New England Soccer Today

Technically Speaking

Juan Toja lunges for the ball with Andrew Jacobson nearby. (Photo: Kari Heistad/

Juan Toja lunges for the ball with Andrew Jacobson nearby. (Photo: Kari Heistad/

(Editor’s note: For more analysis on the Revolution’s most recent performance, New England Soccer Today introduces “Technically Speaking,” which will regularly feature former professional soccer player and current coach Rick Sewell, who will give his insight on the technical and coaching side of the game.)

The Revolution lost to what was, at least on Saturday, a better team. FC Dallas’s possession play was superior, and they have more speed.

Although the Revs have the ability to slow the game down and hold the ball, it seems as if this was not their mindset yesterday, at least not in the first half. Far too many wild and long balls were played, to no gain. The Revs’ home field, with its artificial turf, is a problem – it plays too narrow. Both teams gave the ball away again and again. When under pressure in the first half, the Revs seem to have decided to play it safe by using the long ball, but this only turned the game hectic and uncontrolled.

The better long-term solution for the Revs would be to turn their field’s shortcomings to their own advantage. Teams more used to grass (like Dallas) may be unsettled coming to Foxboro. To capitalize on this discomfort, the Revs should practice holding onto a possession game no matter what. They need to be able to slow the game down, playing the ball quickly to feet and passing around the opposition. They connected for several effective passing sequences in the second half this way, leading to some good scoring opportunities, but even then they were all too ready to revert to a fifty-fifty, long-ball strategy.

Juan Toja has the potential to be the team organizer. Positioning him deeper, as they seemed to in the second half, gives him more room for creativity and may be the way to go in the future. To widen the field, they would do well to position two pure wingers or midfielders on their respective sidelines, even with the ball, not running ahead of it.  Playing the ball quickly to their feet will reduce the plague of balls rolling out of bounds.

Defensively, the Revs have to mark better.  If I were Jose Goncalves, I would have positioned myself between the goal scorer and the middle of the goal on Blas Perez’s game-winner, with the idea of giving him no chance to head the ball. They were also lucky that Kenny Cooper’s goal didn’t count.


Rick Sewall played four years at Yale University (1961 to 1965), nine years semi-pro for New Haven City (1966 to 1974), three years on the Connecticut Senior All-Star team (1972 to 1974), one year for the Boston  Minutemen (1975), three years for Framingham Belenenses (LASA League, 1980 to 1982), and many years of over-30 and over-40. He has coached at all levels from kindergarten through college, including Boston Latin High School from 1986 to 1999 and girls’ club soccer from 1991 to 2005 (including two Mass. state championships) and runs camps and clinics focusing on technical training. A USSF B licensed coach, he was taught by, played with, and has coached with and for Hubert Vogelsinger, his primary soccer mentor, for over 40 years.


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