New England Soccer Today

Technically Speaking: #NEvCHI

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

The Revs won fairly easily, 2-1, against the Fire Sunday night, in a game marked by a 62.8 % to 37.2% New England ball-possession advantage and some fine offensive combinations. As the 2:1 possession statistic suggests, the Revs passing game was effective, especially during the first ten minutes of the game, during the last ten minutes of the first half, and from the time of Charlie Davies’ winning goal to the end of the contest.

The Revs’ defense, nonetheless, was exposed on several occasions, most notably between minutes 27 to 37, when the Fire forwards suddenly (and in quick succession) started breezing by the New England defense. Sanna Nyassi’s header on goal barely missed in the 14th minute, and in the 28th minute he scored on a very similar play. Both times Quincy Amarikwa was able to muscle his way by the Revs defense and put a very accurate cross to Nyassi.

The Revs were lucky not to be behind by two goals when, only two minutes later, Nyassi dispossessed Jermaine Jones and broke in all alone on the keeper, only to bang the ball off the post.

Fortunately, the Revs were able to regain control of the game after Diego Fagundez’s 41st minute tying goal. But the spectre of those 10 minutes when they were so clearly on their defensive heels makes me edgy for the post-season. In the playoffs, teams will be stronger and will play harder than the eighth-place Fire did on Sunday.

Now, back to the goals. All (for both teams) were well taken. It would be easy just to congratulate the offense in each case for a well-executed attack. Nonetheless, all three could have been prevented by disciplined defensive play.

The first, Nyassi’s precision header in the 28th minute could, and probably should, have been prevented by some decent goalside marking by either Scott Caldwell or Darrius Barnes. Given that Barnes was just behind Nyassi and in position to see Amarikwa, the ball, and Nyassi all at the same time, it probably was his responsibility to do the marking. I would guess (I could, of course, be wrong) that this defensive lapse was the main topic of Jay Heaps’ visibly heated discussion with Barnes just after the halftime whistle. I won’t deny that the Amarikwa cross was pin-point accurate, but even so proper marking could have prevented the goal.

Similarly, the Revs’ tying goal in the 41th minute unquestionably followed two superb assists by Jose Goncalves and Lee Nguyen, but it still could have been successfully defended if the Fire defense had paid due attention to Diego Fagundez, who was positioning himself opposite the far post. About three Chicago defenders were bunched in front of the middle of the goal with their backs to the New England winger, completely ignoring him, and watching only the ball. Especially on end-line crosses and corner kicks, the defending team should be aware of and mark all opposing players who are in good scoring positions, particularly those opposite the near and far posts. In this case, Chicago simply didn’t do it.

With the score tied 1 -1, the Fire defense failed again, resorting to (and botching) an offside trap, rather than undertaking the hard work of marking and running with an opposing forward. This may have been, as Paul Mariner mentioned, a result of fatigue. No one was near Davies when he broke between the center backs and received Jones’ delicate through ball. A team lives or dies by the offside trap, and in this case the Fire died.

The long and short of it is that good possession play often results in defensive breakdowns by the other team, and the team with the possession advantage is likely to cause more breakdowns and score more goals than their counterparts.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Nguyen’s left-footed 3rd minute shot and two by Kelyn Rowe at the 25th and 56th minutes. All were more or less flubbed, but kudos to both for trying.

Although his team lost, coach Frank Yallop’s approach to the beginning of the game was well-conceived – lie back and play defense for the first 15 minutes and see what the other team has (especially with the arrival on the scene of German first-division veteran Jones). Then, when your team gets more comfortable, play more aggressively. I would have done the same thing. If luck had swung the Fire’s way, they could have gone up one, two, even three goals in those peppery attacking 10 minutes.

Despite his goof and stumble on Nyassi’s near miss, Jones played nearly the whole game and did well. His poise and experience, as reflected by his vision, his smooth and efficient passing, and his ball-winning abilities, are raising the level of play of the whole team.


  1. Robert

    September 10, 2014 at 11:46 am

    This is off subject. I figured the attendance number for Saturday’s game would have been alot higher since it was Jermaine Jones’ first weekend home game. I honestly thought the attendance figure would have reached 30,000 because of Jones and the fact that the Revs are on a roll and playing some very crucial Eastern Division games. From that aspect, it was a little disappointing. But then again, not every city can be like Seattle, Portland, and Sandy, Utah.

    • pauloblitzz

      September 10, 2014 at 3:01 pm

      Game was on Sunday which is why we had that lower number especially since it was the opening Sunday for the NFL. This next game vs MTL should be much better numbers wise.

  2. Peter

    September 10, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Just wondering if Dorman is in full training yet ???

  3. Brian O'Connell

    September 11, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    He’s coming along from what I’ve seen at training; however, he’s often working exclusively with the trainer, which indicates he’s not especially close to returning. Given the original recovery timeline (10-12 weeks), I’d say he’ll probably be ready to return in early October.

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