1) How do you feel the New England Revolution, from technical staff to management/ownership, did as a whole in turning things around?
Is the post-2007 rebuild process going along or is the club going/will be through another cycle?
I want to say that the staff and ownership and everything did a decent job, but results are the measure of success, and the results weren't great. The club is definitely improved over last year, so they have that going for them, but top to bottom, I feel they could have done better. That said, I do think it's a process, and this offseason you'll see continued turnover as Heaps takes this opportunity to continue building around the core of players he wants. I wouldn't expect major change, but if you watched this year, a lot of those changes have been ongoing. Shipping out Shalrie Joseph was the major move, and now I think Heaps will be looking to possibly bounce out a couple other key/older players as he truly puts his mark on this team. Next season will be interesting, if nothing else.
2) Player Post-Mortem
a. Who is the best player in the team that the Revs cannot and should not part way with (trade etc..) ?
This is a toss-up between Lee Nguyen and Saer Sene, and I'm tempted to lean toward Lee. Sene was the leading scorer on the squad, and if he hadn't gotten hurt, 15 goals would have been a real possibility. That's tough to replace, and you can't really overvalue it, but the fact of the matter is that I think there are strikers out there for the same money that can do the same things. The Revs have Nguyen locked up at close to league minimum and he's one of the most dangerous midfield creators/slashers in MLS. Next season, with a year in MLS under his belt, I think he'll be poised for a breakout year.
b. Who is the best player in the team that the Revs might/should part way with to get better?
Benny Feilhaber. Benny's talent is undeniable, but he's been awful this season. He somehow managed to produce better under the anti-football that Steve Nicol played last season than this year, when Jay Heaps employed a very free-flowing and attacking style for the first half of the year. A lot has been made of his attitude and lack of leadership qualities as well. This team is undoubtedly better if Benny is on the roster and playing like he can; he just hasn't shown that he wants to do that in New England. If he can't get clicking, it makes the team better to get rid of him. I'd be pretty sad to see that happen, though. We all know how good he really can be when he's in form.
3) Jesse Marsch and Jay Heaps are 2 rookie MLS head coaches with similar profiles (recently retired players).
Marsch has an edge in coaching experience with the US National Team as an assistant coach to Bob Bradley.
Do you feel that Jay Heaps would have been a better coach with some coaching experience in the past?
Undoubtedly. Experience helps everybody. I think if the Revs had somehow managed to land Paul Mariner or Steve Ralston, with Jay as the assistant, New England would have had one of the best coaching staffs in the country, and Jay would have learned plenty under either of them. Even if Jay had come in with just a year or two of experience as an assistant in NASL or something, he'd have been able to handle the adversity that comes with coaching in the top flight. Extended slumps, opposing coaches using frustrating tactics, inconsistent referees - these are all things that you get better at dealing with over time, and having someone to learn from is always beneficial.
4) Following the SBNation MLS tradition:
Predicted starting lineup and score line.
Shuttleworth; Tierney, Soares, Barnes, Alston; Fagundez, Feilhaber, Simms, Rowe; Bengtson, Imbongo
The Revs have been abysmal away from home, I'm gonna have to go with a 2-1 win for Montreal. I hate predicting losses, but I don't see this team pulling out a victory.
Thank you again to Steve Stoehr of the Bent Musket to participate in Three Question for the season finale. You can read my answers to his Three Questions here.