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Darrius Barnes isn’t going to pretend that everything’s going along just fine for him and his New England Revolution teammates through their first two games of the regular season.

Off to a 0-2-0 start and not a goal to show for it, the Revolution defender acknowledged that there’s room for improvement – and the starters aren’t the only ones who need to do their part.
“We’ve had a little bit of inconsistency going on within the team thus far,” Barnes said. “But I know (that) we need (players) 1 through 27 on this team to succeed, and everybody’s going to have to contribute.”
As one of the senior members on the squad, Barnes knows that the early part of the season doesn’t lend itself to spectacular soccer for many sides. Preseason fare may help coaches fill out the rosters, but they don’t often allow a squad to find the cohesiveness it needs to run efficiently.

That said, Barnes knows there’s work to be done – from everyone. But he isn’t worried about the early-season woes carrying on for much long.

“We’re still figuring out a couple of kinks and wrinkles here and there,” Barnes remarked. “But I have full confidence that this team will bounce back.”

Caldwell Gets Help From Dorman

Sophomore midfielder Scott Caldwell enjoyed a largely-successful rookie year in 2013, playing in 29 games for the postseason-bound Revolution.

While there were plenty of lessons to be learned during his first year in top-flight soccer, Caldwell is always looking to pick up a thing or two from a veteran teammate. And during Saturday’s clash at PPL Park, that veteran was none other than the elder statesman himself, Andy Dorman, who partnered with Caldwell deep in the midfield in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

“I like playing with Andy, (especially) when we’re able side-by-side holding defensively and step out when we can,” Caldwell said. “(He’s) a veteran guy that really talks a lot to me and helps me out, so it’s always nice playing with him.”

Though Caldwell admitted that he and his teammates could’ve done more to challenge the Union attack – which secured the only goal of the game in the 31st minute – he nevertheless credited last Saturday’s adversary for keeping the Revolution on their toes.

“They’re a very good team,” Caldwell said. “(They’re) good in possession (and) we kind of sat in a little bit early on, and hey made it count with their one goal.”

Barnes Reaches the Century Club

It’s often said that just stepping onto the pitch in top-flight is an accomplishment in and of itself. And when a player does it 100 times, it’s a testament to his dedication.

That dedication has certainly paid off for Barnes, a 2009 third-round pick who entered preseason camp during his rookie year with nothing more than a chance to play professional soccer in front of him.

Now in his sixth year in MLS – all with the New England – Barnes was humbled when he learned that last week’s start in Philadelphia marked his 100th career match.

“I think I’m fortunate and blessed and obviously to do something for a living,” Barnes said. “(Doing) something that I love for a living has been fantastic, and for this organization to have trust in me and give me my first professional opportunity - and for me to still be here five years later - speaks volumes about the organization.”

The preseason: it’s often a time of hope, optimism and intrigue as MLS clubs from coast to coast get set to prepare for a new campaign.

One place where all three concepts are alive and well is New England, where the Revolution return to Foxboro only three months removed from their first trip to the postseason since 2009.

While Revolution supporters are abuzz about their club, the front office and coaching staff will soon get down to the nitty gritty of shaping their roster for the upcoming season.

In the third part of our four part Revolution positional preview, we turn our attention to the midfield, where equal parts of promise and uncertainty currently reside.   

Who’s gone: Ryan Guy (option declined), Gabe Latigue (waived), Clyde Simms (option declined), Juan Toja (option declined)

Who’s back: Scott Caldwell (29 games, 0 goals, 2 assists), Andy Dorman (12 games, 0 goals, 1 assist), Diego Fagundez (31 games, 13 goals, 7 assists), Lee Nguyen (33 games, 4 goals, 7 assists), Kelyn Rowe (33 games, 7 goals, 8 assists), Donnie Smith (1 games, 0 goals, 0 assists)

Who’s new: Paulo DelPiccolo (free agent), Steve Neumann (4th overall pick, SuperDraft)

Preseason trialists: Marko Perovic (out of contract), Alec Sundly (31st overall pick, SuperDraft)

Projected starters (L-R): Diego Fagundez, Andy Dorman, Scott Caldwell, Kelyn Rowe, Lee Nguyen

Analysis: The defense may have gotten all the glory during the first half of the 2013 season, but the second half belonged to the midfielders lock, stock and barrel.

After struggling out of the gate, Kelyn Rowe and Diego Fagundez emerged as the Revolution’s most dangerous weapons. On the left, Fagundez combined with Rowe and striker Juan Agudelo often and led the club with 13 goals. Tucked in centrally, Rowe exploited space and unleashed a slew of long-distance shots. Just behind Rowe, rookie Scott Caldwell manned the holding midfielder’s spot  - a tough spot for any rookie – for much of the season, with veteran Lee Nguyen dropping back to help out his young teammate. Ryan Guy, Chad Barrett, Saer Sene and Juan Agudelo all saw time out on the right as injuries, losses of form and tactical switches all conspired against the Revolution at the spot opposite Fagundez.

Although there’s plenty of promising talent to go around, the lineup is far from set in the middle third. Caldwell performed admirably as the #6, but his attacking tendencies left the Revolution vulnerable to the counterattack. Meanwhile, with Guy gone and Sene on the mend, coach Jay Heaps must find a way to fill the right-sided midfielder’s role. One possible solution: Charlie Davies, whom Heaps believes could be more effective out wide rather than at striker.

Preseason battle to watch: Caldwell vs. Dorman/possible veteran newcomer. If the Homegrown product has any intentions of keeping the spot he lost toward the tail end of the 2013 season, he’ll have to beat out Dorman out of camp. Dorman may have claimed the holding midfielder’s role down the stretch, but he hardly played well enough to comfortably call the spot his.

Prediction: The Revolution will bring in a veteran holding midfielder –via trial, trade or transfer – to fortify a midfield that often struggled to hold the ball. After possession dipped into the 30 percent range during the final weeks of the 2013 season, with Caldwell and Dorman doing little to improve that stat, the evidence suggests that the club will have to look outside of Foxboro to find the solution.