Revs headed into the Montreal game on the back of two disappointing defeats at Seattle and New York. Both defeats exposed a soft underbelly to the New England defence.
Without the departed AJ Soares and the injured Jermain Jones and Lee Nguyen, their was a weakness down the spine of the New England defence that was not there during the teams run to the MLS Cup.
Without Soares, Revs manager Jay Heaps had opted to pair defenders Andrew Farrell and Jose Goncalves together in the middle of the Revs back four. This was a partnership that did not work last season, and still doesn’t. But after Goncalves’s red card against New York, Heaps was forced to reshuffle his back line, bringing in Darrius Barnes to partner the former #1 pick.
The move worked as the Revs defense dealt with everything Montreal threw at them, although that was helped by Montreal’s defensive approach to the game.
At the other end of the pitch it helped New England that Lee Nguyen was fit to play for the first time this season, joining Kelyn Rowe, Diego Fagundez in an attacking three just behind Juan Agudelo.
But all that offensive power failed to really test Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush in the first half. Both Rowe and Fagundez like to cut in, and without any overlapping play from Revs fullbacks Jeremy Hall and Chris Tierney, the Revs attack lacked width and easy for the Montreal Impact to deal with.
Even when Heaps paired Agudelo and Charlie Davies in the second half, the Revs could not muster much of an offense. The one clear cut chance New England created was when an unmarked Nguyen headed over from seven yards out from a great Tierney cross.
New England fans will point to the fact that the Rev picked up their first point of the season, and got a clean sheet despite missing two defenders. And that a year ago, New England had one point after three games and still ended up in the MLS Cup.
But this is a better team than the one a year ago. Expectations should be to build on last season’s late run.
After three games, New England look far from the finished product and that has to worry Revs fans. Without Jermain Jones in the middle of the pitch, New England looks like an average MLS side instead of an MLS Cup contender.