The Revolution Was Televised

For the New England Revolution fan that, like me, was not fortunate enough to make the stadium today, there was a question as to whether or not we’d tonight’s game on TV.  You see, some green/white basketball team apparently had a game at the same time.   Luckily, some odd arrangements were made by all involved (Thank you!) and even on my not-so-glamorous Charter Communications cable, I was able to watch.

So not only was the (New England) Revolution televised, but it was a bit of a Revolution on the field.   Against what?  Against the pessimism that most Revs fans have had about this season – and potentially against the status quo on the field.

The pessimism was palpable a few weeks ago.

  • Steve Ralston is gone?
  • Paul Mariner no longer prowls the sidelines?
  • Jay Heaps is an announcer, not a defender?
  • Jeff Larentowicz is not part of red-and-dread anymore?
  • Matt Reis is hurt?
  • Taylor Twellman is still perpetually dizzy?

Hopes were at rock-bottom.  

Then however, a few things happened.  The Revs visited the Los Angeles Galaxy  and “only” lost 1-0 – and that without Shalrie Joseph in the lineup. 

Then the Revs went to D.C. United and Kenny Mansally wowed everyone watching by pulling a 2-0 victory out of an otherwise stale match, where the Revs were outplayed for large stretches.  

Thoughts changed to “maybe we can scrape through this year.”

Then there was tonight.  A 4-1 victory against division rivals Toronto F.C.   Yes, Toronto helped the Revs a bit, with at least two of the goals coming from rather silly defensive errors.  But a 4-1 victory is a 4-1 victory.   People’s hopes are buoyed . . . and not just because of the score. 

Why else?

  • Shalrie is back bossing the midfield.
  • Kevin Alston remains terrific.
  • Players who were unremarkable last year appear to have more confidence this year.  Sainey Nyassi – great game.  Chris Tierney – is it the move to midfield?  He appears way more confident and dangerous than last year.
  • Two rookies – Seth Sinovic and Zack Schilawski – started and looked like veterans.  Zack gets a hat-trick on his first home game.  Seriously?  Sinovic deals with DeRosario. (Steve Nicol remains a king of the MLS draft.)
  • Turns out Preston Burpo knows how to play goal and Cory Gibbs knows how to play defense.  (Duh.)

I could go on, but you get the idea.

One point should not go missed though, that gives me greater hope than even most of those just mentioned.   Tonight we got to see our first glimpse of Marko Perovic.   Having come on late in the game against a down-trodden Toronto F.C. is probably not the best way to judge a new player.   But, from what I saw, Perovic is for real, and will quite possibly remake our midfield.  He showed touch that is uncommon in MLS, taking more than one ball out of the air and directly to the feet of a teammate.  (They almost seemed surprised.)  He appears to have top-notch ball skills, and at 6’ 1” seems to have a physique that won’t get pushed around in MLS.   I noticed a number of occasions where he made a quick pass, moved into space and hoped to have the ball played back quickly – which generally it was not.   

Give his teammates time with him (he arrived yesterday) and I am extremely interested to see what he can do.   Steve Ralston will never be forgotten, but with a skillful, sizable and productive (yes, I’m way ahead of the evidence here) 26-year-old in midfield – the Revs may be able to move on.

Yes, the Revolution game was televised.  

But judging by the youth movement and a very promising new arrival, maybe there was more than one Revolution going on tonight.

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Selling Soccer and Stalled Italian Journeys

Not so fast Ricardo . . .

It seems I may have jumped the gun on Ricardo Clark’s impending transfer to Livorno.   No Short Corners is reporting that he has the offer but it isn’t a done deal.   If you haven’t my read my “Forza America” yet, please do so with this liberal dditions of “ifs” . . .

Supporter’s Club (Brought To You By Soccer Soap Box)

OK, I’m not about to be sponsoring any supporter’s clubs . . . but the idea promoted here that companies could be bypassing sports sponsorships to instead directly align to/sponsor major fan groups is very interesting.    Those groups are influential and cut out the middle-men when wanting to directly reach your end customers.   There are significant risks of course, since such fan groups will undoubtedly be interested in the funding and perks, but will have little tolerance of the rules that might be tied to them.  Of course, no sport seems to have more vocal and organized fan groups than soccer.  The article refers to one of the primary US National Team supporter groups the “American Outlaws” and their ever growing presence on the US Soccer scene.

Selling (MLS) Stuff

Sponsoring fan groups is all well and good . . . but I doubt the official soccer merchandising will ever slow.   This New York Times blog (thanks to the very interesting FootieBusiness) talks about merchandising efforts by the league, including the mini-takeover of the “World’s Largest Toy Store” in NYC.   A few notes of interest . . . the top three teams in terms of sponsorship Seattle Sounders, Los Angeles Galaxy, Toronto F.C. – Seattle and Toronto off of their amazing local fan support, and L.A. clearly because of Beckham.    The Red Bulls are 6th in merchandising, but have generally been terrible on the field . . . a statement to the potential that remains out of reach in that market.

While MLS makes it clear that they have trouble accurately tracking player-specific merchandise, it comes as no surprise that David Beckham, Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Landon Donovan, Freddie Ljungberg, and Juan Pablo Angel would lead the way.   That most of them are “Designated Players” is not a coincidence . . . and makes the ideas recently posted over at the Daily Soccer Fix to increase the rule’s use all the more critical.