MLS New England Revolution Revs II

Sweeney: A solid 5 1/2 hours of Revs soccer made us raise our brows — and some hopes for the future

That headline is full of words we haven’t written about too often this summer.

There’s been a few Revolution/Revolution II twinbills to watch and cover since late July, given the herky jerky format Major League Soccer implemented when it resumed following the MLS IS BACK Tournament; of course, it’s a pandemic, and we have to be amenable to quick turnarounds. And with a couple of these weekend series stretched out — Revs II played Chattanooga on Sept. 9 and lost, 4-nil; the first team played Chicago and won, 2-1, 48 hours or so later — there hasn’t been an opportunity to put both sides up against each other and, you know, hope for the best for both.

That happened Saturday, though, as the soccer side of Patriot Place came up with four of the six points on offer; the Revs had a good afternoon in holding off New York City FC in a scoreless draw at Gillette Stadium, before the second team jumped out to a quick goal to nil lead over Union Omaha courtesy Justin Rennicks, and then wrapped it up with Nicolas Firmino’s goal in second-half stoppage time to seal it out in the Heartland.

(And no, we won’t even discuss Firmino’s world-class tally that was taken off the board for “obstruction.” It was B.S., that obstruction call, and Firmino should be in the team lead for goals headed to Orlando City B next weekend.)

While the Revolution couldn’t come up with a goal, we loved what we saw out of the first team.

They were certainly hungry, as New England put seven shots on Sean Johnson; a couple of them, including a violent header by Tajon Buchanan, went straight at him instead of angular, which would have forced Johnson to move. In other words, challenged him. In addition, the Revs were offside five times in the Route 1 matinee.

In the nightcap, more of the same. New England had six (should have been seven) shots on-target, and really made Omaha goalkeeper Rashid Nuhu work; if Los Revitos’ volleys in the tighter dimensions of Werner Park, which is also home to the Kansas City Royals’ on-hiatus Triple A affiliate, had been shorter or with less power, there could have been more for Rennicks and Firmino and Orlando Sinclair — who had solid hold-up play as well as a great pass to unlock Rennicks on the first goal — and Conor Presley to feast on.

And the Revs were offside seven times in that one.

That’s 12 offsides calls — and remember that the first team scored twice via Gustavo Bou, goals that were called back — between the two. Good attacking teams will be offside seven out of 10 times, and with Saturday’s numbers, that’s not too far off. It was certainly aggressive, something we haven’t seen too much of lately.

And let’s not forget about the play of the defensive units in front of Matt Turner and Joe Rice, respectively. Andrew Farrell had a spectacular sliding stop to keep the top flight tilt even; the way the second team utilized solid team defending — and doing it swarm fashion — protected Rice, and helped Rennicks’ tally hold up the rest of the way. They continued that stout play deep into the match, and managed to hold off a late Owls’ charge in the eighth minute of second-half stoppage time, releasing Firmino with a 3-on-1 rush on Nuhu.

Of course, we have to be realistic. This is only one match for each, a rather small sample size. For the Revolution, at least, it is one in a long barrage of positive results in 2020 — you know, against any team not named Philadelphia — and restored some semblance of order given last week’s sloppy defending late and the way they played against NYCFC earlier this month.

And Bruce Arena was rather happy with the performance, as he told Brad Feldman and Charlie Davies on Revolution Postgame Live.

That needs to continue Wednesday against a Montreal Impact side who’ll play with 24 hours’ less rest than New England on a short turnaround… and who will play Philadelphia at Red Bull Arena Sunday night. If it can continue, it will certainly be an interesting end to the 2020 campaign.

And for Revs II, we’d like to see it continue next Saturday morning when Los Revitos play an Orlando City B side that is certainly struggling: the Little Lions have lost three of their last five, with two draws dotted in there. The have, however, a bit of rest on their hands: the way League One’s schedule is set up, one team has a bye every week, and Orlando City hasn’t played since last Saturday, a 2-nil defeat at the hands of Fort Lauderdale.

Of course, that rest may not matter, especially if the same Revs II squad that showed up to Werner Park shows up to Osceola County Stadium in less than a week’s time.

And maybe, just maybe, we can continue to write with hope at what’s to come.