(W)Revs Wrap: Battle in Baton Rouge

It's a bit under the radar, what with the U.S. v. Guatemala game airing tonight, but the New England Revolution (shockingly) wraps up it's preseason work tonight with a warm-up against the Professional Development League's New Orleans Shell Shockers. A couple of write-ups appear in the local press, one a straight preview and the other a preview-cum-profile of a local player named Josey Portillo.

The latter contains a great line, from Portillo, about what it's like for soccer minnows to play a Major League Soccer (MLS) club just eleven years into the top-flight's existence:

"It's going to be kind of like a dream going against an MLS team."

As one who routinely fantasizes about showing up to open tryouts, (much) less to make the team than to fully appreciate how much better those players are than I'll ever be, I can appreciate where Portillo is coming from.

Regular readers of this space (and stray comments on BigSoccer boards know that the relative weakness of the Revs' preseason opposition is something of a going topic for me. Given that, I'll only say that the Revs are hardly testing themselves on this one. To begin, the New Orleans Shell Shockers hardly stand tall on the domestic scene, competing as they do in what amounts to the American fourth division. More to the point, they haven't had a good year since 2003, when, by a count of the number of wins showing, they looked to have done pretty well.

Subsequent years have been less kind: 2004 saw them finish 40th of 54 teams; they improved in 2005 to 36th, but, last year, the compiled a record in the PDL better than only nine teams (I didn't bother counting the number of teams...sorry).

The point of this slagging has less to do with the Shell Shockers - to whom I wish all the luck in the world - than it does with the Revs' curious preseason choices. Anyone else out there think Nicol might be concerned about building up the confidence of his newer players, several of whom he'll no doubt have to play during the upcoming season? I've heard worse ideas if that's the case, but, clearly, a risk of backfiring pertains.

Oh, and Joe Franchino took a leave of absence from the team for unstated reasons. The article reporting this mentions his recent run in with the law, which kind of posits a link between the two. Wonder if that's justified?

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