This past Thursday, the New England Revolution lost in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup to the New York Red Bulls at Jordan Field in Cambridge, MA. The 87th minute of this match may have been the lowest moment that this Foxboro club has seen under the reign of Jay Heaps. That is the minute that Bradley Wright-Phillips scored the game winner for the Red Bulls to knock the Revs out of the U.S. Open Cup. I know the U.S. Open Cup isn’t a huge deal in American soccer, but it was all that Revolution fans had to cling to this season. The club is just 5-5-9 in the MLS thus far this season, winless on the road, and in 10th place of the East. If the club were to finish in this place, it would be the worst finish in club history.
How did they get to this point? Just last year the club finished 2nd in the U.S. Open Cup and just three years ago they finished in 2nd in the MLS. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. A lot of fans have been quick to blame Coach Heaps, but that is just irrational. Jay took over the club after they suffered a 9th place finished, and two years later they started a streak of making the playoffs for three consecutive years. So let’s not blame Jay here.
The problem appears to be deeper than that. It appears as if the MLS has past the Revolution. In a league in which teams have been investing in youth, development, and internationals, the Revolution continue to invest in players beyond their prime. The addition of Antonia Delamea was a step in the right direction, acquiring a European defenender in his prime. However, there have been so many other puzzling moves. Kai Kamara may have 4 goals on the season, but he has looked out of place regularly at 32 years of age, Je-Vaughn Watson is good for a yellow card a night, and 34-year old Daigo Kobayashi has received regular playing time for some reason.
Then there’s the curious case of Juan Agudelo. Despite the fact that the 24-year old is tied for the most goals on the club this year at 7, he has had many ups and downs. As a player who showed so much promise at a young age, he has left many in the stands, the front office, and the media wanting more. For a player with such incredible skill, it appears as if he comes up short regularly.
There has been a couple of bright spots on the club, though. Kelyn Rowe just finished his first stint with the USMNT and has been proving himself as a true leader on the club at the age of 25, what should be the beginning of his prime.
The other bright spot has been none other than Diego Fagundez, the 22-year old who has been with the club for what seems like forever. The product of their youth academy has 4 goals and 4 assists this year, however the numbers do not tell the tale for him. It seems like every match Diego is doing something incredible. Every time the ball touches his feet it seems like a good thing happens for the Revs. As it stands today, I believe it is time to give him the keys to the car. I wouldn’t say Lee Nguyen is necessarily losing his touch, but if the Revolution want to grow with the rest of the league, they should slide Diego into the middle and let him run the show.
At this point the season it is very clear that there must be change at Gillette. The question is: Is that a change to be made in the front office or on the pitch?
As always feel free to comment, share, tweet me @TheRucasJohnson or us @OTMSportsBOS