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Revs and Cincy Show Us What Playoff Soccer Looks Like In April

ROBC Vol. 1 No. 7, May 1, 2023

Source: NE revolution Instagram

Matt: It was a busy 8 days for the Revs, who faced a sequence of increasingly difficult teams while trying to find consistency in the face of injury and suspension. There were moments of triumph, frustration, and outright devastation as the Revs managed to maintain their spot at the top of the standings.

Josh: A lot of time on the field with teams that were not willing to yield to the Red Hot Revs, who lead the East by Goal Differential. And it was an especially satisfying week as our Revs weren’t always able to use all the tricks in their toolkit, but showed they have a deep roster and are willing to put forth the work.

Matt: The Revs did a good job of keeping Jones’s absence from the game day roster out of the news (not helping my fantasy team), but stayed aggressive despite several rehabbing injuries, starting Goateng – I mean Boateng – and putting Vrioni at the 9. At the 8’ there was a near goal with a classic centering pass sequence, but it was just a taste of what was to come - a brace from Vrioni at the 25’ and 31’. We also watched the Revs still struggle with set pieces - SKC scored off of a set piece in the 50’ that felt like a replay from the NYCFC game. So the score was 2-1 at the 51’, and then SKC got desperate, moving to defensive techniques like “fall on the other player” and “just pretend you got clumsy for a second.” One of them earned SKC defenseman Fontàs a 61’ red card and that was pretty much it.

Josh: New England controlled the pitch, and even though the sad, sad SKC squad tried from all angles, there was no question - especially once they were playing 10v11.

Matt: The stats bore out the differences. The Revs and Sporting were fairly even on passing accuracy and possession, but the Revs led in Shots (16-9), Shots on Goal (9-3), Chances Created (3-1), and Corners (3-1). SKC led in less desirable categories, like Fouls (12-4), Offside (2-1), Yellow Cards (2-1), and Red Cards (1-0). Both teams had fairly balanced attacks, the difference being Vrioni’s finish and follow up at the goal, and New England’s GK Djordje Petroviç, who made a critical save right at the 91’.

Josh: We just talked about Vrioni finding his footing and he looked great against the SKC side, even in Acid Mint! It was also confidence building for the fans, and probably also for the team, to watch the Revs move the ball down the field and work with, but not completely rely on Carles Gil to make the plays happen. Boateng, Vrioni, and Bajraktarević made for a strong front three​.

Matt: Three days later nearby USL team Hartford Athletic visited Gillette for a US Open Cup matchup. The Revs were in their deep blue Liberty Kits, but Hartford brought their A Kit Game with their teal and white ombre Hummel Hartford jerseys. Arena sent out a basically Revs II team plus Earl Edwards Jr. in the net and Borrero at left wing. The Revs got on the board first with Rennicks’s header off a Rivera corner kick, and then the crowd enjoyed some general soccer mayhem. Hartford tied it in the 52’ after Hartford’s Prince Saydee beat out and outran both Makoun and Sweat to move the ball from the midline all the way to the box, then sending it across to Antoine Hoppenot, who tapped it in. Arena subbed in Bye, Boateng, Romney, and Gil at the 70’, who took back the lead 6 minutes later. Whew. So this coming Tuesday the Pittsburgh Riverhounds will be in Gillette. Starting XI TBD.

Josh: These USL squads are not playing around with the MLS, including the Hartford jersey design team coming on strong in 2023. Atlanta and San Jose didn’t read the room and, unless it was their plan, are missing out on the May Madness that is coming up. Pittsburgh is in the top half of the East of USLC, so with an MLS opponent like Miami at the other end of the week, do you maybe start two or three first team players to stay in the Cup, and then let them fill in as subs on Saturday, if needed? I wouldn’t be opposed.

Matt: I guess the approach of give the second team a chance to see what they can do, but be ready to sub in Gil & crew, worked. I’ll take it. I’m also sure the FO is busy figuring out Borrero’s replacement, but they have to use the same roster slot and not exceed Borrero’s season salary.

Josh: Well done, Coach! Thankfully, as we got to see unfold this week, there are options that are already accounted for. For Pittsburgh, as a season ticket holder, are the US Open Cup games included, if you wanted to pop over to Gillette on a school night?

Matt: Good question - US Open Cup Games are discounted for STHs.

Josh: Nice!

Matt: And then in the following game against Cincinnati, history was made: this was the first time this early in the season that two teams with 20 points in the standings faced each other, giving us a possible preview of the playoffs. The scene: 30,000 fans, 45 degrees, some light misting in the first half, and then pouring rain through the second half. Both teams were eager to prove themselves and it showed in their intensity. Unfortunately, the 22’ saw a major injury to Dylan Borrero, who went down with what people are currently guessing was an ACL injury. Whatever it is, he’s out for the season.

Josh: That’s terrible. I know we were all hoping it was just an awkward landing and a strain that would require extra care, but Coach Arena confirmed that he will be rehabbing for the rest of this exciting campaign. Thankfully, we got to see some great play from Rennicks and Buck, showing how the young homegrowns are fully part of this season’s success. And more history was coming thanks to our hero in the long sleeves!

Matt: Bajraktarević subbed in for Borrero, and then we were off again. After a 27’ handball outside the box proved to result in a PK, Petroviç stepped up (or, rather, dove left) and saved it. Understatement of the night: the crowd went wild. Unfortunately, 4 minutes later Cincinnati sent one past the Revs GK on a corner kick - yet another goal conceded on a set piece. Thankfully, in the 3rd minute of the first half extra time Bajraktarević spotted Bye on the right and sent him the ball, who then centered it to Boateng to kick it in to tie. Boateng had a couple of chances at a brace, but it was not to be. Arena also subbed in Wood and Bou in the 69’ to goose the offense, but the score stayed knotted at 1-1 the rest of the way.

Josh: Boateng is back on the board! And Petroviç… whoo… I hope your young goalkeeper is watching that PK coverage in slow motion over and over - it was a clinic! It’s too bad that Revs couldn’t add some points separation between themselves and Cincinnati, but there’s lots of season left, and the orange & blue have a rising DC United team to navigate this Saturday.

Matt: Matt’s trends - 1. Petroviç saves goals - over and over, 2. The Revs are conceding goals on set pieces more than on direct offense, and 3. Why are there so many injured Revs right now?

Josh: Josh’s Trends & Responses: 1 - Petroviç is making his defensive line look good by becoming a giant force in the back 2 - Thankfully, there are increasing options and ball movement in the front half keep the opponents guessing, and goals going in, 3 - Coach Bruce could stand to use more substitutions (only 2 against FCC, excepting the injury?), especially for his defenders who currently look like the weak link in the chain. Rumor has it, Tommy Mac might be available for some minutes soon!

Matt: This will be another busy week, with the Revs away at Toronto, home vs. Pittsburgh, then away in Miami. Toronto will be a good test in the sense that they tend to play games close to their opponents, going 1-1-4 in their last 6 matches - so the Revs have to push past that and claim a 2-goal lead. Then Pittsburgh at home (\_(oo)_/), followed by the Revs going south to face a team that has gone 1-6 in their last seven games, losing by only one goal 5 of the 6 times. Miami could offer the same challenge: can the Revs claim a 2-goal lead? Hopefully these matches will help the team rebuild and re-energize. At least they will be somewhere warm next weekend.

Josh: It does feel like a good week where they will absolutely need to work, but maybe can challenge themselves at like a 90% effort - it should be enough to hold down The Fort. But they can also stand to recover, use players 12-18, manage the energy over three games and a lot of travel. I think Revs fans can feel confident that we should see them stay atop the Eastern Conference for another week, and hopefully some great game play to show that the Musket Men mean business.

Matt: Go Revs! Bring the Fight!

Revs Slyde-ing Scale of 1-10 for Games 9 & 10

Final Score on the Revs Slyde-ing Scale: 7.6/10 - It’s the set piece concessions.

Twitter and Instagram: @RevsCoasts

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