New England Soccer Today

Breaking Bunkers is Hard to Do

Photo credit: Jeff Bernstein

Photo credit: Jeff Bernstein

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – DC United coach Ben Olsen knows a thing or two about the way the Revolution attack operate. Since making his head coaching debut against the very same Foxboro outfit six years ago, he’s seen enough of the locals to know what makes them tick – and how to dismantle them, too.

On Saturday, Olsen saw to it that his squad to dropped numbers, plugged the lanes, and kept the likes of Lee Nguyen, Diego Fagundez, and Teal Bunbury in front of them. And despite a few close calls, the tactic worked to perfection.

“Their offensive (front) six, they didn’t get enough room for some time,” Olsen said. “I think you see their relationships on the ball are better than ours at this point, they are also at home and they are used to this turf. This turf is not fun. It is very difficult to come here and get a result, so that part I’m happy about.”

The approach was similar to the one employed by Union coach Jim Curtin during a Sept. 26, 2015 clash in Foxboro, one which saw Philadelphia park the bus and hold on for a 1-1 draw. Impact coach Mauro Biello went with a similar gameplan in an Oct. 17, 2015 clash that saw the Revolution fall 1-0. Both bosses made mention of the Gillette Stadium turf as factor following the match.

During the Revolution’s last four home affairs, the offense has only collected three goals. Following each of those contests, the opposing coach noted the difficulty in playing on the artificial turf, something that likely influenced their tactics with the Gillette Stadium surface sure to play role.

While Olsen didn’t specifically say that the turf influenced DC’s gameplan, it was clear that holding the ball on a far from forgiving surface wasn’t a high priority for the guests. The Revolution dominated the overall possession stat with a 59.6 percent figure, and outshot DC 18-7.

The only thing that mattered, though, was the scoreline, which DC kept unblemished, a development that coach Jay Heaps hoped to avoid by telling his team not to give into making hasty decisions.

“We preach patience all week and like I said, you’re not going to get through them every time,” Heaps said. “That’s the reality of having a lot of guys behind the ball, but we still got in.”

They may have gotten in when Nguyen hit the bar in the 55th minute. Ditto when Kelyn Rowe missed the far post in stoppage time. But neither resulted in a goal, something Olsen was particularly pleased with considering the 4-1 defeat his squad suffered only six days prior at LA Galaxy.

“We were just more disciplined (on Saturday),” Olsen said. “I think we bailed each other out, it was more of a ‘what if?’ mentality. ‘What if the [guy] next to me doesn’t make that play?’ ‘Am I in a spot to help him?’ I think that ultimately gave us a lift, as we were laying out, blocking shots, a lot of those little things start to add up over 90 minutes. This is not what we come in for, but certainly we’ll take the point.”

The little things certainly did enough to unnerve the Revolution, who passed on a pair of prime opportunities to score. Call it bad luck or rust, but the Revolution’s lack of precision only aided DC’s cynical approach to Saturday’s match.

“It’s very difficult to keep them off the board,” Olsen said. “We’re happy with the point. It was gutsy. It was a gutsy performance from us, but again, they are a good group.”

One Comment

  1. Peter

    March 14, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    Re another striker WHY don’t the REVS try and make a trade 4 Pat Mullins with NY City they cannot rely on Davies all the time to put the ball in the net

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