New England Evolution: Revs II snap losing streak by spatchcocking the Owls

If a soccer team plays a season but no one’s there to see it, did that season really happen?

Such were the thoughts that must’ve been going through Clint Peay’s head last Wednesday, after Revs II’s 1-0 loss to FC Tucson left them propping up the USL League One table. As if losing four games on the trot wasn’t bad enough, the result also saw Peay’s team set a new record for the worst form in USL1 through nine games, with three fewer points, one less goal scored, and three more goals conceded than the 2019 incarnation of Orlando City B.

Then, this happened.

Like a long-distance runner putting on a burst of speed to avoid being lapped by the race leader – or cocking a leg to trip them up – Revs II seem to only want to perform against teams with something still to play for. Quite how a team manages to give the resurgent Richmond Kickers a run for their money, hand Greenville their first loss, and then get spanked by Madison is a question for your trusty tarot deck.

It sure as heck isn’t down to astute tactics: Peay’s been cycling through formations like a kid having a bad run on FIFA. With regard to the Omaha game, some of the more partisan Parliamentarians may argue the referee might as well have been wearing a Revs II jersey. Be that as it may, there was a quite epic lack of imagination in the Owls’ offence.

For a guy who stands at 5’7”, Elma N’For can be quite the pop-up pirate at times. However, when he’s got the Argonath of Collin Verfurth (6’4”) and Jon Bell (6’0”) looming over him, Jay Mims should’ve known simply making it rain crosses wouldn’t guarantee a breakthrough. Unfortunately for Mims’ minions, their apparent plan B – pot-shots from twenty-odd yards out – haven’t much bothered Joe Rice all season.

Does this mean Revs II have finally turned a corner? I’ll be waiting on the outcome of their forthcoming basement brawl with OCB down in Orlando Kissimmee (COVID permitting) before you hear any endorsements from me about Peay’s navigational skills.

Centerback or Quarterback?

The big ‘highlight’ of Revs II’s trip to Tucson was Peay’s parody of long-ball tactics. An integral part of the New Englanders’ game plan centred around Portuguese draftee midfielder Tiago Mendonca. Covering for Verfurth at centerback, his role was akin to that of clay pigeon launcher, hoofing Hail Mary after Hail Mary from Revs II’s defensive third into Tucson’s box.

Maybe the hope was the ball might serendipitously ricochet off Orlando Sinclair. Whatever cosmic event that allowed the Costa Rican loanee to break his 1,000-minute goal drought against the Red Wolves had clearly passed, as Connor Presley was to learn. Charging into Tucson’s penalty area, the Texan laid the ball off to his ex-Loudoun United teammate for a one-two, only to see it knocked amiably into the mitts of goalie Amal Knight.

Grow Your Own Goals

One of the few silver linings in what’s fast becoming an inaugural season-to-forget is the fact that five of Revs II’s eight goals have come off the feet (and assorted other appendages) of homegrown players. That figure will likely grow now that Bruce has finally thrown Clint a bone in the form of U-20 World Cup hero Justin Rennicks.

Incidentally, the ball which led to Rennicks’ opener in Omaha came off the foot of one Orlando Sinclair. It almost makes up for his part in invalidating Nic Firmino’s worldie of a free kick.

Menaced by Dennis

When an Englishman watches an American third-division soccer match, he doesn’t typically expect to see a kid from his hometown (population: 300,000) helping to beat the team he’s covering. He expects it even less to happen twice in as many years. Yet, there Charlie-bloody-Dennis was, taking the corner that led to Tucson’s goal, much like he was on that rainy night in Statesboro last year, orchestrating Tormenta’s comeback against Toronto FC II (I’ve got priors) with some astute sh*thousery.