Remember what we said on Thursday about New England: Pe progress would be more important than the result. Though fans may rightly worry about a team that’s gone 270 minutes without scoring this season, the underlying parts showed improvement. In today’s 0-0 draw against visiting Vancouver, both the Revolution’s attack and defense showed signs of becoming their 2013 selves.
Going forward, the benefits of having Kelyn Rowe, Lee Nguyen, and Saer Sene on the field at the same time were obvious. The trio’s ability to link up at the edge of the attacking third meant New England were a threat all day, with Sene’s ability to come in from the right and augment play helping offset the influence of Vancouver’s Nigel Reo-Coker and Matías Laba. When we (read: I) use clichés like “able to consistently create chance,” this is when we’re talking about. After being starved of the ball last week in Philadelphia, New England held the better (if not necessarily more) possession on Saturday.
Unfortunately, that didn’t produce a goal, even if Teal Bunbury had two opportunities to open the scoring in the first half. But on both a long header from Chris Tierney and a beautiful cross from Rowe, Bunbury failed to show the aggression New England needs. On Tierney’s ball headed past the defense, Bunbury hesitated as David Ousted come off his line, allowing the Vancouver No. 1 to suffocate the chance. Later, Bunbury let Rowe’s cross get caught in his feet, failing to test Ousted on another good ball. Two chances. No shots.
At the other end of the field, a defense led but the newly restored José Gonçalves went largely untested, but avoiding the mistakes the group had made in Houston and Philadelphia, the back four still showed progress. There was no overrunning of crosses to gift chances for Will Bruin. There was so misreading of passes to let Leonardo Fernandes set up goals for Sebastien Le Toux. The defense may not have had to do much, but they didn’t give much, either.
Aside from the lack of a goal, it was exactly the type of performance New England needed, but from a team still trying to assess if Bunbury can replace Juan Agudelo, perhaps this was the result we should have predicted. It was too much to ask the Revolution to go from zero to hero in one week. Baby steps are enough this early in the season.
With a strong performance on Saturday, the Revolution were able to identify their one, big problem area. That’s progress.