For the first time since their win over DC United on May 24th, the Revs dominated a game, crunching a pretty good Colorado team 3-0. The way the Revs played in this game shows that they can be a handful for any MLS team on any given night.
They were in control for practically the whole 90 minutes by constantly putting pressure on the Colorado back line and playing an almost flawless defensive game. The Rev defenders never got outrun the way they were in the Dallas game, they generally maintained better defensive positioning, and the offside trap (when they used it) was much more cleanly executed. They were able to trap Gabriel Torres, the Panamanian international, five times.
Lee Nguyen was clearly the man of the match, both for all-around smart and aggressive play and for his contribution to all three Rev goals. It was his shot that Colorado defender Drew Moor “cleared” into the Rapids goal in the 10th minute – which was later credited to Nguyen on Thursday. He scored another in the 75th, on a Higuain-like free kick. And three minutes later, his pass to Kelyn Rowe sealed the Rapids’ doom.
Nguyen also had a lot to do with the Revs’ possession superiority, especially in the first half, and was absolutely the controlling player on the field. It was a stellar individual performance on his part – but at the same time I would fault the Rapids (players and coaching staff alike) for giving him the freedom to penetrate the defense that they did. Their goal should have been to put heavy enough pressure on him to limit him to lateral or backward dribbling or passing.
The Revs, as a team, were basically a step ahead of the Rapids, both physically and mentally, for the whole game. I have rarely seen them more energized. In the 44th minute, they had one offensive sequence where they lost the ball three times but each time were able to repossess it immediately – all in about 15 seconds. Aggressive, never-say-die play like that will make any coaching staff happy.
The Rapids tried to get back into the game in the second half by subbing in some offensive guns in Dillon Powers (57th minute), Dillon Serna (63rd minute), and Vicente Sanchez (68th minute). Any chance of this working for them fizzled away when Thomas Piermayr was red-carded in the 74th minute. Playing down a man very clearly rattled the trailing team, and Nguyen’s and Kelyn Rowe’s goals followed soon thereafter. All in all, the Revs were more dominant in the second half than in the first.
Charlie Davies started his first home game for the Revs and looked very promising, despite flubbing a great opportunity in the 61st minute after receiving a nice back-heel pass from Rowe. He waved at the ball with his left foot, swinging in a circle from the hip when he needed at that range to lock his ankle, take a short, very quick swing (mostly from the knee joint) and drive the ball with his instep.
Diego Fagundez had a problem in the 39th minute when confronted with a fairly open opportunity about six yards from goal. Because of a sliding defenseman, his left foot (which he doesn’t like anyway) wasn’t a high-percentage choice, leading him to toe the ball way over the goal. He might have done better pushing it in with the inside of his foot.
All in all, the Revs – both players and coaches – should be congratulated for their diligent, back-to-basics game preparation, and for the enthusiasm, positive energy and confidence they were able to muster in face of a potentially demoralizing losing streak. They were, in a phrase, loaded for bear. They deserved both the win and the happy sense of achievement I imagine they’re feeling today.
Watching the Red Bulls play (as we will on Saturday) is always fun because, in almost any game, Thierry Henry will show opposing players something they have never seen before and probably never will see again. I look forward to it and hope the Revs stay as defensively sharp for that game as they were last night.