now sitting in sixth place with 35 points. Chicago is in tenth place, only two points away from the sixth spot. The game is a must win for the Revs to stay in the playoff race.

Nemanja Nikolić is a dangerous striker force waiting to come out this year. Between the past two years, he has amounted 66 regular season matches, with 39 goals total. This year, it seems he has pulled up a little lame, with 19 matches and only six goals thus far. Two of those goals came in last week’s match against the Union. He may have found his confidence again, so absolutely one to watch.

Schweinsteiger is always looking to boost his side to a win, definitely providing a few key passes this year to his teammates. We will definitely see some of his passing prowess on display and his control on the flow of the game, playing out of the back. It will be tough to get him off his game. I think over-powering the middle with two central defensive midfielders can help against this.

Fortress Gillette

The Revs are confident, but wary. They pulled out a 1-1 draw against the Red Bulls last week. It was not without weakness. Our defense is still very shaky and has lost it’s vigor since losing Toni Delemea to the injury in the LAFC game. Toni is still unavailable for Saturday’s game. The shining bright from the defense was definitely Turner’s nine save game.

Edgar Castillo seemed to be very lost in the NYRB game. He was the direct reason for the Red Bulls goal. He cleared a soft ball for an easy pick to Marc Rzatkowski who controlled it and dropped it down for a beautiful strike into the back of the net. I hope at this point, after two rough games from Castillo, that Arena may think to start Jones over him, or make an earlier substitution for him. Andrew Farrell returns back to what most likely will be the center back position and I think the defense will look that much tigher for it.

Offensively, the Revs has been a force, scoring 4 goals in the past 2 games. Gustavo Bou and Carles Gil still continuing great form together with their give and go’s. I hope to see a more attacking formation this game. Arena seems to be giving the 5 at the back an experimentation while Delemea isn’t healthy. I get the idea, but the team still hasn’t figured out how defend in that formation. I would like to see a 3-4-1-2, allowing more center defensive mids, and getting away from Caldwell being the only one in the middle lane. I think Caldwell doesn’t start this game either, we should see Zahibo or Caicedo back in the middle and a stronger attacking presence on the wings.

The Revs will be back home at Gillette, which should give them a huge boost after an amazing presence at Red Bull Stadium from the fans. It looks to be a decent presence in Foxboro, coming off of the last home game containing 25,000+ fans. I don’t think we’ll see near as many this game. Nevertheless, I hope to hear the entire crowd chanting “Rev-o-lution” this game!

Today in the lower leagues: League One Rovers worthy of your attention?

Another match day has come and gone in the lower leagues of the EFL. Let’s discuss the absolutely drubbing that Tranmere Rovers put on the Bolton Wanderers. Everybody that is paying attention to the EFL is well aware of the current disaster over at Bolton, but I don’t feel that should take away from Tranmere’s 5-0 win earlier today. The Rovers had 4 different goal scorers and held their opponents to 0 shots on goal and 8 shots total for their first win in League 1 this season (newly promoted out of league 2).

Tranmere is a new following for me, as I played with them frequently in FIFA 19, so I will be watching them closely this season. After struggling in their season opener against Rochdale, where they played with 10 men and lost 3-2, they then got blanked 2-0 against Portsmouth last weekend. Will this be the beginning of brighter things ahead for them, or was this a “garbage win” against a team that is struggling mightily to stay alive and can’t seem to get out of their own way? Either way, keep your eyes on the Merseyside squad because they are a fun bunch to watch and quite often put on a great show.

Today’s scorers:

  • Ollie Banks 38′ (1)
  • Morgan Ferrier 40′, 46′ (2)
  • Connor Jennings 63′ (2)
  • Stefan Payne 75′ (1)

On Bolton: Yes, they essentially put out a U-23 squad today and it did show on the pitch. That being said, I do hope the Wanderers find their way soon because football is a sport we can/should all enjoy and discuss. Seeing any team in a struggle to stay above water saddens me and I want them to be able to get their ship righted and get back to being the competitive we are used to watching.