New England Soccer Today

Technically Speaking: #OCvNE

Photo credit: Hazel May/Prost Amerika

Photo credit: Hazel May/Prost Amerika

Welcome back to another edition of “Technically Speaking,” where our very own resident coach and former pro Rick Sewall takes a deeper look into the Revolution’s latest performance.

Have any questions you’d like Rick to address? Feel free to ask away in the comments section below.

What do you think led to the Revolution’s late game collapse? What do you think was their most glaring weakness during those final 15 minutes?

Rick: The Revs were completely controlling the game up until Charlie Davies’ 19th-minute goal. This was apparently a wake-up call for Orlando City, as they had the better of the play for the remainder of the first half, and went on to dominate the second. The only major interruptions of this Orlando resurgence came when the Revs hit the post and the crossbar in one quick sequence in the 41st minute, and when Kelyn Rowe scored his opportunistic goal in the 71st minute, the result of a botched Orlando back-pass to keeper Donovan Ricketts. Orlando’s control of the second half – and the workout they put Bobby Shuttleworth through – will be borne out by statistics.

One way at looking at things might be that the Revs, up by two goals after 71 minutes of play, gave the game away by allowing two in the final 15. Another way of seeing it is that, given Orlando’s improvement after the first Rev goal and their second half control of the game, the Revs were fortunate to avoid a loss. I am inclined to favor this second interpretation.

Both Orlando goals were scored by crosses and headers – the first by Cyle Larin in the 75th minute, the second by Aurelien Collin in the 90th. The Revs were simply overpowered in the air, a problem that needs to be addressed by the coaching staff. The Revs should have been marking all potential crossers more tightly – anything to stop the swarm of balls entering their penalty area.

Another problem for the Revs was their inability to sustain their possession game after their 19th-minute goal. Orlando showed that with sufficient pressure a team can disrupt the Revs’ possession game.

After Rowe’s goal, Orlando might have called it a day, as they could have been disheartened, but they refused to go down without a fight, and were rewarded with the tie. The enthusiastic and very loud crowd (over 27,000) had to have something to do with their team’s effort: the fans’ passion helped ignite the team, and in turn the team outdid themselves to avoid disappointing the fans.

What do you make of Jay Heaps’ substitutions?

Rick: Coach Heaps substituted Kelyn Rowe in for Charlie Davis in the 61st minute. Obviously, I don’t know everything that was going on, but I would have kept Charlie in longer because he is simply more dangerous as a goal scorer. The irony of my saying this is that Kelyn went on to score a very nice goal a few minutes later, but outside of that goal, he had very little effect on the game.

I agree with Heaps’ move in the 72nd minute, when he put Kevin Alston in for Juan Agudelo. Juan had a disappointing game – though that seems to me to be mostly because he’s being put in a spot where he can’t play to his full capabilities. As a right-footed left-winger with no effective move to the outside, he almost inevitably dribbled toward the middle of the field into a crowd of opposing defenders. A winger’s first choice should be to dribble toward the end line because often there won’t be a second defender, and a cross becomes possible. This is where a left-footer playing left wing has a distinct advantage over a right-footer at the same position.

At any rate, given that Agudelo wasn’t clicking offensively, a defensive sub with a two-goal lead was a good decision. Long-term, the best solution would be to have a natural left-winger in there in the first place, moving Agudelo more to the middle, where he can be more comfortable and effective.

Diego Fagundez’s entrance into the game in the 86th minute was appropriate too. The team definitely needed the kind of infusion of energy that Diego is capable of supplying. Something had to be done about Orlando’s control of the game, and even though it didn’t really work this time around, the reasoning behind the move was sound.

How would you assess the way Jermaine Jones played at center back this week?

Rick: Considering the fact that he is basically playing out of position he did all right, but Orlando did a good job of exposing his weakness in the air. On Larin’s goal, he was badly beaten because he positioned himself behind Larin, not between him and the middle of the goal. This allowed Larin to cut in front of him for an easy header at goal. Jones may be the shorter player, but he should at least be able to position himself properly.

On the 90th-minute goal, he and Andy Dorman were simply overpowered by Collin, a bulldozer who has been scoring this way for years.

The sooner the Revs can get Goncalves in again at the back and put Jones up to defensive midfield, the better.

Charlie Davies scored for the fourth straight game. What have you noticed about his game over the past four weeks that’s allowed him to stay hot?

Rick: I think Charlie’s consistent goal-scoring is a deserved culmination of his own hard work and the faith the Revs organization have had in him, both past and present, rather than any specific thing he or the team has done recently. If you have talent – and Charlie just plain does – in sooner or later the combination of patience, effort, and skill will pay off.

What stood out the most to you about this match?

Rick:Being a soccer observer who believes firmly that technical expertise will solve the vast majority of a team’s performance problems, I was disappointed by the poor demonstration of shooting by the two big-money players in this game (Jermaine Jones and Kaka), both trained and developed abroad in big-time soccer powers (Germany and Brazil). Jones’s gyrating follow-through on his 16th-minute opportunity from about 30 yards out was as wild as they come. It gave him very little chance of achieving what should have been his primary objective – just hitting the goal mouth.

A controlled follow-through, with the kicking foot pointing in the intended direction of the ball, will mostly result in the shooter hitting the target , and with more power. Why with more power? Because a proper follow-through deploys the hip joint to the fullest, and this is where most shooting power comes from.

Kaka’s shot from 21 yards went way over the crossbar, something that really should not happen (but did) to a player of his caliber. A combination of poor kicking-foot control, bad follow-through (crossed legs), an erect upper body, and lack of focus on the ball resulted in an embarrassing miss from pretty close range.


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