New England Soccer Today

Risk Avoidance Burns Revs

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/capturedimages.biz

If it’s true that fortune favors the bold, then the Revolution might want to become a bit braver this season.

After getting the jump on FC Dallas on Saturday at Toyota Stadium, the locals seemed content to tap the brakes rather than staying on the gas during the second half. But that approach only set them up for failure as Dallas to pressed ahead and scored twice en route to a 2-1 victory, one that featured a 15-4 shot advantage recorded by the hosts.

“There were moments where we were on the front foot in the first half, and we could’ve gotten a second goal there,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps told the media after the match. “I thought (Chris) Seitz made a big save at 1-0, and then maybe at the end there. (But) the game was going well at 1-0, and we didn’t want to risk too much.”

Perhaps the Revolution didn’t want too risk too much because Dallas, a team known for its pace and precision in the final third, was especially capable of turning the tables.

Whatever idea they may have had, it backfired right in their faces. Instead of playing the kind of game that secured them a 10th minute PK goal from Lee Nguyen, New England dropped numbers after the break, and absorbed enormous amounts of pressure. Before long Dallas had the lead, much to the chagrin of Juan Agudelo.

“We pressed a bit better (in the first half),” Agudelo told the media after the match. “I thought we let off the pedal a little bit, but we have to recover at half time, and come out in the second half and keep that going.”

In a sense, the change in mindset – from exerting pressure to absorbing it – wasn’t the worst idea on the world. But instead of staying organized and tracking threats, the Revolution essentially invited Dallas deep into their end. To forward Maxi Urruti, who scored both Dallas goals, it was all he needed to make his influence felt.

“We let up a little bit and we gave them space,” Agudelo said, “which giving space to teams like FC Dallas – they’re always going to punish you.”

That punishment wasn’t pretty, either. Urruti capitalized on not one, but two defensive gaffes despite the fact the Revolution should have been able to snuff out the opportunities with numbers in front of their own goal.

On evening, the numbers were damning for the Revolution: not only were they outshot by an 11 goal margin, they also conceded 13 corners while claiming only four of their own. Giving Dallas room out wide allowed them to whip through a whopping 34 crosses.

It’s hard to say whether the best defense against Dallas would have been a good Revolution offense, which looked sharp out of the gate. Had they stayed on the pedal, who knows whether Urruti still bags his brace.

But one thing was clear to Heaps: his team could have done more to level it in the waning moments.

“At the end of the game, yeah, we needed to be more aggressive,” Heaps said. “Once they scored the second goal from the (77th minute) on, we could’ve done a little bit more.”

3 Comments

  1. Robert

    March 20, 2017 at 9:51 am

    It’s very early in the season. I believe this team will be very good once the line-up gels after some games together. Now, Coach Heaps needs to stay with a line-up and not tinker with it. From what I saw of the game (part of it ), I was very impressed with Kouassi as he was all over the field, and I look forward to what he will be able to do once he reaches full fitness. Heaps also needs to find a way to start Rowe. With he and Teal, we have an abundance of midfielders. I think the team would be better served with Diego coming off the bench as a midfielder or forward depending on the flow of the game. Heaps should also leave Agudelo at forward and Nguyen as an attacking midfielder. The team should be much better with service from Lee to Juan and Kamara, especially with the height of the latter two players. Heaps needs to create a line-up and stick with it.

  2. tom

    March 20, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    I’m still amazed at how un-insightful Coach Heaps’ comments always seem. Also I’d like to have him, the players and the rest of the organization give the phrase “a little bit” a good long rest, as in RIP. I remember Coach Nicol used to say it all the time too. It almost always could be replaced with “a lot” or even “a whole lot”.

  3. tom

    March 21, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    Relying on perfect defense, for 80+ minutes, against Dallas, was not a sound strategy.

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