Skip to content

MLS Playoff Focus: Notes on New England ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Sporting KC

Nov 1, 2013, 10:33 PM EDT

Juan Agudelo-Revs 2

Ahead of Saturdays’ first-leg of this conference semifinal series, here are the must-knows about the New England Revolution: (Saturday’s match kicks off at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN):

  •  Jay Heaps is youngest MLS playoff coach

He isn’t by much, but New England Revolution coach Jay Heaps is the league’s youngest playoff coach. Heaps is 37, same age as Mike Petke, but about six months younger than the Red Bulls’ boss.

Heaps, in his second year in charge at Gillette Stadium, is the second youngest coach in the league, period, behind only D.C. United’s Ben Olsen. Olsen and United did not advance into the post-season.

Speaking of Heaps, he just oversaw the league’s second-best improvement of 2013. From last year to this year the Revs improved by 16 points to 51 points. That was second best only to the Portland Timbers’ 23-point increase.

  • No goals for the Revs this year versus KC

New England won’t find these in the “confidence inspiring” department:

First, Heaps’ team scored zero goals in two matches this year against Sporting Kansas City. The teams drew, 0-0, at Gillette back in March – although it was an odd duck of a match, played in a ferocious wind.  The only good to say about a 3-0 loss to KC in August is this: two of the goals came from Kei Kamara, who is no longer with the team.

Well, maybe this, too: the Revs’ didn’t have Agudelo for either of those matches. He’ll be in the Saturday’s starting lineup.

That August match extended the Revs’ run of struggles against SKC; The Revolution hasn’t beaten Sporting since July of 2011, 0-3-3 in that time.

  • Heaps’ big choice in midfield

Heaps has a big decision to make at holding midfielder, where Revolution Academy product Scott Caldwell, just 22, has done so well this year. (Considering the way big lineup choices worked out in the playoffs this week for Colorado’s Oscar Pareja and Montreal’s Marco Schallibaum, both of whom paid the price for what sure looked like some serious over-thinking, we know these can be monumental choices, in fact.)

Andy Dorman has been strong in starting the last two matches as the screener in the Revs’ 4-1-4-1 look. He doesn’t have Caldwell’s passing skill, so the distribution into Lee Nguyen and other Revs’ attackers tends not to be as smooth. Plus, the way Kanas City can press and force turnovers in bad spots, Dorman could be the shakier choice.

On the other hand, Dorman is far more physical and looks like a much better matchup for SKC, one of the league’s most physical teams. (Probably the most physical in the playoffs, in fact.)

In fact, it was Dorman who got a straight red for a brutal tackle on Kei Kamara as the teams met in the Midwest back in August. And don’t think the SKC fans have forgotten about that one.

  • Matt Reis in charge

Matt Reis, the longtime fixture in goal around Gillette Stadium, had some difficulties in 2012. His struggles continued into 2013, as Reis even lost his starting spot for a stretch to the younger Bobby Shuttleworth. (Some of that was about Reis doing his part to create family stability after his father-in-law was wounded during the Boston Marathon bombings.)

But the man certainly rebounded. Re-focused and apparently re-energized, the 38-year-old keeper, now in his 16th MLS season, has been on top of things lately – and then some. In fact, Reis just carved out a little place in history: by finishing with a 7-0-4 record, he became the first MLS goalkeeper to play at least 10 games and finish unbeaten in a season.

Reis isn’t just providing saves and swell stats, either. Given the relative youth of the team, having one of the old hands on MLS (no pun intended … hands) adds some useful balance.

  • About the underrated Kelyn Rowe

If second-year midfielder Kelyn Rowe doesn’t make your All-Underrated Team in MLS, he must surely be close.

Rowe is versatile enough to play centrally or along the wing (and did split his 26 starts this year, although 22 were in the middle.) Along with a team-high eight assists, Rowe contributed seven goals. Those are stats that most MLS midfielders would take, never mind the two game-winners, and never mind that he’s a young American rather than a high-paid DP.

Left back Chris Tierney is another underrated man, probably the team’s top crosser.

And if you believe some, sturdy center back Jose Goncalves falls on the underrated side, although the Revs’ first-year man from Portugal is likely to get some mentions for Defender of the Year. So, it probably depends on your definition of underrated … and on how much you “rate” the Revs’ smooth center back in the first place.

(MORE: Previewing Sporting KC at New England)

Latest Posts
  1. VIDEO: Should we be worried about Manchester United after huge overhaul?

    Sep 3, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Manchester United v Newcastle United - Premier League Getty Images

    Red Devils have ripped apart their title-winning team from 2013. Will things settle down anytime soon?

  2. How will USMNT line up in friendly vs. Peru?

    Sep 3, 2015, 1:10 PM EDT

    Cameron-Austria

    Three options for the starting XI at RFK Stadium on Friday.

  3. Bayern Munich to set up refugee “training camp” as humanitarian crisis deepens

    Sep 3, 2015, 11:20 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwe2ymq2mgvlzdu1owi2mjvkzmiwogy1ztfinwfjy2q5 AP

    German champs taking a stand to help the growing number of asylum seekers arriving in Munich.

  4. VIDEO: Cicerone scores another screamer in college soccer

    Sep 3, 2015, 9:36 AM EDT

    Source: @BullsMensSoccer Source: @BullsMensSoccer

    After his game-winner from halfway last season, Cicerone is at it again.

  5. USMNT move up one spot in latest FIFA World rankings

    Sep 3, 2015, 8:40 AM EDT

    Michael Bradley, USMNT Michael Bradley, USMNT

    Klinsmann’s side move up, but remain out of the top 20.

  6. Premier League Deadline Day podcast

    Sep 2, 2015, 9:57 PM EDT

    DeGea Getty Images

    The NBC Deadline Day show is here in podcast form.

  7. Martial transfer fee from Manchester United trickles down to French lower tier team

    Sep 2, 2015, 9:32 PM EDT

    Martial Getty Images

    A fraction of the transfer fee has made its way to the lower division team in France that helped mold Anthony Martial into the $55 million player he is today.

  8. Men In Blazers Podcast: Deadline Day recap and Chelsea loses again

    Sep 2, 2015, 8:18 PM EDT

    meninblazers

    Rog and Davo break down Chelsea’s loss to Crystal Palace and Swansea’s stylish win over Manchester United. Plus, a recap of transfer deadline day.

  9. Klinsmann confirms Brad Guzan will start Confederations Cup playoff in goal

    Sep 2, 2015, 6:56 PM EDT

    Guzan Getty Images

    Tim Howard looked good for Everton last weekend, but the U.S. coach says it’s too close to the Mexico game to make a change.

  10. Ashley Cole is quickly being phased out at Roma

    Sep 2, 2015, 5:42 PM EDT

    Cole Getty Images

    The former Chelsea defender is no longer listed on the team’s website and was left out of both the club’s domestic and European squads.

  11. Dortmund’s Kevin Grosskreutz will move to Galatasaray immediately despite transfer mishap

    Sep 2, 2015, 4:29 PM EDT

    Grosskreutz Getty Images

    The paperwork was late, and FIFA rejected the deal, but the two sides still wish for it to be completed.

  12. Zlatan Ibrahimovic confirms he turned down AC Milan this summer

    Sep 2, 2015, 3:40 PM EDT

    Zlatan Getty Images

    The San Siro wanted Zlatan back, but he is happy in France.

  13. Ex-Manchester United striker Berbatov spurned Aston Villa for Greek club

    Sep 2, 2015, 2:46 PM EDT

    Berbatov Getty Images

    Villa had a very quiet Deadline Day, but they tried to make a splash.

  14. Mark Noble wins red card appeal; West Ham still charged for reaction

    Sep 2, 2015, 2:07 PM EDT

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 29: Mark Noble of West Ham United at Chadwell Heath on June 29, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by James Griffiths/West Ham United via Getty Images) Getty Images

    After the match, Noble said it was a tackle that happens “10 times a game” and that he felt it didn’t even deserve a yellow card.

  15. U.S. U-23 versus England U-21 preview: Young Yanks face Premier League cast at Deepdale

    Sep 2, 2015, 1:15 PM EDT

    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 14:  Cameron Carter-Vickers of Tottenham Hotspur U21 holds off Manu Garcia of Manchester City U21 during the Barclays U21 Premier League match between Manchester City U21 and Tottenham Hotspur U21 at The Academy Stadium on August 14, 2015 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images) Getty Images

    After finishing second in its group thanks to a 3-1 win over the Netherlands, Herzog’s Yanks toppled England’s U-20 team this summer. Now: the U-21s.

  16. Spain’s Del Bosque says De Gea’s Euro spot in trouble without playing time; Speaks on Chelsea’s Costa

    Sep 2, 2015, 12:31 PM EDT

    Manchester United's goalkeeper David De Gea of Spain arrives at Soccer City training facility for a Spanish soccer team concentration meeting in Las Rozas, near Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. The day after De Gea's multi-million euro move to the Spanish capital was called off, Madrid pointed the finger at United, issuing a lengthy 10-point statement claiming officials at Old Trafford held the deal up with their delays, but United hit back at their old rivals by publishing a counter-statement on Tuesday evening. (AP Photo) AP

    “He needs to be professional and move on from this episode,” Del Bosque said of the Manchester United keeper.

  17. Arsenal’s Ozil says he’d play in Olympics; Joachim Low doubts it very much

    Sep 2, 2015, 11:29 AM EDT

    FBL-WC-2014-MATCH45-USA-GER Getty Images

    Unified Germany hasn’t medaled since 1964 in Tokyo (Bronze). East Germany won gold in 1976.

Featured video

PST Extra: Analyzing transfer deadline day