New England Soccer Today

Technically Speaking: #FCDvNE

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

By Rick Sewall

FC Dallas beat the Revs 2-0 last Saturday, in a game a lot like last Wednesday’s game – with FC Dallas taking the lion’s share of prime scoring chances. While the Revs again maintained the ball-possession advantage, this time by a significant 55% to 45% ratio, Dallas was far ahead on all other significant game statistics.

Indeed, it could be argued that the Revs’ only genuine scoring chance was Diego Fagundez’s close-in try in extra time of the second half. Raul Fernandez, the Dallas keeper, saw very little action. Pretty much all he did was make two less than challenging saves (with Patrick Mullins and Kelyn Rowe shooting) and to punch away a pair of Chris Tierney crosses in the 26th and 42nd minutes. He didn’t have to make a diving save or tip a ball over the bar at any point in between the first and final whistle.

Bobby Shuttleworth, on the other hand, was repeatedly forced to come up strong. Andres Escobar’s 19th, 54th, and 69th minute shots are good examples, but he was not the only player to threaten for Dallas. Blas Perez, Matt Watson, Moises Hernandez, and Tesho Akindele all had excellent chances, with Escobar (29th minute) and Akindele (91st minute) actually scoring. And, of course, let’s not forget Bobby’s great save on Diaz in the closing moments of the game – a stop that’s actually up for Save of the Week on All in all, the Revs were fortunate the final score wasn’t similar to that of the LA game. Dallas was as dominant as the Galaxy.

Jay Heaps made several personnel changes to start the game: Charlie Davies for Mullins, Scott Caldwell for A.J. Soares (suspension), Stephen McCarthy for Jose Goncalves (injured), Steve Neumann for Diego Fagundez, and Daigo Kobayashi for Kelyn Rowe. These were appropriate changes for good reasons – to shake up the team after a poorly played LA game and to adjust because of injury and suspension, but they ended up making little difference in the team’s performance.

For the first 15 minutes, before Dallas began to pile up the scoring chances, and intermittently throughout the game, the Revs were able to pass the ball around with a lot of confidence. One reason, I’m beginning to think, that they cannot turn possession into scoring chances is that they simply don’t have enough team speed. With the exception of Teal Bunbury and maybe Davies, if he gets a step back, they just don’t have the kind of explosive speed needed to challenge and beat a defender to the end line before crossing. This deficit was especially obvious when they were playing a team graced by Hernandez, Akindele, Watson, and especially Escobar. This is obviously not be the only way to create chances, but if no one on your team is a threat to do it, life gets a lot easier for opposing defenses.

Andrew Farrell should be able, with his speed, to stop a forward in a 1v1 situation. Maybe not every time, but at least most of the time if we’re talking about a player contending for a national team call-up. He has failed to do so in each of the last three games: Chicago (Quincy Amarikwa), Los Angeles (Gyasi Zardes), and Dallas (Akindele). Against Chicago, Amarikwa’s resultant shot was the game-winner; Zardes’s was stopped by a fine Shuttleworth save; Akindele’s was the second goal against the Revs.

The Galaxy’s loss to Kansas City on Saturday throws further perspective on my last week’s lamentation about the Revs’ deficient man-to-man defense. On Wednesday, Robbie Keane and Zardes torched the Revolution defense. Sporting Kansas City, by contrast, gave the Galaxy nowhere near the time and space they were given by the Revs. As a result, their connection on passes was largely ruptured, and all they could muster was a single goal.

The power shooting technique (or lack thereof) used by Rev players continues to result in over-the-bar and wide shots. In this game, no single Revs shot was struck with any authority and on target. This situation could be greatly improved with a concentrated overhaul in shooting technique, but overcoming bad habits is difficult at best, and impossible if openness on the part of the players to adjustment and change is not there.

One neutral evaluation I read ranked this game’s three stars as 1) Escobar, 2) Shuttleworth, and 3) Akindele. I agree.

More and more I hear fans saying that the Krafts are using the Revs as a tax write-off. I have no idea of the truth of this allegation, but I’d feel better if the Revs would spend more money to acquire new players.

Let’s hope a week’s rest will help vs. Columbus.

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  1. Peter

    July 22, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    Hey there Rick you have to understand the Revs have been like this from day one ie when Mr Burns was playing in defence for the Revs it not going to change the Revs had a lot of LEAN years when they first arrived in the MLS .I think Steve Nichol did very well in the years when he was coach of the Revs while winning the US Cup and bringing the Revs to those MLS Finales .Maybe its time for GM change because some of the players that Mr Burns bought in have not worked out, to me he has been in the origination to long and the Revs need fresh ideas. If the Revs carry on not winning any games we may need a coaching change it could be the Revs players are tuning Heaps out.?? A Revs Supporter from day one ie Stapleton era

  2. rick Sewall

    July 23, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Peter- thanks for the comment. You make a very plausible argument.

    I went to many Frank Stapleton practices, as, in those days of Lexi Lalas and Darren Sawatsky (who is now, I believe, working in some capacity for the Sounders) , you were free to attend. They did a lot, and I mean a lot, of running, and Lalas did not take well to this. One thing is for sure- in about 20 years MLS level of play has gone way up.

  3. Robert

    July 23, 2014 at 9:32 am

    Burns does need to do something. It’s one thing to struggle in several games in the middle of the season , but when your team loses 7 in a row then a shake-up is in order. I have not heard of any Revolution transfer rumors during this window nor any trade prospects. I hope the team has a plan while a play-off spot is still in reach. I always said the team needs a CB to play next to Goncalves.

  4. Ben Saufley

    July 23, 2014 at 10:59 am

    How on *earth* does Shuttleworth get ranked among the best in that game? He got beat near-post twice in what should’ve been easy saves, and his “highlight reel” save was well past the point of no return for the Revs. Most of his saves were right to him, or right to where he *was* if he hadn’t guessed wrong to start.

  5. rick Sewall

    July 23, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    You have a point, but considering all the dead-on scoring chances Dallas had the Revs were lucky to hold them to two goals. They gave him a pretty good workout , and final seconds save shows that Bobby at least is not a quitter. Also, who knows when goal differential may determine whether or not a team makes the playoffs?

    Was the first goal a result of a deflection off of a sliding Farrell? In addition, he was out of position because he should have backed up Barnes more closely. If he had, the goal may very well have been prevented.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I think the liveliness of the modern soccer ball can make a keeper occasionally look bad. It can really swerve.

  6. Peter

    July 23, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    What kind of attitude is Mr Burns giving the Revs fans when he says that the Revs are not doing anything in the transfer MLS window this sound to me a do not care attitude not improving the Revs team Why couldn’t the Revs have pulled some strings like HOUSTON did with Toronto in acquiring Beasley?? In a Bent Musket article today they are asking the fans do you think Davies should start this weekend He has not scored a goal for to 2 or 3 years he’s good at holding the ball what about putting the ball in the net. How about starting Benson & Mullins up top & Knighton in Goal for this weeks game.The Revs are missing a reserve league then they could try out all these combination’s in a live soccer game how about a team in the PDL for next season?????

  7. rick Sewall

    July 23, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    In case you are glued to your computer, I hereby inform you that I will give you a thoughtful response tomorrow. Your plausible questions (as I said in my last comment) require the delay.

  8. rick Sewall

    July 24, 2014 at 9:40 am

    I wonder to what extent Mike Burns is restricted in making player transactions by ownership. If he is, there is a problem with ownership, and if he isn’t, the lack of player deals would be his problem. What role does money play? Very likely a lot.

    Three reasons why Davies didn’t’ do more 1) He is not yet game fit. 2) Being the lone striker didn’t help, and 3) I have rarely seen a more unthreatening group of forwards than the group the Revs put on the field last Saturday.

    Mulluns and Bengtson could work, but neither is explosively fast. At least one of them should be, so I am a little dubious about this pairing.

    The Rev keepers are fairly equal. The coaching staff rates Shuttleworth slightly ahead I would think for good reasons.

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