VANCOUVER, BC – New England Revolution senior staff writer and editor Jeff Lemieux gives us the scoop on the Revs ahead of Saturday’s match (4 p.m. PT on TSN1 and TSN 1040).
How is Gershon Koffie fitting in so far and what’s his status ahead of Saturday’s match?
JL: The departure of Jermaine Jones prior to this season left the Revolution with a need for a very specific type of central midfielder, and Gershon Koffie has filled that need seamlessly through the first half of the 2016 campaign.
Koffie’s box-to-box style – combining a hard-nosed defensive mentality with a keen ability to pick the right pass – has been a great fit with the Revs, as he provides the perfect balance between the steady Scott Caldwell and the creative Lee Nguyen.
When healthy, Koffie has been an automatic choice in New England’s midfield. Unfortunately he suffered a right knee sprain in late May and is still working his way back from that injury, making him a serious question mark ahead of this weekend’s potential return to Vancouver.
The Revs enter the weekend below the red line in the Eastern Conference. Is that an accurate depiction of how they’ve been playing or is there more to the story?
JL: There’s always more to the story in MLS, isn’t there?
No one in New England would argue that the Revs have been at their consistent best through 14 games – consistency has often been an issue for this team – but some monumentally frustrating moments have prevented them from picking up points in games they should’ve won, particularly at home.
Three of the Revolution’s four draws at Gillette Stadium have come under bizarre circumstances. They were shut out in a 0-0 draw with D.C. United despite registering 18 shots; they were denied a clear penalty and a good goal in the 1-1 draw with Toronto FC; and they conceded a 90th-minute equalizer in the 2-2 draw with Orlando City SC.
So could the Revs very easily have six to eight more points than they currently do? Absolutely. But most teams in the league could probably make that case. For New England, the second half of the season will be about turning those draws into wins on a consistent basis.
3. What has the addition of Kei Kamara done for this team?
JL: Eventually, Kei Kamara’s biggest contribution for the New England Revolution will be goals. But in his first three games with his new club, his contribution must be measured by what he’s doing for others.
Although Kamara has yet to register a goal or assist for New England, his mere presence in the Revolution’s attack has provided a spark. Case in point: The Revs have averaged two goals per game with Kamara in the lineup, having averaged just 1.18 goals per game in the 11 games before his arrival.
The biggest beneficiary of Kamara’s presence has been Lee Nguyen. Often targeted by opposing defenses, Nguyen has found more space as opponents have been forced to key on Kamara.
Nguyen had just one goal and two assists in 10 appearances before the trade to acquire Kamara. But with Kamara on the field, Nguyen has three goals and three assists in the last three games.
4. The Revs will get a result on Saturday if…
JL: … Lee Nguyen continues to find space to operate.
‘Caps fans likely don’t need reminding of Nguyen’s two-goal, one-assist performance against Vancouver back in 2012, and the 29-year-old midfielder always seems to find a bit of extra motivation against the club that waived him prior to that 2012 season.
Nguyen already seems motivated by his recent Copa America snub, and he’s taken on extra responsibility by wearing the captain’s armband in recent weeks. The effect has been conspicuous, as Nguyen has had a hand in each of the Revolution’s last six goals.
Follow Jeff Lemieux on Twitter for all the latest Revs news.
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