Michael Mancienne isn’t certain how it happened, but it did, and now he’s calling on his New England Revolution teammates to pick up the pieces and move on.
What happened was Orlando City SC scored five unanswered goals – four of which came in a nine-minute span after halftime – to throttle the Revs 6-2 in an Orlando City Invitational preseason game Wednesday night.
Teal Bunbury scored a pair of goals for New England in the 81st and 90th minutes to show some signs of life, but the two tallies didn’t really make the final score any more respectable.
“It’s a reality check,” said Mancienne, who is in the running to be team captain. “We all need to wake up. The season is right around the corner now. It doesn’t matter if it’s a preseason game. Every game from now until the season is a game that we need to win to get momentum going into the season.”
How early is too early for panic mode? It may still be preseason, but, as Mancienne pointed out after the game, the 2019 regular season opener is almost here – a little more than a week away, in fact.
Revolution coach Brad Friedel told his players on Feb. 6 after a 3-1 victory over Dynamo Kyiv that is was time to start focusing on winning preseason games rather than just on fitness or tactics.
The Revs have lost all three of their games since their coach made that proclamation, getting outscored 10-3 in the process. Overall, New England is 1-4-2 this preseason.
Wednesday’s match was not streamed, but Pro Soccer USA did have a reporter at the match and Orlando City posted most of the highlights on its official Twitter account as the game unfolded. All the evidence shows Orlando City exposing some of the Revolution’s biggest weaknesses with what was mostly its B-team.
All six from the night in one convenient package.
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) February 21, 2019
Though New England showed signs of life in the attack early on, Orlando’s attackers found plenty of space, particularly on the fast break. Meanwhile, the Revs gave up an own goal and two penalties, both of which Orlando converted.
“It’s a hard lesson,” added Mancienne, who arrived in New England last summer on a free transfer but is currently the league’s highest-paid defender. “It’s a hard pill to swallow, to be honest. We got to take that lesson and we’ve got to move forward now and pick ourselves up.”
While the players performed poorly, Friedel will likely have his own takeaways as well. His starting lineup featured most of the team’s best players, but he only accounted for one defensive midfielder when the Revs’ style favors a high press.
It’s not like the Revolution haven’t invested plenty of capital in central midfield, too, so the learning lesson here is to use what’s available.
The Revs currently don’t have answers to some key questions, which is not where they wanted to be less than two weeks out from the season opener in Dallas.
Some of these questions include: Who’s the starting goalkeeper? Who’s the captain? Which formation maximizes the team’s attacking talents without leaving the back line in peril? Why hasn’t Juan Fernando Caicedo scored a goal yet? Should Michael Mancienne and Antonio Delamea start together (or at all)?
Is the team any better now than it was last season, or did offseason signings just shift problems to other areas of the field?
New England has two more games to get things right before the season starts on March 2 – first on Thursday against the Greenville Triumph and then Saturday against Iceland’s Reykjavik.