Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dynamo/Revs preview Part 1, in which Jimmy Chowda and I trade information with our respective enemy agents

The week before MLS Cup last year, Jimmy Chowda over at Blue Blooded Journo invited Dynamo blogger Texas Celt and I to answer five questions about the Dynamo for Jimmy's New England Revolution-themed site, which we did. (The idea was Jimmy's, which he claims he stole from some Celtics-themed site last year, the point being it's not plagiarism if you can lay out the string of copying, now is it?)

Well, those were the days B.N. (Before Nutmegged), so now that Mister3d, Playtherapy and I are all up and running in the footblogorama with a site of our own, Jimmy and I are at it again, only this time he asked me some questions and I also sent several to him. (You can read my answers to his questions here).

(Now hopefully, this will become a semi-regular feature here on Nutmegged this season before Dynamo games, which is a blatant invite for all other bloggers of teams about to play Dynamo to save me the footwork and contact me! If not, I'll come for you!)

Here are our questions and answers:

1. How is the 2008 Revolution already different from the 2007 model
overall? Any changes in their style of play, formation, etc.?

It will be different, but there's no telling by how much. It looks like they will have a very similar starting lineup as MLS Cup on the 29th. However, they have actually added some outside talent before the season for the first time since we lifted the southern no-fly zone. Nicol's keeping his formation preference secret right now, but I'd expect a 3-5-2 on opening night. Overall, we're hoping for a faster, sleeker attack from the Revs and much more crashing the net like you guys do in Houston.

2. Taylor Twellman went through a difficult offseason, to say the
least. How do you think that will affect his play this season, if at
all? Have you seen any signs of him being less than his usual self
during preseason?

Well, he went through a much more trying time during the 2006 season and he still finished with a respectable goal count. From professional (all signs pointed towards he was on the World Cup team), to financial (public complaints about the pay disparity between him and the likes of Donovan and Ruiz), to personal (death in the family) Twellman had a rough summer. This time around, he was very disappointed with the Preston situation, but that's now months in the past (he also had a family issue that got resolved a few weeks earlier). However, he got the contract he wanted at the start of last year and knows full well he's one of the rare players who can't possibly draw the amount of money it would take to replace him. He understands that, and he knows the only way to change the situation is to get playing time with the Nats over the summer and score some goals. My prediction is he'll be just fine.

3. Who do you think will be the most important new faces for the
Revs in 2008? How would you rate their preseasons so far?

There's more than one, and this goes back to the last question, but the most important new face by far is Chris Albright. Chris knows Twellman and a few others on the team very well which has eased his transition and lessened the impact of some key departures. Chemistry is key and he seems to have fit right in. On the field, he's proven in MLS and adds a new dimension to the team. Albright can get forward with competence, and may also allow the insertion of our 2007 #12 pick Amaechi Igwe in a 4-4-2. Igwe played forward in his one year of college and scored a bucket of goals, but he was a defender with the U-20's. We're hoping he can be a starter this year, but he may not be physical enough for a 3-5-2. As for Albright in a 3-5-2, some say his marking is suspect, but he's got the best possible coach in America to fix that.

With regards to the preseason, Kenny Mansally has been a revelation. He signed a senior contract even before camp, so you know Nicol knew something. With Cristman's slight knocks during the preseason, Mansally has stepped it up. I predict he'll start on opening night.

4. And the other side of question No. 4: How do you think the Revs
will be affected by their key losses from the offseason? I'm thinking
of Noonan and Dorman here.

Noonan has more finese than 95% of the players in MLS. However, I think teams had the Twellman-Noonan connection figured out. His departure means more off the field as he's very close to Twellman. Dorman, who's raising serious eyebrows in Scotland, lost his spot to Wells Thompson late last year. However, he makes great runs from the midfield into the box. He may have been poised for an upswing with the Revs in 2008. There's no telling now. What I do know is Dorman will probably earn a transfer over the summer and could quite possibly be earning 50-100 times his 2006 salary next fall. Dorman was the Midnight Riders man of the year in 2006.

5. And finally, what is your prediction for the season opener?

Prediction: Pain. We can play up here in March. However, the difference between 40-50F in the afternoon and 20-30 in the evening is, ah, night and day. I'm standing by for Garber's "see, I told you we can't play in march" line when it's just plain silliness to be scheduling games this way. We play a night game in Chicago on Thursday night, too.

As for the game: Revs 1-0.

And here's a quick look at what happened last time around. (Sorry Jimmy, my fans demand it!).

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