In hindsight, the Revolution's 4-3 loss at Vancouver last Saturday is bittersweet for Juan Agudelo. The dynamic forward tallied his fifth goal of the season in the match and felt like his team was in perfect sync for first time this season, but he's unhappy that they were unable to preserve the win.
"It felt like we were winning and we were playing well, but what was most important was we basically believed in our mentality to keep on playing the same way," explained Agudelo at training on Wednesday. "We felt like we were going to win the game, in the first twenty minutes.
Agudelo opened up the scoring in the tenth minute and Kelyn Rowe doubled the Revolution's lead in the 20th. The Revolution lost control and the momentum shifted in the 23rd minute when Andrew Farrell was red carded for taking down Vancouver's Kenny Miller in the penalty area.
Camilo Sanvezzo converted the ensuing spot kick and the Whitecaps aggressively poured on three more unanswered goals against a Revolution defense which entered the game riding a 395-minute shutout streak. Dimitry Imbongo pulled the Revolution within one with a goal in the 84th minute, but the Whitecaps successfully defended the remainder of New England's late rally.
"The red card changed the game," added Agudelo plainly.
Agudelo, 20, may be the most brutally honest player on the Revolution's roster. He's well-spoken for such a young competitor and shows a level of maturity on and off the field that's high even by professional standards.
He has excellent tactical awareness, too. Two weeks ago, when the Revolution were blanked at home, 0-0, by DC United, the league's worst overall team, Agudelo didn't hide his frustration. He stated that it would have been more effective if his teammates would have used a more direct approach.
Against Vancouver, Agudelo got just what he asked for. Chris Tierney served him a long, direct pass from close to sixty yards away that he collected just outside the penalty area before finishing into the lower left corner of the net.
"I was encouraging my teammates to play that ball over the top to stretch the defense," explained Agudelo. "Even if the defender heads it back, we were winning second balls."
His goal, accompanied by the fluidity that the Revolution were playing with, made the beginning of the Vancouver game the best soccer Agudelo has experienced since donning a Revolution uniform. And that's saying something, since the team's offense has flipped the proverbial switch "on" since he arrived on May 7.
In the first ten games of the year that the Revolution were without Agudelo, the team scored three goals. In the five league games Agudelo has played in, the Revolution have scored twelve times.
"I wanted to keep on playing," said Agudelo with a smile. "The first twenty minutes of the Vancouver game was probably the most fun I've had playing the whole season. I can't wait to be out there again."
"Everything was working, it was flowing. It felt like I was understanding, I knew where the player who had the ball was going. We were sharing the ball, it wasn't individual."
Agudelo's name was not on the US' preliminary roster for this summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup. But US Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann may add Agudelo, who has two goals in 17 appearances with the national team, if his recent run of form with the Revolution continues.
Agudelo said he saw some of the US' 1-0 victory over Honduras in World Cup qualification last night.
"I only caught the ending," explained Agudelo, who was participating in a charity event in Newtown, Conn. with the Revolution last night. "From what I saw it was a confident US team."
Absent from the Honduras team was Revolution striker Jerry Bengston, who returned to New England after a falling out with the national team coach, Luis Fernando Suarez. Bengston allegedly returned to New England due to his frustration of not starting in Honduras' games. He was unavailable for comment at practice on Wednesday.
"I told him 'I don't know where the Honduras forward was, maybe he should have been there," Agudelo joked.
Neither the Revolution organization, nor Agudelo seem concerned about Bengston's current situation with Honduras. But Bengston has struggled this year, scoring only once and seeing his starting role go to the likes of Agudelo, Diego Fagundez, and Saer Sene.
"I didn't talk to him too much about it," finished Agudelo. "He's always been a great guy here, so I don't know what the situation is. But I was shocked."
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