New England Soccer Today

Wasted Opportunities

Chris Tierney's corner kicks lacked their usual consistency on Saturday. (Photo by CHRIS ADUAMA/

There is a boatload of reasons why the New England Revolution failed to score against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, but perhaps the most disappointing was the poor quality of set pieces. The Revs earned five corner kicks and some dangerous free kick opportunities, but failed to really test New York goalkeeper Ryan Meara with any of them until the last few minutes of the match.

Whether it was Chris Tierney, Benny Feilhaber or Kelyn Rowe taking the corners, the quality just wasn’t there. It wasn’t until the 88th minute, and the Revs fifth and final corner of the night that the team managed to get a shot off a corner and that came off a short pass, rather than a cross.

The Revs other four corners were wasted, most of them going directly to Meara and giving no one a chance to get on the end of them.

“Meara must’ve come up with four or five balls directly to him [off the corner kicks],” said head coach Jay Heaps after Saturday’s match. “That’s not good enough.”

When a team has a starting line-up that features such big targets as Stephen McCarthy (6’ 4”), Shalrie Joseph (6’ 3”), Saer Sene (6’ 3”) and Jose Moreno (6’), it can prove a nightmare for opposing defenses to defend corners and set pieces. That potential advantage is useless, however, when a set piece is wasted by crossing the ball directly to the ‘keeper or over everyone making a run and thus allowing no one a chance to get their head on it.

Feilhaber’s set pieces have been inconsistent since joining the Revs, sometimes delivering great balls into the box, while other times wasting corners by hitting them right at the ‘keeper. Tierney, on the other hand, has generally been more consistent, particularly on corners. On Saturday, however, even Tierney’s corners were off.

Clearly, finding consistency in set pieces is something the Revs must do if they are to be successful this year.  Even when a team struggles to break down an opponent’s defense, set pieces are always a weapon, but not if the delivery is wasted.

Yet, as ineffective as the Revs set pieces were, their crosses from the run of play weren’t much better. A quick look at’s chalkboard feature for the match shows the Revs had zero successful crosses against the Red Bulls despite attempting 11 crosses in open play.

While the Revs have shown clear improvement in their ability to keep the ball on the ground and in better maintaining possession – a strong shift from last season when the team’s attack was often one dimensional down the wings or direct through long balls – failing to pose a threat down the wings and take advantage of their big targets perhaps poses another problem. Providing a threat down the wings in addition to passing through the center, helps stretch a defense and creates needed space.

Heaps has been wise to shift his team away from the one dimensional style of attack that was often seen from the Revs in recent years. But, the Revs still run the risk of being too predictable a team if they lack quality on the wings and attempt to force everything down the middle. A balance is what’s needed to really open up a defense and right now the quality and width down the wings is lacking. And, when things aren’t going well in the run of play, taking advantage of set pieces with quality deliveries becomes even more important.


  1. qqcd

    May 2, 2012 at 6:10 am

    Tierney’s free kick ability is overrated. His corners ARENT consistent

    • rick sewall

      May 2, 2012 at 9:11 am

      Sean is absolutely right. Nguyen is a good start at left wing and Sene up front. Last year we had no one who could challenge defenders with speed and dribbling skill, except Benny but he played midfield. The team sure has a lot of work to do on free kicks and corners. We have enough big guys to sink a ship.

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