New England Soccer Today

Revs vs. Union in a Nutshell

The Union midfield did well to silence Fernando Cardenas and the Revolution’s midfielders. (Photo: Walter Silva)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — A game to forget for the both the New England Revolution and the Philadelphia Union. A dour 0-0 draw where neither team really showed a desire to score a goal or put the opponent on the back foot.

It took 66 minutes and a tame Kevin Alston shot for the Revolution to test Philadelphia goalkeeper Zac MacMath. For all the poor play and lack of creativity the Revolution showed, the Union weren’t much better, despite registering seven shots on net. Except for a chance when Antoine Hoppenot found himself 1-v-1 with New England goalkeeper Matt Reis at a poor angle after the second half kicked off, the Union didn’t have any clear chances to get on the scoreboard itself.

The way the game went — slow, full of poor challenges, shirt-pulling and an empty nest of creativity — there were four small stories that dictated the outcome for both sides.

  • New England’s poor passing vs. Philadelphia’s ball retention: Want to know why New England didn’t create any real chances on goal? It completed 68 percent of its passes on the night; a dismal number for any professional team. Philadelphia did what good road teams do and completed almost double the passes as New England (487 to 247) and retained the ball, even if it meant passing it around the back, taking any momentum out of the game.
  • Pressure in the midfield: What allowed Philadelphia to keep possession was it’s pressure in the middle of the field. The Union didn’t allow either Clyde Simms, Benny Feilhaber or Ryan Guy when he came in for Simms any time on the ball in the middle of the field. With three against two in the middle of the midfield, Feilhaber (who had a good game), Simms and Guy had to work to find space and couldn’t get on the ball as much as they wanted. The pressure cut out the release valve for the defense and forced them to play the ball over the top. “I think we weren’t patient with the ball enough,” said Lee Nguyen after the game about the Revs inability to pass the ball. “We didn’t spread it around, played a little too direct and played into their strength. “
  • A shutout for New England, a leaky defense that shifted bodies around and kept Philadelphia at bay: Stephen McCarthy was the only starter in his natural position in the New England defense, but the Revs played as a unit and got its first shutout since the July 21 0-0 draw with Sporting Kansas City, six games ago. Kevin Alston moved to left back. Darrius Barnes came in for the injured A.J. Soares. Flo Lechner started at right back. And the Revolution held a clean sheet, slowing down Philadelphia’s midfield runners and covering well for one another. “I think there was more communication throughout the back and the midfield,” said Nguyen. “It was a lot better, I remember the last time we played them they kind of diced us through the middle. I think we did a lot better with Benny, Clyde and Ryan coming in the second half. it just wasn’t clicking for us in the second half today.”
  • The Union’s lack of a goalscorer: Philadelphia’s roster currently includes only two players who have more than 10 goals in their Major League Soccer careers: Freddy Adu, 17, and the injured Chris Albright with 11. Unused substitute Gabriel Gomez is the team’s leading goalscorer with five goals in 19 appearances (15 starts) for the Union. The lack of a true goal-scoring threat showed throughout the night. Philadelphia owned possession for close to 65 percent of the game, had 18 attempts on goal — seven of which were on target — and had nothing to show from it. The Revolution’s defense looked improved from Wednesday’s collapse against Chivas USA, but Philadelphia lack of  a goal-scoring threat helped matters, a lot.

Stat of the night: 64, the percent of passes the Revolution completed in the second half.  Any professional team would be disappointed by this completion rate.

Quote of the night: “They played five in the midfield.” Revolution coach Jay Heaps talking about what the Union did to stymie the Revs in the midfield.

Bobblehead Night!: The Revs are 1-2-1 on Bobblehead giveaway night at Gillette. Diego Fagundez is the sole winner of “player who bobbles and wins”. Shalrie Joseph (now of Chivas USA) and Matt Reis both lost. Feilhaber, tonight’s bobblehead, got the draw.


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