New England Soccer Today

Technically Speaking: #NEvNY

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/capturedimages.biz

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/capturedimages.biz

In what seemed like a continuation of the first playoff game a week ago, the Revs played a solid defensive game #2 and thoroughly deserved the tie that put them into the MLS Cup next Sunday (3 pm, Eastern Standard time) vs. the Galaxy in the Golden State.

Though each team scored in each half, the Red Bulls had the better of the play in the first, the Revs in the second. The Revs clearly gained confidence as the game progressed. Tim Cahill’s goal in the 26th minute was very well taken. Jose Goncalves put in a valiant defensive effort in trying to thwart the Australian striker, to the point that Cahill had to shoot the ball between Goncalves’s legs. Peguy Luyindula’s 52nd-minute goal was a bit lucky. A Lloyd Sam cross bounced off Andrew Farrell’s thigh right to Luyindula, who had an easy push-in to beat Bobby Shuttleworth.

Despite the two goals scored against him, Shuttleworth had an outstanding game. In particular, he saved the game for the Revs in the 88th minute, when he stole the ball off a charging Thierry Henry’s foot. A Red Bull goal at that time would have tipped the series the other way. Though the aggregate score would have been even, the Red Bulls would have had one more away goal than the Revs, and it would have been the Red Bulls playing Los Angeles next weekend rather than New England.

Charlie Davies’ two header goals (in the 41st minute of the first half and the 70th minute of the second) were huge. When shooting from close range, say the penalty spot or closer, players always need to aim for a corner, away from the keeper, who otherwise becomes too much of an obstacle, especially if he comes off his line and cuts down the shooting angle.

Davies has an uncanny knack for heading the ball away from the keeper and into a corner of the goal, no matter how much pressure he is under from the defense. The fact that he executed this not once, but twice, speaks volumes about his skill. Not many forwards can head the ball the way he does.

Jay Heaps’s move of Chris Tierney from left back to midfield was smart. Tierney can terrorize opposing teams with his killer left-footed crosses. It was no surprise that he assisted on both of Davies’ goals.

I have always been a strong believer in the Branch Rickey adage, “Luck is the residue of design,” but in this game the Red Bulls had flat-out blind luck – no design involved – when no Revs managed to capitalize on three disastrous Red Bull giveaways in the 48th, 49th and 50th minutes of the game. Lloyd Sam, Jamison Olave, and Ibrahim Sekagya were the three culprits. Any one of these giveaways could easily have resulted in a critical Revs goal, as practically happened when Davies sizzled a shot just wide in the 50th minute.

With the insertion of Jermaine Jones into the Rev midfield, the final building block for the team as a whole slipped neatly into place. Other MLS teams have benefited from American players coming back from Europe too, but none has lucked out more than the Revs with their acquisition of Jones. He has been the touchstone for the team’s improved – and still growing – confidence in all aspects of play.

On the other side of the bracket, Los Angeles was able to advance to the MLS cup by scoring an away goal on a nice 20-yard shot by Juninho early in the second half. The aggregate goal total ended up even, so Seattle’s failure to score an away goal at L.A. last week turned out to have been the nail in their coffin.

The first half was odd. The Galaxy was in total control for the first 25 minutes when, bang bang, the Sounders suddenly struck for two goals (in the 28th and 32nd minutes) and kept the edge for the rest of the half. The Galaxy recovered in the second half, though. They were able to score the one goal they needed, and then to hang on defensively until the end.

I consider next weekend’s game a tossup, despite the possible advantage the Galaxy may gain from playing at home. It would be great to see the Revs get revenge for the 5 to 1 shellacking the Galaxy gave them last summer.

One Comment

  1. pauloblitzz

    December 2, 2014 at 10:14 am

    LA’s tough but they are no where close to being unbeatable

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