New England Soccer Today

Technically Speaking: Revolution vs. Toronto FC

Revolution keeper Bobby Shuttleworth picked up his second straight clean sheet in Saturday's 2-0 over Toronto. (Photo: Kari Heistad/

Revolution keeper Bobby Shuttleworth picked up his second straight clean sheet in Saturday’s 2-0 over Toronto. (Photo: Kari Heistad/

The Revs beat Toronto 2-0 last evening in a game played in poor conditions, with the rain combining with the artificial turf to make it difficult for both teams. The Revs were clearly the better team, dominating in ball possession and creating most of the good scoring chances (Toronto did have several opportunities to score, especially in he second half).  Bobby “Clean Sheet” Shuttleworth showed once again that he is capable of concentrating for the whole 90 minutes. He was especially effective when he covered for Stephen McCarthy’s giveaway early in the first half.

Jonathan Osorio, a left midfielder who made Andrew Farrell work hard, was a bright spot for Toronto.

Any self-respecting professional soccer team has to be able to possess the ball, and it is gratifying to see that the Revs are improving in this area with each game. The team mindset seems to have shifted to a possession playing style—there is a huge difference since the beginning of the season. Of course, to be really effective, a team needs a proper balance between possession and more direct play. One thing the Revs might work on now is making their use of the long ball more effective. Any long ball should be attempted with a purpose (excepting, obviously, defensive clearances). A 50-50 ball without a target is just that – 50-50. But a targeted and well-executed long ball raises the odds for a good strike on goal.

Rick Sewall liked what he saw from the Revolution attack on Saturday.

Rick Sewall liked what he saw from the Revolution attack on Saturday.

Making the right choice between the short pass and the targeted long ball takes a lot of awareness and skill on the part of the players. Three players on the Revs who have the technical capacity for either option are Lee Nguyen, Juan Toja and Chris Tierney. There may be others, too.

Diego Fagundez – man of the match for the third time in a row? I’d say pretty good. One of his clear strengths is his ability to dribble the ball smoothly at speed.  He can also shoot.

Tuesday is the U.S. Open Cup game vs the Rhinos. I hope the Revs take this game and the Cup competition seriously.  They haven’t always.

To switch gears from this side of the Atlantic to the other: Yesterday’s UEFA Cup final was one of the better ones, with end-to-end action, many scoring opportunities, and great goalkeeping. Once they weathered the Borussia Dortmund 25-minute storm at the beginning, Bayern more or less controlled the game, ending up with a good advantage in ball possession. One technical point that jumped out at me was that Arjen Robben, a fine player, had great chances to score in the first half but did not, partly because of his reluctance to use his weaker right foot. One-footedness will drive a lot of coaches crazy, but I say this is the way it is. I wouldn’t complain about this quirk in his game, as he ended up (deservedly) man of the match. Some of the best players in the history of the game, Franz Beckenbauer and Diego Maradona to name two (I am sure there are more) used their strong foot almost exclusively (Beckenbauer his right, Maradona his left). Our own Juan Toja rarely uses his right.

When I teach the power kick, I want the player to be able to execute the kick at first only with his or her strong foot.  I do not emphasize early use of two feet because priority should be on mastering proper technique – which is difficult enough to learn in the first place, as difficult to learn as driving a golf ball, and just as delicate. Once a player has the technique down solid, transfer of the skill to the weaker foot can follow, with teacher guidance. But if it never does, I’ll take a one-footed player with proper technique any day, over a player with two semi-effective feet.

Congratulations to Robbie Rogers.

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