Revs Break Duck Over Dallas’ Heart

It wasn’t till Taylor Twellman’s post-game interview, when he smiled about seeing “Rally” (Steve Ralston) and “Heapsy” (Jay Heaps) in the first flush of final victory the New England Revolution had ever known, that real contentment about the state of things filtered in. Even if a sprinkling of New England fans made the trip to Frisco to share the moment, trophy ceremonies in disinterested, or even hostile, environments lack for the due fullness of joy. But calm, happy expression on Twellman’s face and the realization that Ralston, Major League Soccer’s (MLS) answer to Cal Ripken Jr., would collect at least trophy in his relentless career bridged the gap between what I hoped to see and what I got. Call it the difference between a cozy little wedding and a drunken tear through a Vegas chapel: both can make you happy, but one is definitely more fun.

As for FC Dallas, it’s something more than there being no joy in Frisco. A suicide watch might be in order.

In practical terms, I caught about 65 uninterrupted minutes, I saw three goals scored, heard the noise that attended the other and caught the replay, and still have no clue how New England scored their third, or who did the scoring. My apartment building – God bless it and the nuts who live there – was evacuated when the fire alarm went off, something that happens way more often than it should. Based on as much of the game as I saw, though, the story line going in held up – e.g. the Dallas’ defense would sabotage their offense. And thinking of that defense only reinforces all the questions about why a team desperately in need of defensive solidity went and bought a circus animal named Denilson.

The Dallas defense committed something worse than sabotage, really – at least where the two New England goals I saw were concerned; we’re talking Rube Goldberg goals, improbable progressions of events concluding with finishes so easy you’re almost willing to buy the mouse-trap. I’m wondering whether Steve Morrow even bothered yelling at his defenders; after all, what would Dallas’ defenders learn from abuse what they don’t already know? What’s the sense of piling pain on top of humiliation?

The real tragedy is one glorious goal the Dallas’ defense canceled out. When Arturo Alvarez picked up the ball on the touch-line near the cameras, you knew something good would follow. But something better still came as Alvarez rushed toward the Revolution goal and launched a shot past Matt Reis that defied centuries old laws of geometry. After pulling that one out of the top drawer, I’m betting Alvarez had the sadly sparse Dallas crowd on its feet when, a few minutes later, he took off on a run straight through New England’s center. That Alvarez enterprising wizardry came up just short typified Dallas’ night: good, but painfully short of good enough.

Getting back to New England, even as they didn’t look so special at any time I watched, I got to wondering about what this win will do to the Revs’ still-live bid for MLS Cup. Even with everyone pointing to DC United and Houston, or even a Chivas USA team that seems to be fading, the prospect that anyone watching had just watched a kind of exorcism occurred to me. What kind of a lift could New England get from this?

Well, that’s me waxing poetic. I had a couple nuts-n-bolts points to pass on in the form of player ratings – though with a little twist. It occurs to me that when a given player turns in an unremarkable performance, it makes sense to not remark upon it. With that in mind, I started writing down the names of people and/or entities that did bear pointing out. Here’s that little role call:

Arturo Alvarez: My man of the match, he made the game worth watching. His numbers don’t stack high, but I’m a big fan. His ability to pull defenses apart makes me want to see what he can do at the next level. Christopher Sullivan called 2007 his “breakout year” and I’m inclined to agree.

Steve Ralston: Timing, poise, and, above all, class: Ralston stands as a model pro. If this was his first trophy – I can’t think of one, but invite corrections – it came far too late. I tell you, he’ll serve as the measure between good and great for years to come.

Michael Parkhurst: As highly as I rate him (very high), I don’t think he’s a good fit for a three-man back-line. Pair him with Avery John perhaps?

Adrian Serioux: A slow-moving part in the misfiring machine that is Dallas’ back line. He doesn’t bring enough, either in poise or smarts, to cover and that showed last night.

Juan Toja: He merely influenced a game he had to control.

Dominic Oduro: I love the Birdman, not just for his speed, but for his willingness to do a forward’s dirty work. He’s a John Wolyniec-caliber striker, which ain’t half bad.

Carlos Ruiz: His decision fairly early in the game to use a foot to meet an Alvarez cross instead of his head or body cost Dallas a goal and an early lead. This suggests a waning hunger, something an eye-gouging scrapper like Ruiz needs.

David Wagenfuhr: In spite of tapping in Dallas’ second (it was him, right?  UPDATE: No.  It was Abe Thompson…and I remember that now after reading it; how did I confuse the two?), he thwarts his offensive upside by making the wrong pass too often – e.g. he crosses when he should try something short and tries something short when he should cross.

Khano Smith: He’s good on the flank, but I’d like to see him revert to forward. Perhaps try Noonan out left? Or, here’s a thought, scramble Smith, Ralston, Twellman, Dorman, and Noonan all the time! Clockwork Blue?

Wells Thompson: If he doesn’t have a better sophomore campaign, it’s USL or bust for this one. His dribbling and tenacity would work well there.

I’ll end it here….and I’ll go find out about how the Revs took the game to 3-1 before ending it at 3-2. Today is a good day, though. As for what I feel about the Revs right here, right now…well, I’ll get to that later.

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4 Responses

  1. FYI, it was Wells Thompson who got the last Revs goal. Not spectacular, but pretty.

    As much as it pains me to say it, Dallas played the better game, at least in the second half I saw. But I’m still thrilled they lost.

  2. Hey Laurie. I’m glad to see Thompson scored one; it’s the aimless spazzing and communicable case of the jitters I see in the lad that makes me not like him so much.

  3. I just vomited more than a little in my mouth at the comparison of Cal Ripken, Jr. to Steve Ralston.

    How *dare* you sir.

    *performs eight ‘hail ironmans’*

  4. But doesn’t Ralston hold the record for longevity in MLS? Still, I don’t like the idea of making someone physically ill, especially the “more than a little” vomit in the mouth trick…woo, that’s nasty. Just plug a player of your choosing into the analogy and try to strike Ralston from your mind.

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