United Post Mortem | Questions for Tommy

All right, we've had a night to reflect, we've seen the post-game interviews, and it's time to pose a few questions...

(1) Tommy lays the blame on Simms for the double swap at halftime, claiming he wouldn't have made the Quaranta for Burch move if he knew Simms couldn't go in the second half. Fine, that gets you off the hook for not having a sub available when Jaime came up gimpy (though one could also claim that we then wouldn't have had anybody with sufficient dead-ball quality on the pitch to deliver the cross that Olsen nogginned in for the equalizer, neh?).

But that still begs the question: why Burch? I had assumed that it was due to his carelessness in possession in the first half (I would have had words, not yanked him for that), but Tommy's comments seem to indicate that he thought Burch was doing just fine. So why pull him? Wallace's speed was causing the Revs problems on that flank. Putting him in the back three negated that threat. Perhaps Tommy thought he needed Wallace's fleet feet to counter Nyassi? I'm still not convinced that you need to break up a back three that wasn't giving up much in the first half. Maybe Burch's big body and greater professional experience as a defender does better on that cross than Wallace? We'll never know.

Still, I will admit that, after we finally got going in the wake of the goal (pre-Gomez-injury), we certainly looked far more likely to score than we did in the first half, with Pontius and Moreno both failing to capitalize on golden chances. Was Tommy just unlucky? That still doesn't explain...

(2) Why are we losing these key moments in the game? Soehn has taken pains to identify that we're coming up short in those critical junctures on either side of half-time and late in the game. True, we did manage to "win" the last five minutes this time around, but we got caught out in the wake of halftime. That doesn't speak well for Tommy's motivational techniques and prompts another question: is it better to try and make an immediate change to capitalize in those key moments, or do you stick with what's been working fairly well for you until you get through that patch, and then make the change if things aren't looking so rosy?

I've been critical of Tommy in the past for failing to make changes quickly enough, but in this instance, I think he jumped the gun. If he thought Burch was doing fine and that we just needed a bit more attacking threat, why not have words with the team, encourage them to really come out with guns blazing in the second half, and then pull the trigger on the swap if things aren't working out so well?

Note that this criticism is based entirely on this specific team and in this specific game. Let's get this straight: if we had a team full of guys ready to go 90, I would have had absolutely ZERO problem with Tommy making that early change--it's a poe-tay-toe, poe-tah-toe issue of when you think the swap might prove most effective. Where I think he jumped the gun was in using a sub for a guy that's probably going to make the full 90 without issue, while leaving three guys on the field who might not. Calculated risk or coaching myopia? I'd probably lean towards the former and even give Tommy a pat on the back for trying to be proactive were it not for this news from the Goffster.

(3) Avery John? Really? We're going to add another old soldier, and a thuggish one at that, who hasn't really impressed in USL1 lately? So who gets bumped? Does Pontius' early success make Boyzzzzz surplus to requirements? Their finishing is certainly in the same unreliable category. Maybe we've figured out that Peters isn't going to cut it at the MLS level? His presence on the bench suggests otherwise. Or did Doe find his way back into Tommy's doghouse?

Likewise, doesn't this indicate that the 3-5-2 is here to stay? John was effective, if not pretty, on the left side of the Rev's three-man back line that had so much success over the last few years. In a four man back line, I think we've got better options in Burch and Wallace because of their attacking qualities, but John probably pips them in a three-back set and prevents us having to push Namoff onto the left. But what does this mean for Burch? I don't see him playing wide mid in a 3-5-2. Is he just depth now? Another failure to develop a promising young talent in the Soehn era?

So what about you? Any questions for Tommy? Want to take a stab at answering any of the hand-wringing queries above? Fire away.


  1. I like Avery John. He was solid for New England and played well for T&T. I don't know what he has left in the tank at this point, but if he adds some grit on the left, then that's okay.

    I like Boyzz, but his chance for playing time is starting to look slim with Wallace, Pontius, Fred, Santino and even McTavish or Burch able to play on the flanks and three of those same guys able to play up top along with N'Silu, Moreno, Doe and Emilio. An extra defender with some league experience is not a bad addition.

  2. You may be right about the 3-5-2 if they bring on John. If they do go to a 4 man backline when Janiki returns, I think Wallace is a better fit on the left. It doesn't look good for Burch. He may be looking at alot of pine time.

  3. The popular opinion is that it will be Khumalo who gets dropped in favor of Avery John. But there's only one player on the senior roster who's yet to play one minute and that's Anthony Peters. Dropping Peters makes more sense to me. Because with Namoff, Jakovic, Janicki, Burch, McTavish, Wallace, and John, we've now got 7 starting quality defenders. Peters is just extra depth that's now expendable.

  4. @Shatz
    Agreed about replacing a defender, like-for-like, with John for Peters (a 25 year old with no pro experience?), though I do wonder why Boyzzzzzzzzz didn't make the bench Friday night. It could have been cautionary (typical Tommy), with Peters available if we throw Janicki on and he can't hack it. That said, it wouldn't shock me to see Soehn replace a player with attacking flair and speed with a thug defender, cause we're in no way suffering from a lack of pace in attack (/sarcasm).

    Once a thug defender, always a thug defender. Birds of a feather, and all that...