New England Soccer Today

Five Things We Learned: #NEvPHI

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Blame it on Ed Sheeran. Or Andre Blake. Take your pick.

For the second straight weekend, the Revolution’s postseason destiny was put on hold after the locals were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw to the Union.

Saturday’s match took place on a pitch that played like pavement, and looked like a multi-use community field. The former was due to the concert Sheeran performed at Gillette Stadium the night before. The latter? Apparently, there’s some other team that plays football in Foxborough.

As if the flattened and unflattering field wasn’t bad enough for all parties involved, the Revolution were rejected repeatedly by Philadelphia’s backup keeper, Andre Blake. The former UConn star collected a club-record 10 saves to single-handedly (often times, literally) pocket a point from a game that the City Islanders, er, Union probably didn’t deserve.

So what else did we learn about the Revolution’s futile attempt at securing their postseason future?

1. Unlike earlier last week, the Revolution’s were far from five-star efficient on Saturday. It’s probably not a stretch to say that no team in the east did more with less between Sunday and Wednesday of last week. During their first two games of last week’s three-game gauntlet, the Revolution fired seven shots on target. Five of them went in. Okay, four, since Damien Perquis’ OG wasn’t an official shot on target for the Revolution. But that’s beside the point! The point is, yes, the Revolution were really that thrifty against Toronto and New York. But it was a different story against Philadelphia. On a night in which they put 11 shots on target, only one found the back of the net, and it was from the spot. A virtual freebie. In other words: zero goals from the run of play. At home. Against the Union. As good as Blake was, a team playing for a postseason berth just has to be better.

2. Sometimes, the field can be too fast. It’s been said and written many times over the last few years that the Revolution are at their best when they play with pace. Speed of movement and thought has been the locals’ bread and butter during the Jay Heaps regime. Quick passes, rapid runs, ball in the back of the net, Charlie Davies does the stanky leg, or Diego Fagundez makes a heart with his thumbs and index fingers: that’s how the Revolution roll. On Saturday, though, we were confronted with a revelation: like in life, sometimes too much of a good thing can be bad. Thanks to the freshly steamrolled field, the ball got the jump on the front four a number of times during the first half. Although the Revolution’s passing accuracy wasn’t terrible, Heaps later said his side had problems with the flattened pitch, which led to poor touches and heavy passes. Pro tip: poor touches and heavy passes are the best way to leave points on the pitch at home against a ninth-place team.

3. Dominating the corner kick stat doesn’t necessarily equal victory. Longtime soccer scribe Paul Gardner once proffered that the fairest way to determine a winner if extra time couldn’t do it was to tally corners instead of going to penalties. The idea: the team that attacks the most is likely to earn more tries, and thus, should be rewarded when it’s all said and done. Perhaps that’s the voice the Revolution heard as they regularly visited the corner flags on Saturday. By thrashing the Union 14-0 in the corner kick column, there’s no doubt that their intent was always there. But as we all know, intent alone isn’t enough. It’s about banking on the opportunities set before you. The Revolution had one job on Saturday. One job. And they couldn’t get it done.

4. The Gillette Stadium grounds crew should paint football lines on the pitch prior to every Revolution game. Before you hurl that brick in our direction, consider this: who had the biggest beef about the football lines? Union coach Jim Curtin. Yes, the opposing coach. While the surface looked terrible from pretty much every vantage point, Curtin’s comments alone are proof that the visuals upset the Revolution’s foe, even if only slightly. Seriously: the visuals. Forget the state of the turf: it just looked bad. That was enough to divert the opposing team’s focus. Query: Doesn’t this actually help the hosts? When the Revolution talk about making their home grounds a fortress, they shouldn’t overlook anything that throws their opponent off – even the ghastly sight of a painted gridiron. We kid, of course. But it’s worth noting that the locals are unbeaten (3-0-1) in their last four on the football field, including a pair of playoff wins.

5. If it wasn’t for bad luck, the Revolution wouldn’t have had any luck at all this weekend. It’s one thing for the second-best team in the east to settle for a home draw to the second-worst team. It’s another thing when not one, but two, out-of-town games that could’ve allowed the Revolution to clinch with said draw go the exact opposite as planned. Not only did an Orlando City loss not happen, but they throttled the top-seeded red Bulls in the process. While a New York City loss wouldn’t have given the Revolution the berth after the fact, the sheer MLS-ness of them beating the Whitecaps in Vancouver reminded us all that Lady Luck can be a cruel, cruel woman.

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