With only two wins, a number of goalless draws, and a measly four goals scored from their first eight matches, what's going on in New England?
They're not scoring, that's what's going on. Heading into the season, things were looking up. They'd had a successful preseason, the team looked to be gelling, several important players had been given an entire offseason to build chemistry with the rest of the squad, and we were looking at one of the deepest midfields in MLS. None of that has really panned out. Jerry Bengtson has been an unmitigated disaster, and with Saer Sene still regaining fitness, Jerry has been what the Revs have been pinning their offensive hopes on. He's not delivering. At all. In fact, in the last few games, it's begun to look as though the team is playing around him instead of with him, like they've already written him off as a non-factor. That's not good, especially when that "non-factor" is your DP striker.
That said, it's not like he's being deployed in a manner that best suits his talents. The recent move to a 4-1-4-1 may be the best thing for this midfield, but Bengtson is not a lone striker. He feeds off of service and rebounds. He does not do well in hold-up play; while his passing is average, he has no ability to retain possession when challenged. Overall, this team is still struggling to find rhythm and the right system to be successful. It's the sort of thing you'd have hoped would have been worked out before the season started.
Some of the more important Revs players have been out recently with injury. Are any of the wounded likely to be available for Wednesday's match?
Having just received the injury report, I can confidently tell you that Kevin Alston (obviously given his placement on the DL and his recent diagnosis), Donnie Smith, and A.J. Soares will not be available. The questionable crew includes Andrew Farrell, Stephen McCarthy, and Clyde Simms. You'll note the absence of Saer Sene on that report; he wasn't on the report last week, either, but still didn't get the start as it appears the coaching staff is taking a measured and careful approach to his recovery. I'm as interested as you are to see if he gets the start this week.
Given the lack of able bodies in the back, it wouldn't surprise me if McCarthy or Farrell were forced into starting, even if not 100%. Heaps has also shown willingness to put midfielders (re: Ryan Guy) into the fullback positions if necessary, so that might happen, too.
How do the Revs look ahead of Wednesday, anyway? Are they ready for a busy week? Will anybody be rested ahead of an important intra-conference match?
The injuries in defense have left the Revs in a less-than-ideal position for the loaded week, but I think they're going to be gunning for a full six points from both matches. It wouldn't be out of the realm to see a couple guys get reduced minutes on Wednesday ahead of Saturday, but I think it really depends on the game situation. Besides, the midfield depth to deal with fixture congestion exists in this squad, so you'll be getting the best the Revs have to offer when you watch RSL come to Foxboro on Wednesday. The New York game is certainly important - and revenge is something the Revs will want pretty badly after the 4-1 beating they took a few weeks ago - but I don't think they're too proud of the recent home record against Salt Lake, either. They're likely to go all out.
Prediction and XI?
I'd guess the XI will look something like this (4-1-4-1, R to L): Bobby Shuttleworth; Darrius Barnes, Stephen McCarthy, Jose Goncalves, Chris Tierney; Kalifa Cisse; Ryan Guy, Lee Nguyen, Kelyn Rowe, Diego Fagundez; Jerry Bengtson
That's similar to what we've been seeing the last few games. Andrew Farrell could maybe make the start and McCarthy could be rested, which would shift Barnes into the middle, or if McCarthy also starts, you'd see Barnes on the bench. If neither starts, plug Guy in at right-back (and watch me cringe), with someone like Juan Toja going to the left side of midfield. Saer Sene is a dark horse to start, and if he does, I'm not sure the Revs stick with the 4-1-4-1. They might want to put Sene and Bengtson together up top and see what happens. It's anybody's guess who it goes in that case.
I predict a 1-0 win for the Revs. RSL's defense is stingy; the Revs' is stingier. It's a crucial home stand and I want to believe the team will dig deep and get the win, so I'm going to go ahead and say it'll happen.