Yes, the Bruins have lost. We're all trying to get over it and figure out what to do. We reached out to bloggers whose seasons are still going and see what's up with their team and how to get into it. Representing The Bent Musket is Steve Stoehr, who is not only a good dude but also a home run threat in the batting cage.
So, Steve, How 'bout them Revs?
Seriously. If you would have told me in week two or three that the Revs would be second in the East and tied for the best points-per-game total in the conference, I would have laughed at you. This was not - and frankly, still is not - a team that played like conference champs, or even conference contenders. But there they are. Obviously it's early in the season, but grinding out results against Sporting KC and Toronto, and then whipping up on Seattle like that? Things are definitely looking promising for 2014.
Coming into the season, a lot of pundits had the Revolution picked to be big-time contenders in the East, but I had my doubts. They did not effectively replace Juan Agudelo and there were question marks at defensive midfield. The things that they have lacked in the last two or three seasons - size, physicality, lethality at striker, a steadying midfield presence, natural width, and danger on set-pieces - weren't really addressed. Sure, Teal Bunbury is a guy who can bang around up top, but he doesn't have Agudelo's all-around skills as a target forward and primary goalscorer. They drafted two big-ish guys in Patrick Mullins and Steve Neumann, but college talent is always a question mark when transitioning to the pros. Scott Caldwell was excellent as a defensive midfielder in 2013, but by the end of the year he'd been edged out by Andy Dorman for sheer size considerations, and Dorman was a guy with a lot of holes in his game, too. Add to that the continued lack of a consistent set-piece taker and effective players who liked to stay wide, and you were looking at 2013's Revs without the flash and firepower that Agudelo provided.
Somehow they've managed to work around that. Moving Mullins to the center-forward spot was a stroke of genius, and if the last two matches are any indication, he is flourishing. Not as much as Teal Bunbury, though, who prefers to run at goal rather than play with his back to it, and as a winger, gets that opportunity all game. Diego Fagundez found his scoring shoes - and how - and suddenly you have a team that is capable of stunning, lightning-fast play while hitting you on the break. Plus, of course, there's the continued emergence of Lee Nguyen, who began his professional career as a winger/striker, but has morphed into a devastating box-to-box threat who wins balls, starts attacks, and sets up goals with impunity.
And then there's the depth. The last two wins have been with Jose Goncalves, the 2013 Defender of the Year and team captain, out with injury. Kelyn Rowe, one of last season's standout performers by anyone's metric in the league, has also been injured. Saer Sene has disappeared from the lineup. Regardless, guys like Darrius Barnes and Daigo Kobayashi have stepped up, while Andrew Farrell has showcased his versatility by moving to center-back. And there's more, with players like Steve Neumann and Charlie Davies showing their ability, chomping at the bit to get time.
So if you guys are looking for something to do until hockey season starts, you could do worse than watch the Revs. It will be heart-stopping, frustrating, and at times, ugly. But look at last week: they got bossed around the pitch by a seemingly-superior Seattle Sounders squad, pinned in their own half and defending desperately with no hope in sight. Except when they weren't. And when they weren't, they broke hard and fast and laid waste to the Sounders' defense for five goals. It doesn't get more exciting than that.
I have it on good authority that the tailgate before Revs games is also quite nice.
Thanks again, Steve! Be sure to check out more on The Bent Musket.