Friday, April 4, 2008

From the Stands: Lets Be Frank Revs Lose

Following on the heels of the Revs opening match 3-0 win over reigning champs the Houston Dynamo, there was all the reason to expect a good performance. With mostly the same lineup available from the opening match at least after the Ralston was taken out by Stuart Holden, there was every reason to believe the Revs could get something out of the match in Chicago last night. With Khano Smith returning from national team duty, Steve Nicol decided to attempt my suggestion and move Mauricio Castro into the center therefore keeping his favored 3-5-2 formation. With the back line and front line staying much the same, the Revs were showing their willingness to attack without Twellman and Ralston.

The Revs managed to have the nightmare start you dread on the road, after just 3 minutes the Revs defense became totally discombobulated and left Justin Mapp wide open on the wing so he was able to easily center it to Chad Barrett for a simple tap in. Just a few moments after that Jeff Larentowicz slid in to try and knock a loose ball onto a teammate. After connecting the the ball, Brandon Prideaux arrived late and hit Larentowicz's still extended foot. Baldemero Toledo showed no hesitation, sprinting towards Larentowicz with his hand reaching for his back pocket and showing red. Despite Tommy Smyth and Glen Davis attempting to justify the red, I find it hard to believe that the tackle deserved anything more than a yellow. However, this was just the start of the night for Toledo taking the spotlight away from the actual match. In the 37th minute, Justin Mapp had gotten behind Albright and Nyassi again and was dribbling into the penalty box as Nyassi recovered and caught up from behind. During Nyassi's pursuit he may have gotten the slightest of touches on Mapp but Mapp tumbled to the ground and Toledo again had no hesitation stealing the spotlight pointing to the penalty spot. Blanco was able to step up and bury the penalty to the upper right corner to make it 3-0.

This was following Tomasz Frankowski scoring his first of the match 15 minutes earlier. This one was a bit tougher to blame on Toledo with the Revs back line deserving the ire of the fans. With Chris Albright and Michael Parkhurst both having a touch on the ball inside the penalty spot before Frankowski was able to get a toe on it and roll it across the line for the 2-0 lead. He then followed up the Blanco PK 2 minutes later to put the final dagger in the hearts of the Revs, blasting a Chad Barrett centering feed into the top of the net. That concluded all the scoring on the day, but there were plenty of opportunities missed by the Revolution.

With the abundance of free kicks and corner kicks the Revs earned even a man down, it showed that they were still pushing forward trying to equalize early in the match despite bringing on Gary Flood for Khano Smith after the Larentowicz ejection. From one of the corners the ball fell to Kenny Mansally at the edge of the box but he blasted well over. For the second time in 2 matches Adam Cristman was stoned on a clear breakaway by the keeper showing once again why the Revs will be much better in 6-8 weeks when that is Twellman on those one v one matchups.

The effort was there all night with the 10 players all over the pitch, and switching formations (4-4-1 with the addition of Hilgenbrinck after the score got out of hand) throughout the match. So the players showed a bit of pride and determination in the second half but they could not over come the Toledo led Fire. Did they play well enough to win? I don't think so. The first goal was surely in no way caused by Toledo, but after that and then Toledo stepping into the prime time, this game was over before it started.

Match Ratings:
Reis (5) - Really thought his long balls into the wind were not so great, kept getting too much air and letting the ball get blown backwards gifting away possession. Hard to fault him on any of the goals except maybe Frankowski's first, but did make the clutch save off the shot that was deflected by Parkhurst.
Albright (4) - Could not handle Mapp on the left wing all match and when he had the chance in the box after the free kick just gifted the Fire a goal kick, did look a bit better in the 4 man back line, but that might have been the Fire slowing down a bit.
Parkhurst (4) - Might have been his worst match in a long time, was taking bad routes on the defender on Frankowski's goal got beat on the through ball then didn't clear it when he had the chance.
Heaps (5) - Did alright playing on the wrong side again, tried a few clever chips to the front men and defended when needed.
Joseph (6) - Was all over the midfield after Larentowicz went out, didn't have much help with Flood behind him, so was really usually found defended by 2 or 3 Fire players.
Larentowicz (N/A) - The red card was bogus, and then he got to take a shower, not much you could say, other than keep your studs down.
Smith (N/A) - Didn't even get a chance tonight being subbed out for super Gary Flood moments after Larentowicz was dismissed.
Nyassi (5) - Showed flashes offensive brilliance just as I began pleading to cut inside on Segares who was way overplaying his right foot run to the corner flag, he started using that. If he keeps that up the wing will open up again. Hard to fault him on the PK for just being faster than Mapp, but did lose Mapp originally.
Castro (4) - Didn't really make his mark on the wing again, and they only had possession a few moments with him in the middle. His corners were getting tossed around by the wind, but still were put in dangerous positions.
Cristman (4) - Blew the break away and then didn't really do much to keep the ball either. Eventually replaced by Dube as a late sub.
Mansally (4) - Showed he isn't all finesse and pace, was very physical with the defenders, should have done better with the ball of the corner, and was subbed out as the game got out of hand to bring in a fourth defender.

Subs:
Flood (3) - Was invisible all game (not what you need down a man) the sole highlight was him tracking back off a cleared corner to slow down Blanco.
Hilgenbrinck (5) - Stepped in well in his first match, saved another goal and looked capable linking up with Castro.
Dube (N/A) - Gave Cristman a breather once this was all over.

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