New England Soccer Today

Lineup Change Helps Lift Revs

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – When Jay Heaps looked at the tape of Sunday’s Conference Final first leg match up against the Red Bulls, he sensed that a change to the lineup for the second leg would have to be made in order to keep their adversary at bay.

After watching Red Bulls’ winger Lloyd Sam use his speed to wreak havoc on the Revolution defense until Kevin Alston was inserted at left back and Chris Tierney was pushed up into the midfield, Heaps went with the same approach in Saturday’s MLS Cup final-clinching 2-2 draw.

“We felt when we made that move in New York, it really solidified us and allowed us to be a little bit more aggressive, actually,” Heaps said. “It’s a defensive move, but it allows us to be a little bit more offensive.”

Indeed, that move freed up Tierney, the team’s best crosser, to lay siege on a disheveled New York backline. And that was especially evident on the series-clinching play when he sent a perfect ball to a poorly-marked Charlie Davies, who nodded it through in the 70th minute. It was Tierney’s second assist after setting up Davies on the Revolution’s first goal in the 41st minute.

“Chris can get up as a winger and he can do certain things,” Heaps said. “Unfortunately, we had to take Kelyn (Rowe) out of the lineup. I think Kelyn’s been playing great and he was excellent off the bench tonight.”

It may have been a tough choice for Heaps to leave Rowe on the bench, but the move paid dividends on both offense and defense.

With Tierney providing width and creating chances from his spot in the midfield, Alston matched Lloyd’s pace step-for-step in the rear, and neutralized the Red Bulls’ winger for much of the afternoon. After completing 75.8 percent of his passes on Sunday, Sam’s completion rate dipped to 56.8 percent.

“You put Kevin on him one on one and I don’t think anyone in this league is getting by Kevin Alston one on one,” Tierney said. “I think we adjusted well to it, and obviously it worked out for us.”

Not surprisingly, Tierney wasn’t the only doling out praise for Alston’s efforts on Saturday.

“He’s a lockdown defender,” Heaps said. “He frees up Chris to be a little bit more of a winger and then the service comes in.”

That service was undoubtedly crucial to the Revolution’s success on Saturday. While some may have initially questioned the need to tweak the lineup less than a week after their 2-1 triumph at Red Bull Arena, Heaps knew he could trust two of his most trusted veterans to deliver.

“I think Chris and Kevin, being on our team, the two most senior guys – heck, I had uniforms on when I played with those guys – and having them both out there was really important,” Heaps said.

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