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Revolution have early season challenges

Posted by Julian Cardillo  March 16, 2014 10:18 AM

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(Italo Alexander Photography)

1. Writing is on the wall that Jose Goncalves is unhappy

The Revolution opted to leave Jose Goncalves, the club captain and reigning Defender of the Year, in Foxboro rather than take him to Philadelphia for yesterday's clash. He wasn't injured, according to the club's most recent injury report. Odds are that Goncalves is still unhappy over his contract situation.

If this is true, Goncalves becomes more valuable off the field than on. Is this who the Revolution want to trust with being a club captain? Former club captain Shalrie Joseph not only had his share of disagreements with the front office, but also had opportunities elsewhere and yet put New England first time and time again. Is that quality so rare?

The writing seems to be on the wall for Goncalves to leave New England in the near future. Given that General Manager Mike Burns said at Media Day three weeks ago that there was one very specific part of the field the club is looking to sign a player for, it's very possible the Revolution are already shopping for Goncalves' replacement.

2. Midfield needs to create more

Games one and two of the 2014 season had too many misplaced passes and not enough possession. It doesn't help, of course, that Lee Nguyen and Kelyn Rowe have yet to get on the field together because of injuries. But the team's transition player, Scott Caldwell, has gotten overrun so far in 2014. Last weekend, a Caldwell giveaway produced Houston's second goal in a 4-0 loss. Caldwell had a better showing on Saturday against Philadelphia, but struggled to move the ball forward and connect with his fellow midfield players. Caldwell made 27 passes while Maurice Edu, who played the same position for Philadelphia, made 44. Now consider that Philadelphia owned possession by 20 percent and out-shot the Revolution 13-5.

In a revamped Eastern Conference, the Revolution can't afford to be "second best" as Jay Heaps said yesterday at halftime. More chances need to be generated from a midfield that possesses and does creative things with the ball.

3. Home opener next weekend is key

The Revolution have a stiff challenge in the Vancouver Whitecaps for their home opener at Gillette Stadium next weekend. The Whitecaps dismantled the Red Bulls in their season opener, and look like a capable road team this year, too (eyes should be on their clash at Chivas USA this evening).

Gillette Stadium might provide the bump the Revolution need to find their first goal and win of the season. A loss would be devastating. It's still early in the season, but the club's performance through three games will be telling of what its strengths and weaknesses are. The Revolution will use their first two results as motivation to play better and earn their first points of the season in front of their inaugural 2014 crowd. But a third straight loss would mean an early uphill battle for higher placement in the conference, plus the other issues the club is figuring out on and off the field.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About Corner Kicks: Julian Cardillo offers insight and analysis about the New England Revolution as well as European and international soccer.

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