New England Soccer Today

Head to Head: #CLBvNE

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

There’s no doubt that the marquee Eastern Conference Semi-Final match between the New England Revolution and Columbus Crew will pit a pair of quality clubs against each other. While each team has their respective strengths and weaknesses, the difference between success and failure will likely show itself in the midfield.

During their three-game regular season series, Columbus triumphed in the first two, while New England won the finale. But both finished the season strong. Columbus is 5-1-0, while New England is 4-1-1 over their last six matches. The only loss for the Revs came against Columbus, who coincidentally dropped their lone match during that span to New England. Even though Columbus led the season series, it is incredibly difficult to separate the two teams.

With the clubs being so equal, we decided to compare the two teams at each area of the pitch.


A really good match-up between two of the best goalkeepers during the second half of the season. While each has shown himself trustworthy to produce high-class saves, they’ll both need to kick it up a notch during the postseason.

Clark tallied eight shutouts, 111 saves and allowed 42 goals with a goals against average of 1.24. He also started and played every minute of all 34 matches for Columbus in 2014, giving the Crew stability between the sticks all season.

Shuttleworth is an interesting case study. He struggled in the first half of 2014, but found his rhythm when it mattered the most. Brad Knighton stole a couple of starts, and only proved why he was the backup. Shuttleworth made 94 saves, allowing 40 goals and posting a 1.25 goals against average while collecting eight shutouts.
Advantage: Columbus


While both sides feature back fours that can shore up the rear when pressed, they tend to go about it in different ways. The Revolution often rely on physicality over finesse, which isn’t all that surprising given the center back duo of A.J. Soares and Jose Goncalves. Neither has shown himself shy on challenges, but it isn’t totally brawn over brains in the back, as Soares’ distribution rate has improved considerably this season.

Meanwhile, the Crew backline is anchored by the positionally sound and savvy Michael Parkhurst, who would rather play the angles before the threat appears. Close by, Waylon Francis has shown speed and inventiveness going forward, but as shown in his last meeting against New England, he can let his emotions get the best of him.
Advantage: New England


The battle of the midfield will be won and lost through the play of the central players. Columbus look to Wil Trapp to run the offense like a sound point guard in basketball. Aiding Trapp in the midfield will be Tony Tchani, Ethan Finlay and Justin Meram. Tchani brings a sharp eye and terrific passing abilities to the Crew’s attack, while Meram and Finlay both have a knack for the big play. Crew midfielders combined for 23 assists in 2014, while New England mids dished out 25 assists.

New England’s attack flows through Nguyen and Jones. Coach Jay Heaps hopes Diego Fagundez and Kelyn Rowe also increase their play going into the post season. Teal Bunbury is listed on the roster as a forward, but slid to an outside midfield position early in the year. Nguyen’s ability to exploit space and score has made the Revolution a team to fear when they reach the final third.
Advantage: New England


Unlike last year, New England hasn’t grabbed many goals from their forwards in 2014. Charlie Davies tallied three times, and added four assists this season, but hasn’t scored since early-September. Rookie Patrick Mullins started off hot, scoring four goals, only to see his form fade after the All-Star break.

Columbus received valuable contributions from Jairo Arrieta and Aaron Schoenfeld down the stretch. Schoenfeld is a classic target man, while Arrieta is a shifty poacher who makes the most of his opportunities. It’ll be interesting to see which one gets the start on Saturday.
Advantage: Columbus

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