Saër Sène #39

Saër SèneWhile waiting for my girlfriend to get out of a meeting, I did this quick 20-30-minute sketch of Saër Sène, #39 for the New England Revolution. You can see the reference photo, which I pulled up through google images on my phone, here. I feel like I achieved moderate success, for a quick sketch. What do you think?

As a (blindingly) white male, I grew up drawing white males, and white women who looked like white males, but probably had some taped-on, lumpy female features. I’ve also been, for a while, really bad at achieving likeness. I really need to do more of these sketches to broaden my range and improve my likeness abilities.

You say you want a revolution…

Ever since I read M. Willis’s expansive and thoughtful rebranding of the New England Revolution, I’ve been contemplating what I’d do with the Revs’ branding if given the chance. I liked a lot of Willis’s thought process, but more than that it sparked my own imagination. So as an exercise I thought I’d try my own hand. This is going to be a lot shorter, but I’m still going to try to explain my reasoning and methods as best as I can. Hopefully it’s interesting, if nothing else. If you’re mostly just interested in the final outcome, just scroll to the bottom.

I love the Revolution, but from day one I’ve been unimpressed by their current crayon-style logo. And last year’s Patriots-themed (down to the pseudo-shoulder-pads) kits were a pretty big disappointment, visually and metaphorically. 1 Still, I’m a Pats fan as well, and if it were toned down and the Revs allowed to grow and thrive on their own, I think I would cherish the connection, the shared theme, between my two favorite teams.

With this in mind, I set out to rebuild the Revs’ logo. I decided that unlike Willis, I wouldn’t change the name or basic identity of the team – I’d just try to solidify it, give it some dignity. I wanted to hypothetically pull the team out of the 90’s, out of the realm of struggling fifth-tier sport and into one of real, top-class professional athletes.

(more…)

Notes:

  1. The team has a hard time fighting its reputation as the Pats’ shunned step-brother, and the Krafts have recently done little to prove otherwise.

Shh, I can’t hear the crickets

I’m not going to talk about the Revolution’s mistakes on the field this season. I think sharper minds than mine have said all that must be said there. There’s enough talent out there to give me hope, and enough mistakes to dash that hope against the rocks, game after game.

What I want to talk about is a bit less measurable, but just as important: the New England Revolution has a serious atmosphere problem, and I think as a new fan, I’m just the person that the Krafts and Major League Soccer need to be listening to. (more…)

Failin’

When I first started watching the Revs, I noticed that – despite having players on the bench who I thought played better, or faster, or more creatively – the Revs would stick with their old standbys and get burned again and again. I began to question why I kept seeing Kevin Alston out there. And Pat Phelan? Zack Schilawski instead of Ilija Stolica? And hey, while we’re at it, what’s so great about Shalrie Joseph? Were these figures of a bygone era, whose coach couldn’t see that they’d outlasted their use?

Over time, I learned why a lot of this was the way it was. Kevin Alston has made some rough mistakes this season, but he’s also one of the fastest defenders I’ve seen in our back line. Shalrie Joseph is a veteran, and tends to make good decisions. The few really bad ones (a back-pass inside the box when surrounded by the opponent? really?) are the exceptions. But more than that, he seems to lead the team well. Games where Shalrie is suspended clearly suffer significantly in his absence. I’m not saying these guys are great, or that they’re terrible – just that I see why they’re out there.

I’m going to gloss over the Serbs (that’s a story for another time), which brings me to tonight, in the 4‒4 draw at Philadelphia. We were up 4‒1 over the Union at the half. In the 58th minute, Stevie Nicol subbed out Rajko Lekić for Pat Phelan. Now, I like Lekić, and I want him to succeed, but he’s obviously had trouble since he got to the Revs. He’s scored more than most, but not enough for his position, or for his reputation. Still! Tonight, he was having a decent night, probably one of his better nights.

And fifty-eight minutes into the game – just thirteen minutes into the second half – Stevie Nicol pulls him for Pat Phelan. The same Stevie Nicol who has let three first-half leads against decent teams slip away in the previous three games. And the same Pat Phelan who needlessly headed the ball past the back line to lead to Houston’s equalizing corner.

What I’ve gathered about Pat Phelan is that he’s a very physical player. I’ve heard him referred to as a “destroyer” type. I like the passion, I like that he’s willing to get right in there, and boy, I really hope he’s OK after that knock tonight – but game after game, it seems like he’s proven more of a liability than an asset. And tonight, he did just that.

When the Nicol pulled off a fuming – and swearing visibly, in English (I hear you man, but what, no Danish? No “јебем ти сунце” maybe?) – Rajko Lekić in the fifty-eighth minute, it betrayed an all-too-familiar tactic for the Revolution: bunkering. Pulling a striker for a deep midfielder invited the Union down to Matt Reis’s corner for the next 40 minutes, and they pounced on the invitation.

But in case that wasn’t enough, Phelan soon took down Le Toux inside the box for a PK. If a bit accidental, it was a clear penalty, and Phelan’s first real impact on the field. From there on, he was clearly desperate to make up for that lost point, and threw himself into every play he could. That ended with the unfortunate kick to the head that saw him taken off the field. This, in turn, left the Revs with ten men on the field. That was, as Taylor Twellman will tell you, a smart choice medically, but ten men is ten men. And we all know how that turned out.

So I don’t blame our defeat on Pat Phelan. I think the decision to break up a successful, pressuring forward line for a reckless midfielder and a clear strategy of bunkering led to our eventual concessions and another embarrassing result. But the moral of this story, for me, isn’t that bunkering doesn’t work – we knew that. And watching Twitter tonight, I’m pretty sure we all knew it was coming, too – although maybe not so in the fifty-eighth damned minute. What I take away from this, tonight, is that while many other players – even struggling ones (I’m pulling for Coria and Nyassi) – have shown their value somewhere on the field, the liability I’ve seen in Phelan this year far outweighs any of his potential benefits.

I think this has become far more of a condemnation than I meant, but I guess I stick by it: what’s the deal with Pat Phelan? Why do I keep seeing him out there? Is it just because we don’t have enough good midfielders or defenders on our bench, or in our reserves? Or am I missing what makes him a first-team player?

Soccer and Me

I grew up in Maine, raised as a Patriots fan. I supported the other regional teams, but mostly only in principle. But I’m not blogging about other sports, so never mind all that. This is just a sort of justification for what I’m about to tell you:

I’m a New England Revolution supporter. I’m a new one, having only started really paying attention in the last year or so. From what I gather, the Revs used to be a pretty impressive team, even if they never brought home that cup. I appear to have come in just as almost all of the heroes have left, and been stuck with this rag-tag bunch of strangers, and the shame of supporting one of the league’s lowest-performing clubs.

More than that, I’m pretty new to soccer. Sure, I played it sometime in elementary school (or was it middle school?), but whatever I learned back then has long-since been filed away permanently somewhere far out of reach. So, watching the World Cup last summer, I basically learned the game from scratch. I’ve read books to catch up, watched whatever games I could, and talked to people who know much more than I do, and often I still find myself in over my head. But sometimes, I feel like coming into this game without the baggage of a childhood with soccer, or a long history supporting clubs all around the world, gives me the advantage of a unique viewpoint.

This viewpoint is probably – at times – horribly, horribly mistaken. But that’s why it’s a blog. I’m thinking that maybe if I put it out there, people will read it, and respond. Maybe sometimes I’ll have something to offer, and maybe sometimes I’ll learn something myself.

Whatever happens, it’s likely to be about the Revs, because I’m a huge homer, so … keep that in mind.