Revs' Twellman returning to form
When Revolution fans see his face plastered over promotional billboards in the New England area, they tend to forget that striker Taylor Twellman is starting his fourth season in MLS.
The young striker experienced an injury-filled third season. Never fully healthy, Twellman tallied only nine times in 2004. But the form reminiscent of his first two seasons has returned this year, as four goals and three assists early in the campaign have announced his triumphant return.
Revolution manager Steve Nicol contends that Twellman continues to improve as his game matures.
"Taylor's been in the league for three years," said Nicol. "He's still learning his trade. It takes a while. He's holding the ball up better. He's gotten better. It's not easy when he has got a 6-3 hairy nasty up his backside."
For his part, Twellman acknowledges that his game still needs improvement. Known for his "fox in the box" mentality, Twellman has improved this season in his possession and combination play.
"Steve and [assistant coach] Paul [Mariner] keep telling me that I need to complete my game," said Twellman. "I need to be a complete center forward. People forget that I have been injured for a year and a half."
Various ailments, including walking pneumonia, hampered Twellman in the past couple of season. The problem is magnified by the physical abuse he receives from opposing defenders.
"As a center forward, you have to be ready to take your whacks," said Twellman. "When you're working hard and taking it, I won't complain unless it is dirty."
The emergence of Clint Dempsey and Pat Noonan in the past two seasons has shifted some of the defensive punishment away from Twellman, as teams now have four or five focal points to track in the Revolution offense.
Even if his goal tally eventually suffers, Twellman finds the new-look run and gun Revs more enjoyable than previous incarnations.
"It's the evolution of the team," said Twellman. "I still have [four] goals and three assists. There are five or six guys on this team who are threats to score. It's a lot more fun now. When four or five players can score, defenders are struggling. When it was just me, they could focus on one player."
Twellman's focus does not rest on the Budweiser Golden Boot. A singular team goal proves more alluring.
"I'm not in soccer for goals or awards," said Twellman. "I want to get to the championship game."
Kyle McCarthy is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.