New England Soccer Today

Technically Speaking: #SEAvNE

Photo credit: Brandon Bleek/Prost Amerika

Photo credit: Brandon Bleek/Prost Amerika

Seattle beat the Revs 3-0 quite convincingly Sunday, but I’ll lay odds this score was a result of which team had their big guns playing.

The Revs certainly didn’t have two of theirs, with both Jermaine Jones and Lee Nguyen sidelined by injuries. The Sounders did, and even though they didn’t have Ozzie Alonso at their disposal, that didn’t stop Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins (last year’s league MVP runner-up) from shining throughout the game. Guatemalan Marco Pappa also stood out, showcasing vision, skill, and nifty playmaking and defensive talents.

Still, I bet that the game would have been quite different, even perhaps with a different outcome, if the Revs had been at full strength. Playing at Gillette Stadium, as we saw last season, probably would’ve helped, as well.

The Revs displayed early-season mistakes, mostly involving sloppy play in their own penalty area. The proper position for marking an opposing attacker is to put yourself between the player you are marking and the middle of the goal, about arm’s length away, no ball watching – pay equal attention to the ball and to the man you are marking!

In the 18th minute, Juan Agudelo was very careless in giving Chad Marshall a free header that went just wide of the goal. This faux pas, combined with his tripping of Dempsey for a penalty shot (well-converted), suggests that Agudelo, even as a forward, needs to brush up on some very basic defensive techniques.

Andrew Farrell continues to have difficulty with defensive marking. He needs to realize that, if you’re a half-step out of position, you’re totally out of position. On Martins’ 41st-minute goal, though, he was way out of position and unaccountably late in running with Martins before the header.

The third Seattle goal, resulting from yet another failed offside trap (a pet peeve of mine, as anyone who read my columns last year may remember), made the whole defense look bad. Someone should have run with Martins before he received the through ball from Pappa. Doing so would have at least reduced Dempsey’s chances of scoring.

Last fall, I sat in the Fort at a Revs game and had a great view as the players took shots to warm up goalie Bobby Shuttleworth. All the shots were taken near the edge of the penalty area and were struck with the inside of the big toe or foot, with an attempt to curve the ball around Bobby and into the goal. This is one valuable method of shooting the ball. It is not only effective during the run of play (I call to mind Teal Bunbury’s left-footed curve-ball goal of last season), but it is also essential for almost all types of set pieces.

Nonetheless, here is a suggestion. The Revs, while warming up the goalkeeper, should mix in some shots from about 30 yards away, using the full instep and full straight-on follow-through, focusing on shooting the ball as low as possible and on-target, and not concerned with aiming for the corners (in the run of play, goals will result from deflections and from slight mis-hits, causing the ball to end up in a corner). Ideally, the ball should also be struck with top-spin, causing it to dip. This will be valuable shooting practice for the Revs and add a valuable element to the goalie’s warm-up, as keepers can easily be handcuffed by a dipping ball.

In soccer, goals are difficult to come by. To cash in on their scoring chances, teams should be comprehensive in their approach to mastering all shooting techniques.

An example from Sunday’s game was Diego Fagundez’s 52nd-minute shot. With good technique, it could very likely have been on target, even a goal. His upright body position and poorly-executed follow-through sent it wide instead. If that ball had gone in, it would have meant a lot to the team and even more to Diego’s self-confidence.

After Sunday’s disappointment, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of challenge expansion side New York City FC poses to the locals.

One Comment

  1. Jose

    March 11, 2015 at 9:04 am

    I think the Revs offense made it harder on their defense with the constant turnovers, Seattle pounced on those with quick counter attacks. Bad enough the defense had to cover Dempsey and Martins, but give them more attacking opportunities than necessary? That’s just my view on this game

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