State of Mind: Too hot to think
Location: Non air-conditioned supporter's couch
A lot of things can change in three weeks - the question is have things changed enough for TFC to steal points down in Foxborough? The boys in Red are headed way south of Southie in hopes of building off of their last minute comeback performance on Wednesday night. And while the team and the fans may be tempted to rest on the laurels of that exciting finish, it would be a mistake to gloss over the errors from Wednesday in a haze of Terry Dunfield celebrations.
The Reds will be relying on a very young backline as Doneil Henry is likely to start in the place of the injured Jeremy Hall and with JDG no longer with the team there's a chance that Matt Stinson may see some time in the midfield. As defense is always (new CB, Bueller? Bueller?) the weak part of TFC's game, when it's an (even more) inexperienced group well, we all get a little nervous. Adding to the nerves (well my nerves anyway) is the still arduous schedule that the Reds have been slogging through; playing a game every 3-4 days - whereas the Rev have been playing one game a week and will be well rested for tonight's match. Once again Mariner's use of his subs (please use your subs wisely Paul, pretty please!) will play a major role in how this game turns out as with limited resources, a tired squad and another league game this coming Wednesday (we are not talking about that game next Saturday), managing the minutes and staying competitive will be no mean feat.
What's more nerve wracking is that the Rev have been on a very nice run of form, having not lost in their last five games and winning two of those including winning 2-0 over the NY Energy Drinks. This is not the team that let TFC put two goals past them three weeks ago - and they are looking to continue the streak that has them with three clean sheets in a row. Whatever defensive woes the Rev were experiencing seems to be in full on lock down. Shalrie Joseph is back from injury to bolster the midfield and joining him is the Revs brand new DP, Honduran forward Jerry Bengston who scored a goal in his first appearance with the team last weekend. Add to that the still dangerous (I've said it before and will keep saying it) Barry Feilhaber...well, it's sure to be an interesting (and potentially soul crushing) game.
All is not lost; it's not as though TFC have been completely miserable - draws are better than losses (so says obvious girl). And the fight (don't make me use the "H" word) they showed on Wednesday in not giving up like they have so many times in the past (see three weeks ago - or most of the season) is a baby positive step; and if you remove that horrible, crashing back to earth loss to the Union on Sunday, they're scoring a fair number of goals. Actually one of the most notable things from Wednesday's match is that all three goals were scored by different members of TFC and none of them were named Danny Koevermans - instead it was Silva, Frings and Dunfield who were the difference makers in this one. Danny has now gone two games - I know, an entire TWO games - without a goal and his trigger foot must be itching, I'd say he's due.
You can never discount the confidence that a wild, last minute win can give to a team - especially one that saw an unlikely goal scorer in literally the dying seconds of the game. And with the changes to the team (both through trades and playing time) coming fast and furious, these days the players who do make the starting XI are playing for their positions as much as for points and pride. Or (speaking of the unlikely goal scorer) as Terry Dunfield put it yesterday: "It's like the Hunger Games..." - hopefully without the violence and killing, otherwise practices have changed a lot since I last played.
I feel that this game is either going to be a grinding, competitive, end-to-end, anyone can win kind of game or a nightmare of epic proportions - most likely for TFC. Hoping like mad for the former while the little cynical demon on my shoulder is whispering it's the latter. Of course I plan to muffle that demon with my TFC scarf if he gets too loud; I haven't gone completely over to the Dark Side just yet.
COME ON YOU REDS!!
LES LINKS: You know the drill - The Yorkies, Red Nation Online and Waking The Red (James, James & John).
Oh, one last thing - does anyone else think it's kind of hilarious that they're playing the Revolution on Bastille Day? Just me? OK, as you were...