Revs v. Dynamo: First Preview of Four (on the Way to Brainwashing); The ‘Keepers

I’m putting the Daily Sweeper on hiatus for the remainder of this, Championship Weekend, in order to truly obsess over the upcoming MLS Cup Final. Said obsession includes plans to not only dissect the teams to the point of creating a bloody mess, but also to:

1) convince myself that the New England Revolution can, in fact, win the game.
2) push myself into a game-time frenzy powerful enough to scare my children.

Now, the obvious sub-text of #1 is that I expect the Houston Dynamo will leave RFK’s cold/soggy/cold-soggy field as the 2007 Champions of Major League Soccer (MLS). (NOTE: THIS IS NOT A FORMAL PREDICTION AND IN NO WAY REPRESENTS MY WAGER FOR THE FINAL INSTALLMENT OF THE CENTER HOLDS IT/WHO ATE ALL THE CUPCAKES PLAYOFF PICK DUEL.) Perhaps all those caps aren’t necessary, though, since the text of #1 clearly points to an intention to arrange my mental space and, hence, my wagering around a New England Revolution win…I’m just not sure I’m ever going to get there.

Anyway, getting back to the plans for the weak, I plan to build the week’s posts around a four-day breakdown of components from both teams that will face each other on the field – e.g. the Dynamo defense versus the Revolution’s offense; the Revolution’s defense against the Dynamo’s offense, etc. Today will begin with a very brief, gut-reaction overview of the match-up, followed by an equally brief analysis of the on-field, essentially indirect positional showdown between the ‘keepers. One last thing: I invite anyone out there to drop their thoughts on the match up – whatever they happen to be and whether they’re on topic or not – into the comments. I’m especially looking for the insights of “interested parties” – here, I’m thinking of Martek and Jimmy Chowda.

That said, here come my two cents:

The Dynamo is the better team. There I said it. In spite of several references through the season that DC United is “the best team in MLS,” I don’t think that’s accurate – two consecutive Supporters’ Shields aside. When I say the Houston Dynamo is the best team in MLS, I mean, top to bottom, they’re the most balanced team in the league, solid-to-strong in nearly every position, etc.

Going the other way, New England are no slouches; moreover, they’re better in a couple places – I’d argue at forward and in the defensive side of central midfield; and, for what it’s worth, I rate Michael Parkhurst higher in terms of total value than Eddie Robinson or Ryan Cochrane…but even that’s complicated. Average the quality of personnel across the field, however, and you get back to Houston being the better team. And, soccer being an 11-player game as opposed to, oh, a five-player game, that whole averaging thing makes sense.

But I’ll pick through the data on that and contort my thinking till I see nothing but Revolution blue-and-red (or is it blue and white? Or blue, white, and red? Help! Their uniforms contain all those colors!!).

Now to the last piece in today’s post, how the goalkeepers from each side stack up. Neither side really hurts in the ‘keeper column: both Pat Onstad and Matt Reis are commanding figures. But, if you’re taking this down to the level of man-versus-man, I’d give the edge to Reis. Onstad may be the Man of Last Resort to the best defense in MLS history, but I credit his back four as much for that, if not more, than Onstad himself. Onstad is good – very good, even – but I think Reis means more to the Rev’s defensive scheme. And, thanks to youth, I think he’s a better shot-stopper. So, in the duel of the ‘keepers, the least direct of all on-field tilts, I’m giving the edge to New England.

…and, yes, I know all about last year’s final.

More tomorrow…and the day after that…and the day after that.

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12 Responses

  1. OK, I’ll take the invitation. I… have to agree with you on this one. If a gun was to my head and I had to pick one of these guys, I’d go with Reis on the basis of youth alone. Onstad is the best positional keeper in the league, and this skill is aided tremendously by having those four guys in front of him. But when it comes to athleticism and shot-stopping reflexes, I’d go with Reis. (And I remember an interview from earlier this season where Onstad said the same thing, which is not too surprising since he and Reis are buddies.)

  2. It will be an “interesting party” down in DC as there appears to be well over 500 in the Revs supporters section. I’m bummed I’m not going due to (gasp) more important things going on in my life in the surrounding days.

    Anyhow, NE fans have always sweated Jaqua since he owned Riley on a goal a year and a half ago. They have shut him down ever since. Joseph Ngwenya is hit or miss. It’s going to come down to whether there is a first half goal to determine if this game will be “exciting”.

    I’m actually doing a key matchups series starting tonight, so look for that on Blue Blooded Journo.

  3. I did not know that…the thing about Reis and Onstad being chummy.

    One addendum: I know Jimmy Chowda has his own (top-notch) space, so posting links to commentary is A-OK, rather than re-writing it all fresh. The same applies to Martek. No pressure, of course. I just like the idea of getting as many insights into this space as possible…not least because I know my limitations and blind spots.

  4. Right on. As it says in the comment above, feel free (and please do) post a link to your take on the key matchups. More views will make us smarter.

  5. If keepers can be surgically separated from their defenses- keeper vs. keeper- I would agree with you. Yet in many respects, they are joined like Siamese Twins.

    If the latter is the case and the defense is one fluid unit, then the Dynamo win this one for me, hands down.

  6. Oh, and I will never have a bad thing to say about Pat Onstad. Last year, we were singing “you’ve got the oldest player, in the league” in The Fort, and when he went to grab his water bottle, he walked back all hunched over like he was elderly. He applauded us at the end of the half.

    Completely classy individual.

  7. Cool Onstad story. Thanks Jimmy.

  8. And that right there is why Pat Onstad is teh greatest. Great story, Jimmy!

  9. I just published (yeah, I said published) the first “matchups” post in Blue Blooded Journo:

    http://bluebloodedjourno.blogspot.com/

    It’s the dreaded Revs left vs Houston’s right matchup.

  10. Very good. I’ll give it a prominent place tomorrow, so any visitors to this site can find it easily.

  11. Thanks for that great story Jimmy. Onstad earned my enduring respect when, after last year’s Cup win, a reporter asked him about Dyanmo’s Hispanic support. He went on for about 5 minutes about the future fan base of the league, etc. Clearly, an extremely intelligent man. That being said, playtherapy says it perfectly for me up there as well. I think if you’re looking for a clear edge between the two teams, you’ll have to look somewhere else than the Onstad vs. Reis match-up.

    And Jeff, I like that this blog here is kind of a DMZ for NE and Dynamo fans. I can’t stand trash talk when it gets all mean-spirited, and a quick look at Blue Blooded Journo tells me that it’s not really Jimmy’s cup of tea either.

  12. […] my team – the New England Revolution – only further muddies my thinking.  And, as confessed in my first preview post, the object of this week’s blogging efforts boiled down to convincing myself of the […]

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