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What’s next for the New England Revolution?

Cincinnati forward Kekuta Manneh (31) celebrates his goal with midfielder Emmanuel Ledesma (45) as New England Revolution defender Antonio Delamea Mlinar (19) looks away during the first half at Gillette Stadium.
Mar 24, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; FC Cincinnati forward Kekuta Manneh (31) celebrates his goal with midfielder Emmanuel Ledesma (45) as New England Revolution defender Antonio Delamea Mlinar (19) looks away at Gillette Stadium. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

FC Cincinnati defeated the New England Revolution 2-0 on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. The result extends the Revolution’s winless run to start the season to four games.

Here are three takeaways on what transpired on Sunday:

Now they’re not working hard enough?

In what was certainly the most memorable press conference of the Brad Friedel head coaching era, Friedel, over the course of 13 minutes, offered up a number of hot quotes and also said, repeatedly, that his team didn’t work hard enough for parts of its match against FC Cincinnati.

“…Right now, we got ourselves down in a game, really, because we didn’t work hard enough,” Friedel said in a lengthy response to a question from Pro Soccer USA. “There wasn’t a lot more to it. As a player, whether you liked your coach or your club or all that, it’s an easy thing to do, is to work hard. Anybody in the world, whether you’re Lionel Messi or somebody else, can work hard.”

Central defender Antonio Delamea took the podium before Friedel and struck a similar chord, saying he felt his teammates lacked passion and were not even playing at 50 percent. Teal Bunbury also couldn’t explain why the team showed tremendous fight in its 3-2 loss to Toronto last week but was unable to muster a similar effort at home against a depleted Cincinnati team.

Mar 24, 2019; New England Revolution coach Brad Friedel reacts to a missed opportunity during a 2-0 loss to FC Cincinnati at Gillette Stadium. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

Here’s the question no one, including Friedel, seems able to answer: Why is the team not working hard?

Friedel specifically stated that five to six players did not work hard for parts of Sunday’s game. One would then expect five to six lineup changes for the Revolution’s next game, which is against Minnesota United on Saturday.

Two lapses cost Revolution

Both Cincinnati goals came off two unforced errors. Kekuta Manneh opened the scoring on a play that started from a giveaway off a Revolution goal kick. Kenny Saief doubled Cincinnati’s lead via corner kick that didn’t need to be a corner. Delamea played a loose ball out of play instead of passing out of the back with time and space on his side.

Friedel wasn’t wrong when he said the team didn’t work hard at times – there were elements of laziness in both goals, while in the attacking third the Revs only managed two scuffed shots in the first half and hardly threatened until midway through the second half.

Tactically, though, the Revolution also didn’t seem to have an answer for a fairly basic requirement of winning back possession: competing for second balls. Delamea and Friedel both alluded to this postgame. Two stats help illustrate this deficiency: Cincinnati winning the duels 78-61, and Cincinnati making an incredible 44 clearances to New England’s 12.

A photo worth a thousand words

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Columbus Dispatch, Washington Post and other publications’ beat writers often come to Gillette Stadium, take a photo of the crowd typically filling roughly 15 to 20 percent of a 66,000 capacity stadium and post it to Twitter.

It’s an easy way to get interactions and it’s probably somewhat of a novelty for these visiting reporters, some of whom regularly cover games at packed stadia, to see what Revolution supporters mean by a “cavernous” atmosphere.

Sunday afternoon’s crowd was not only peak cavernous, but also a literal snapshot into what’s plaguing the franchise.

Granted, I took that photo a little more than 3 minutes before kick-off and other fans filtered in, but the announced crowd was 10,605. That’s significantly less than the season average last year (18,347), which was also less than the previous year (19,367), according to Populous.

Yes, it was just New England’s second home game of the season and it came on a Sunday. Attendance could increase once the weather gets warmer or if New England’s long-awaited designated player is a needle-mover, like Jermaine Jones was.

But at present, the situation in New England is looking dire. Friedel is talking about his players not working hard and club president Brian Bilello, again, faced the ire of supporters on social media when he penned a response on Twitter to his team’s poor performance Sunday.

That photo could actually look worse if things keep up. The ball is in management’s court to make sure things change quickly and for the better.

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