The New England Revolution got its 2013 season off to a winning start with a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire on Saturday night.
Jerry Bengtson scored the game’s only goal in the 62nd minute, finishing from close range after Kelyn Rowe and Juan Toja combined to create the chance.
Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis made four saves, including a spectacular save late in the first half, to pick up the clean sheet.
Revs coach Jay Heaps starting lineup featured four players making their MLS debuts, including offseason signings Kalifa Cisse and Jose Goncalves, and SuperDraft selections Andrew Farrell and Donnie Smith.
The noticeable difference in this New England side over last year is team speed, especially at the back. Andrew Farrell has to be one of the quickest players in MLS, while Jose Goncalves is a lot faster than A.J. Soares was. This team speed allows the Revs to press a little higher up the field, because Heaps knows that they can recover if the ball is knocked over the top.
Sitting in front of the back four was Kalifa Cissé, and as you can see from the chalkboard from the game, Cisse did a pretty good job sitting in front of the back four, protecting them.
Heaps played Juan Carlos Toja in the number 10 roel, between the midfield and Bengtson. In the first half he was invisible, but played much better in the second half when he took part in the best Recvs interplay that I have seen in years. Rowe, Toja and Lee Nguyen exchanged terrific one-touch passes to slip in Toja but his shot was blocked. It was a very Barcelonaish move!
The other big difference this season is that for the first time since Taylor Twellman retired, New England has a genuine striker. Jerry Bengtson scored the Reve goal, after an exquisite chip from Rowe. What impressed me even more than Bengtson’s goal was his finish on a later chance that was ruled offside. Bengtson still ran on and clinically slotted the ball home, and if he can get New England 15+ goals this season, New England will challenge for playoff spot.
What did you think of the Revs win?