The Impact beat the Revs Sunday night 4-2 in a game marred by a penalty and red card dealt to Rev keeper Matt Reis in the fifth minute. The Revs then had to play a man down for 85 minutes, a more severe problem than the 1-0 deficit they faced after Montreal’s Bernier converted the penalty.
Despite this hard luck start, the Revs played well, especially in the first half. Despite allowing two more goals and playing against a more experienced and skillful team, the Revs had the better of the play until they began to run out of gas about halfway through the second half. The Impact played like an over-30 team (which, for the most part, they are). If I were Impact coach Marco Schallibaum, I would have been tearing my hair out at what appeared to be some fairly casual play. In the first half, the Revs had four corners to none for the Impact, and the Impact were often pressured into giveaways by an aggressive Rev team defense. I counted around six.
Despite their clear awareness of his goal-scoring ability and his style of play, the Revs had a serious problem with the 37-year-old Marco DiVaio. They knew he was an offside specialist (meaning that he may be called off sides four or more times in a row, but the fifth time he won’t be – and he’ll then take the ball, dance with it, and score an elegant goal), but they couldn’t do anything about it. In this game, he did his thing twice on very similar plays, at minutes 45+2 and 55.
What was the Revs’ most serious defensive problem? Central defense. DiVaio ran by José Goncalves (not napping, but offside-trapping) at the five minute mark, received the ball while staying onside, and drew the penalty-area foul by Reis. The referee (justifiably enough) ruled that Reis denied DiVaio a scoring opportunity, hence the red card.
In the 33rd minute, Goncalves knocked Felipe over in the area, resulting in another penalty that was easily converted by Bernier for his second goal of the night. Goncalves should absolutely have made more of an effort to avoid contact, though this was more a 50-50 call on the referee’s part. Soares was completely buffaloed by DiVaio for the two run of play Montreal goals, beaten way too easily by the Italian veteran’s outside of the right foot move. He might have hoped for some help from Goncalves, especially on the second goal, but José merely stood and watched. Caldwell, with the team playing with only 10 men, could have helped out by playing deeper. As a defensive midfielder in the situation the Revs were in, he should consider his main job to be a strong defensive effort.
Once again, the Revs were hurt by too much reliance on the offside trap. Smart, experienced forwards will hurt you if your team resorts to this strategy too often. The harmful effects of the offside trap had some bearing on all four Montreal goals.
Turning to outer edges of the defense, Andrew Farrell could improve offensively if he developed some touch with his crosses and if he learned to shoot with his left foot. He squandered a few opportunities on Sunday. Shooting with the weaker foot is teachable. He has offensive potential and should have scored by now.
Kelyn Rowe probably shouldn’t smirk when disagreeing with refeee calls. Showing up the referee in this manner is not smart soccer. But he scored a very nice goal. Diego will never receive a better return pass than he did from the Montreal defender before he scored. Scoring twice while playing a man down is never easy. Pretty good for the Revs.
I am tired of hearing about a Revolution “team frustration” with calls by the referees. I think that if a team can put all its effort, physically and mentally, into playing the game it will get better results.
If the Revs continue with the effort and passion they showed last night, they should make the playoffs.
Meanwhile, it’s good to be back in the USA.