New England Soccer Today

Technically Speaking: Revolution at Dynamo

Lee Nguyen (left) nearly netted his second goal of the season on a 37th minute free kick against Houston on Saturday. (Photo: Chris Aduama/

Lee Nguyen (left) nearly netted his second goal of the season on a 37th minute free kick against Houston on Saturday. (Photo: Chris Aduama/

The Revs beat Houston 2-0 last night, adding a critical three points to their total. Considering both teams’ respective positions in the standings, the win was more important to the Revs than the loss was to the Dynamo. Give the Revs a lot of credit for achieving this result away from home and against a very good team. When you come out loaded for bear (as we used to say in my handball days), your chances of winning are always pretty good. The Revs made only one serious gaffe — in the 23rd minute when they failed to mark Giles Barnes on the corner. I’ll settle for that almost anytime.

The first half was even. The Revs started out strong, but Houston got two excellent chances in the 23rd and 30th minutes and ended the half with four corners to none for the Revs. Having both Lee Nguyen and Juan Toja on the field at the same time gave a major boost to the Revs’ possession superiority: 55% to 45%. Dimitry Imbongo must be credited for the two half chances he created—one following a beautiful pass from Nguyen—before his efforts were cut short by a red card.

At the beginning of the second half, I suffered an almost surreal sense of dislocation: for a few golden minutes I thought I was watching Barcelona, the way the Revs were playing. Diego’s goal was a pip, and a well-deserved climax to all the intricate passing. Give Clyde Simms full credit for an elegant assist. I always tell my players that, done right, the passing game will lull the opposition to sleep, till you can strike like a snake. The Revs proved my point last night.

From that point on, the main issue for the Revs was protecting their lead. The Dynamo got several good chances, but so did the Revs—namely, in the 69th and 70th minute when Nguyen nearly scored on a couple of good shots. I was a little worried that the Revs were going into a defensive shell too early to protect a one-goal lead, especially when defensive substitutions took both Toja and Diego Fagundez off the field. But what works, works. The Revs got their cushion in the 84th minute on a well-earned goal (even if it was of the “own” variety). More Houston chances then followed, but a stout Rev defense held firm.

Poor shooting technique was a problem for both teams. Two very good players, Nguyen and Will Bruin, are two (of several) that I fault. After shooting a free kick in the 37th minute, Lee was closer to falling backwards than moving forward and showed almost no follow-through. If the ball is shot properly, the shooter can put topspin on the ball, causing it to dip—maybe under the crossbar. The way Lee is currently shooting, I doubt we’ll ever see him do this.

Thankfully for the Revs, the case with Bruin was significantly worse. He created fair to good shooting chances in the 56th, 83rd, 88th, and 90th minutes but then flubbed the shots—all but one, I think, off-target. He needs a complete technical overhaul.

One thought on Darrius Barnes’s long throws into the penalty area: I was told long ago by former U.S. Men’s National Team coach Walt Chysowitz that if a team has a player who is capable of these throws, he should always take them — and he meant always. I totally disagree. This policy takes away any advantage that might come from a quick throw or a throw to a player in position to cross the ball. My main point is that teams should do whatever they can to be unpredictable. When Barnes runs across the field to throw the ball in, everyone in the park knows what is about to happen.

This was a big win for the Revs, in my opinion their most accomplished effort. I hope they are careful to guard against a letdown vs. Toronto next Saturday.


  1. Mat

    May 20, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Another good article, thanks!

  2. Demetrios Tsillas

    May 20, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Not too long ago we were talking about how Toja and Nguyen couldn’t play together. It seemed like they couldn’t agree how to proceed with the play. In this game they seemed to have figured some of it out and it led to some very nice possession play. Some credit for the Fagundez goal can be given to the quick passing that went on leading up. You can see in the replay how focused the Houston defensive backs are on the ball and how all four backs took a step towards Simms during the give and go, not paying attention to how Fagundez was moving. As a result they were all wrong footed when Fagundez broke through. Fagundez chip into the goal was superb.

  3. rick sewall

    May 20, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Mat-thanks for the compliment. Demetrios, you are right. It’s amazing how teams can lose their focus when confronted by good passing, as Diego seemed to be ignored when he broke through. Zone coverage is in vogue now,but as a coach I might consider man marking a hot hand (Diego) in the dangerous area to stop at least some ball watching. This would also hold when defending corner kicks. I still wonder why Giles Barnes was so wide open on the early corner.

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