- Peter Nowak isn't afraid to gamble, and he hit the jackpot Saturday night. All three of the substitutions Nowak made against New England brought attacking players in and took defensive players out. Nowak is not a coach who does things out of desperation, but the Revolution are a direct, physical team that likes to counterattack. So it was quite something to see the Union's lineup at the end of the game.
The Union started with a midfield of Kyle Nakazawa, Andrew Jacobson, Stefani Miglioranzi and Eduarado Coudet, with Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Mwanga up front. They ended with Jacobson, Le Toux, Roger Torres and Justin Mapp in the midfield, and Mwanga and Jack McInerney up front.
That's pretty much every healthy attacking player Nowak's got right now. I doubt it would have worked for 90 minutes, but it certainly worked for 13.
- Justin Mapp's game-winning goal came from a remarkably difficult shot. With a defender about to run into him, Mapp struck the ball with his first touch at the edge of the 18-yard box. The ball swung perfectly between Chris Tierney and Danny Mwanga, and hit the inside of the net at the far post. Mapp's assist on the game-tying goal also came from a very nice touch, as he chipped the ball right on to the foot of an onrushing Jack McInerney.
Just like you do in the back yard, right?
- McInerney made the most of his opportunity. Many of you have called for the 18-year-old to get more playing time, and he got his chance Saturday. He delivered, scoring the tying goal with a first-touch finish from close range. McInerney's run was also impressive, sneaking almost unnoticed through the middle of the Revolution's back line.
Even though Alejandro Moreno trained during the week, the fact that he didn't make the trip says to me that he's not quite ready to return to the field yet. So we may see more of McInerney in the next few matches.
Let's hope he keeps his shirt on, though. No offense to the ladies, but taking your shirt off after scoring a goal is an automatic yellow card.
- It was good to see Roger Torres get on the field for 45 minutes. He played some nice passes and just as importantly managed to avoid getting whacked around by New England's defensive players. Torres almost had the game-winning goal, but his shot in the 89th minute was blocked by a sliding Chris Tierney.
I wouldn't be surprised if we see more of Torres on Wednesday against Chivas, as the Mexican club's style should give "Pipito" more space to operate in midfield.
- Chris Seitz had a strong game. With the exception of Marko Perovic's goal, Seitz dealt with just about everything that came his way, from crosses to free kicks. Just about everything was caught, too, and not punched. That's a very good sign.
The goal was certainly not Seitz's fault - Michael Orozco Fiscal and Danny Califf both had chances to clear the ball, and Juan Diego Gonzalez froze in front of Ilija Stolica. Credit to Stolica for swinging his body around Gonzalez to shoot, but someone in gold should have dealt with the situation first.
There were complaints from Union players and fans about a handball on Shalrie Joseph as Joseph and Danny Califf fought for the ball. Yes, the ball hit Joseph's hand, but the contact was clearly inadvertent and Joseph was pulling his arm away from the ball when the contact happened.
There are times when inadvertent contact can be called a handball, but those situations usually involve the arm being clearly extended out. That didn't appear to me to be the case here. I know there are some referees out there reading this blog, so feel free to give your view of the play in the comments.
- I've become numb to inconsistent refereeing. This is not a good thing. Steve Nicol complained about Stefani Miglioranzi's yellow card in the 29th minute, saying that if Cory Gibbs' foul was a red then Miglioranzi's was too.
Nicol has a fair point: Miglioranzi was late with the tackle, missed the ball completely and slid studs-up into Sainey Nyassi's feet. Gibbs wasn't as late, but definitely cleared out Eduardo Coudet. Both plays were red card-worthy, and Miglioranzi is lucky he stayed on the field. You could even argue that Miglioranzi's foul was rougher than Gibbs'.
But if Nicol wants to complain about officiating, he should go watch tape of last week's CONCACAF Champions League group stage matches. Hilario Grajeda's performance on Saturday was sterling compared to the shamefully uneven whistles and cards dished out to Toronto FC, Real Salt Lake, and the Columbus Crew in their Champions League road games.
There's nothing we can really do about bad refereeing. We can complain until we're blue in the face, but the only way to fix the problem is for U.S. Soccer and the other CONCACAF nations to put up the money for better referee development programs. Good referees don't fall out of the sky fully-formed, so we're going to have to live with what we've got for a while. It's too bad, but what else is there to say?
- The Revolution need a stadium of their own. Granted, New England's situation isn't as urgent as D.C. United, which plays in a crumbling facility and pays rent to the District of Columbia government. The Revs and Gillette Stadium are owned by the Kraft family, which also owns the Patriots.
But Gillette Stadium is too big for Major League Soccer. It's also much more spacious and spread-out than Qwest Field, RFK or even the Linc. So it doesn't hold noise in very well. On top of all that, Foxboro is inacccessible by public transportation for Revolution games - the MBTA's commuter rail service only runs for Patriots games. So Boston-based fans who don't drive are mostly shut out.
It would be great if the Revs could get a facility that's closer to Boston, or at least more accessible by public transportation in some form. But land is expensive, and there isn't much of it available. Last month, Revolution chief operating officer Brian Bilello wrote on the team's website that four sites are under consideration "around Boston's metro core."
One of them is in Somerville, a suburb just a few miles north of Cambridge. The MBTA has approved a plan to extend one of the Green Line routes to that area, and the Revolution are looking at building their new stadium there. Here's hoping it happens.