Having previously expressed some reservations about referring to Revs II as the “Baby Revs”, their 2-1 loss to the Richmond Kickers last Friday may lead me to revise that stance. This is no reflection on the younger line-up they fielded, nice as it was to see 16-year-old Hikari Fujiwara get a start. Quite simply, there are newborn babies less toothless than Revs II’s offense right now.
Unlike the capitulation to Orlando City’s junior varsity team, losing to this incarnation of the Richmond Kickers carries none of the shame it might’ve done last year. With Richmond enjoying their best start to a season in five years, Revs II were anything but favourites going into Friday’s game. If anyone had told Kickers goalie Akira Fitzgerald how quiet his night would be, he could’ve swapped his water bottle with a hip flask and hardly noticed the difference.
— New England Revolution II (@NERevolution2) August 22, 2020
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but once again, Congolese winger Mayele Malango proved to be Revs II’s only real weapon. It was a feat made all the more impressive by the fact he only played thirty minutes. God only knows why.
In his stead, everyone’s favourite miscast attacking midfielder Orlando Sinclair made his untriumphant return to the starting XI. It may surprise almost no one to learn the Costa Rican loanee registered all of zero shots in the first half and a paltry two (both from outside the box) in the second. About the best you can say is he didn’t deprive any teammates of good opportunities this time around.
— New England Revolution II (@NERevolution2) August 21, 2020
With the double game week looming, Conor Presley faring little better than Sinclair up top, and Malango being mortal, the coaching staff better find the key to the cupboard they locked Meny Silva and Michael Tsicoulias in sharpish. Unless the team have secretly flown over the Saint Lucian first division’s golden boot winner and are just waiting on him to finish quarantining, there’s but one thing yet to try: actually starting some kids upfront.
A little boyish enthusiasm goes a long way in this sport.
Shock & Bore
If you were spared the displeasure of watching Darren Sawatzky’s FC Tucson last year, picture eleven men boring their opponents into a turnover, then counter-attacking like greyhounds coming out of the traps with a ball for a bunny. Now, apply that approach to a situation where roster decisions aren’t governed by the whims of Phoenix Rising’s front office, and hey-gazpacho, you get the 2020 Richmond Kickers.
The story of right-back Colby Quinoses’s game almost epitomizes the toll Sawatzkyball can have on young players. Perhaps still riding the high of his breakout performance in Arlington, the seventeen-year-old started off with a blistering run into the box and shot on target inside thirty seconds. A turgid sixty minutes (and a Richmond goal) later, the kid’s gut instinct was to whack the ball to the centre-backs whenever he found the ball at his feet.
You could practically hear Kent Brockman on the call at times.
In The Finest Tradition…?
Following their inaugural road trip, Revs II appeared to celebrate their return to Gillette with a couple of nods to something that blighted their home opener versus Union Omaha: the moonshot. Perhaps emboldened by Isaac Angking’s screamer and his own fortuitous edge-of-the-box volley in Texas, Nicolas Firmino – seemingly starting in his fourth different position in as many games (trust ESPN+ graphics at your peril) – belted the ball onto the roof of the Optum Field Lounge.
To his relief (and presumably everyone else’s disappointment), no property damage eventuated.
“Boring Boring Greenville”
Aside from Malango’s timely first goal, if there’s one other positive to scrape from the barrel of this game, it’s this: what better way for Revs II to mentally prepare for their upcoming clash with Greenville Triumph and John Harkes, USL1’s grandmaster of shock-and-bore tactics? Given the fourteen-point chasm between the teams, Revs II even scoring past Dallas Jaye (God’s gift to Guamanian soccer) could be cause for a much happier article.
No promises, though.