New England Soccer Today

Technically Speaking: Revolution vs. Impact

Photo: Kari Heistad/

Photo: Kari Heistad/

The Impact beat the Revs Sunday night 4-2 in a game marred by a penalty and red card dealt to Rev keeper Matt Reis in the fifth minute. The Revs then had to play a man down for 85 minutes, a more severe problem than the 1-0 deficit they faced after Montreal’s Bernier converted the penalty.

Despite this hard luck start, the Revs played well, especially in the first half. Despite allowing two more goals and playing against a more experienced and skillful team, the Revs had the better of the play until they began to run out of gas about halfway through the second half. The Impact played like an over-30 team (which, for the most part, they are). If I were Impact coach Marco Schallibaum, I would have been tearing my hair out at what appeared to be some fairly casual play. In the first half, the Revs had four corners to none for the Impact, and the Impact were often pressured into giveaways by an aggressive Rev team defense. I counted around six.

Despite their clear awareness of his goal-scoring ability and his style of play, the Revs had a serious problem with the 37-year-old Marco DiVaio. They knew he was an offside specialist (meaning that he may be called off sides four or more times in a row, but the fifth time he won’t be – and he’ll then take the ball, dance with it, and score an elegant goal), but they couldn’t do anything about it. In this game, he did his thing twice on very similar plays, at minutes 45+2 and 55.

What was the Revs’ most serious defensive problem? Central defense. DiVaio ran by José Goncalves (not napping, but offside-trapping) at the five minute mark, received the ball while staying onside, and drew the penalty-area foul by Reis. The referee (justifiably enough) ruled that Reis denied DiVaio a scoring opportunity, hence the red card.

In the 33rd minute, Goncalves knocked Felipe over in the area, resulting in another penalty that was easily converted by Bernier for his second goal of the night. Goncalves should absolutely have made more of an effort to avoid contact, though this was more a 50-50 call on the referee’s part. Soares was completely buffaloed by DiVaio for the two run of play Montreal goals, beaten way too easily by the Italian veteran’s outside of the right foot move. He might have hoped for some help from Goncalves, especially on the second goal, but José merely stood and watched. Caldwell, with the team playing with only 10 men, could have helped out by playing deeper. As a defensive midfielder in the situation the Revs were in, he should consider his main job to be a strong defensive effort.

Once again, the Revs were hurt by too much reliance on the offside trap. Smart, experienced forwards will hurt you if your team resorts to this strategy too often. The harmful effects of the offside trap had some bearing on all four Montreal goals.

Turning to outer edges of the defense, Andrew Farrell could improve offensively if he developed some touch with his crosses and if he learned to shoot with his left foot. He squandered a few opportunities on Sunday. Shooting with the weaker foot is teachable. He has offensive potential and should have scored by now.

Kelyn Rowe probably shouldn’t smirk when disagreeing with refeee calls. Showing up the referee in this manner is not smart soccer. But he scored a very nice goal. Diego will never receive a better return pass than he did from the Montreal defender before he scored. Scoring twice while playing a man down is never easy. Pretty good for the Revs.

I am tired of hearing about a Revolution “team frustration” with calls by the referees. I think that if a team can put all its effort, physically and mentally, into playing the game it will get better results.

If the Revs continue with the effort and passion they showed last night, they should make the playoffs.

Meanwhile, it’s good to be back in the USA.


  1. KJ

    September 12, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    Why shouldn’t the Impact kick back and play casually? They had the game handed to them on a silver platter by the inexperienced ref’s red card call five minutes in. Don’t tell me about the rules. If the rule results in every foul by the goalie being a DOGSO, then the rule is an ass. In any case the circumstances would have allowed the ref to call the PK without the red card, which was overkill and disproportionate to the infraction. A more experienced ref would not have called the red card, and thereby allowed the game to proceed without the death sentence it imposed on the Revs’ chances of playing a fairly contested game, which it wasn’t.

  2. rick sewall

    September 13, 2013 at 10:06 am

    KJ, you make a good argument concerning the red card. Nonetheless, all teams know that questionable, even bad, referee calls will be made in the MLS in almost every game. Teams that adjust to this fact and are able to concentrate on proper play will have an advantage. I thought he Revs did pretty well playing a man down.

  3. KJ

    September 13, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Sure, the Revs played well, which makes it more of a shame they were victimized by the disproportionate red card. Check out the videos of DOGSO moves by Josh Sanders (LA Galaxy) vs. RSL and Matt Pickens (Colorado Rapids) vs. Toronto 7/18/2012 to see legitimate DOGSO red cards. Guess what? They weren’t called. Compare their actions to Matt Reis’. Think the MLS has a problem with referee consistency?

    • John

      September 17, 2013 at 5:11 pm

      The Professional Referee Organization says the red card was the correct decision:—wk28.php. As an aside, professional referees can’t ignore the laws – this was an obvious goal scoring opportunity and anything less than a red card would likely have resulted in a failed assessment for the referee.

  4. KJ

    October 1, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    I agree that the ref (Stoica) followed the rule to the letter, as he saw the play. However, I would be curious to know if the refs in the other incidents I saw were given “failed assessments” for not calling it. And why wouldn’t they call it, unless they judged the DOGSO inappropriate to apply in all its severity? All of this only points to the need to change the rule as it applies to goalies. It is out of proportion to Reis’ action to award a PK (which has to be taken by a new keeper cold off the bench), plus the red card, essentially awarding the game to the opposing team. FIFA was on the verge of changing the rule a few years ago and didn’t. The original purpose of DOGSO was to address the more common situation of an attacking player who approaches the box one-on-one with the goalie and then is deliberately fouled from behind. That’s red-card worthy, but notice it does not include a PK on top of it. Reis dove for the ball and caught DeVaio’s legs. That’s a PK but not red-card worthy. Perhaps a goalie foul of this sort doesn’t happen often enough to motivate FIFA to change the rule, but as far as I’m concerned it’s a flaw in the rules. If the MLS wants the refs to be consistent then they should discipline the refs when they don’t call it, and the PRO should make a point of this also. In the meantime we are seeing inconsistent referee decisions on game-changing situations.

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