The Revs' home opener was this Saturday against Toronto FC. After an abismal first half that saw Toronto go up on a DeRosario headed goal, a 2nd half Zach Schilawski hat trick propelled NE to a 4-1 win. Great game.
Concerning the actual game, it was another great display of team character, because the first half was seriously worrying. But it was more than an attitude change that won this one. The first half was characterized by kicking the ball as far forward as possible...you know, the usual habit the Revs have been known to fall into once in a while. But they played very very well in the 2nd half. There was some really good 1st touch passing through the midfield, and some great 1-on-1 battles, and running at defenders.
Toronto also totally fell apart in the 2nd half. They sloppily gave the ball away in dangerous positions, they defended horribly, and they just generally looked discombobulated. The final goal, scored by Nyassi, should have been easily cleared. I did not see this train wreck coming at half time.
Schilawski scored three goals in his home debut. Obviously this is good. He also missed a glorious chance for a 4th goal, but you know, it was a very good game for him. The Revs have three players of age 24 years old or less filling some big shoes this season: Seth Sinovic at left fullback, Chris Tierney at left midfield, and Zach Schilawski at striker. I worried about the lack of established players filling in for the departed team leaders, but so far all three of these guys have been really good. The return of Shalrie Joseph really helped this time too.
Concerning off-the-field things: the Fort underwent a few changes this offseason. The top few rows of seats were tarped off, but it was widened to include seats in an adjascent section. The idea was to morph the section in a way that placed more people closer to the field, and probably to make it appear fuller. They also moved family season ticket holders from those sections to a section on the other side of the field, in an effort to promote the young, loud, core soccer audience in the supporters section. These changes worked. It was a hell of an atmosphere. What a way to spend a Saturday.
The other main off-the-field comment I have is that we weren't allowed to start tailgating in our assigned parking lot until 5:30 (the game started at 7:30). There were other lots we probably could have gone to in order to start earlier (we arrived around 4:30-4:45), but we were given parking passes to this one particular lot, Fidelity West, and it's right up close to the stadium and we just decided to stay there. There was a guy who came around on a golf cart to tell us to pack it up around 5 o'clock, because we didn't know about the 5:30 rule at the time; he came back at 5:10ish when he saw that we had carried on grilling. At that point we packed up and waited in the car for 20 more minutes. It was fun, thanks.
**EDIT: I've just been told that tailgating has always been restricted to 2 hours before gametime in all lots...apparently we've accidently broken that rule a couple times in the past...I'd like a 3-hour window, personally, but that's a story for another day.
It was a very successful home opener, all things considered. There were between 12 and 13 thousand fans, which isn't catestrophic, although it's below the average from two years ago. The quality of the fans in the Fort made me feel better about the overall attendance number.