New England Soccer Today

Technically Speaking: #LAvNE

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

It took LA 111 minutes to score their second goal to beat the Revs 2-1, thereby garnering their fifth MLS cup (third in the last four years) – an impressive accomplishment.

Overall, the game was played like many a knock-out match, with both teams guilty of too many unforced errors, resulting from nervousness over the game’s high stakes. Recognition of this phenomenon keeps me from completely agreeing with the scathing assessment of the overall play by commentator Taylor Twellman (Mr. Tell-It-Like-It-Is) at the 102nd minute, that he was “shocked” (he used the word twice, Claude-Rains-like) by the sloppiness of the play, especially on the part of star players on both teams.

Indeed, the Revs’ loss perhaps could be best explained by the fact that the Galaxy were able to contain the Revs’ two key players, Jermaine Jones and Lee Nguyen. More than any other Revs’ opponent to date, the Galaxy seemed keyed in to the modes and tendencies of both players and were thus able to neutralize the significant threat they pose on offense. Nguyen and Jones were much less effective than normal. Credit the Galaxy defense – and probably more importantly their coaching staff – for corralling them, with A.J. De La Garza, Marcelo Sarvas, and Juninho being particularly effective in this regard.

Nonetheless, in the second half and the overtime, the Revs created one golden moment and a few more tempting opportunities. Jose Gonçalves and Patrick Mullins assisted beautifully on Chris Tierney’s model goal in the 79th minute; Teal Bunbury hit the crossbar in the 85th minute (if this had gone in, my prediction of a 2-1 Revs’ victory would almost certainly have come true); Mullins hit the ball low and on-target in the 116th minute; and Andrew Farrell shot from close range, albeit poorly, in the 118th minute, after receiving a delicate chip pass from Daigo Kobayashi.

The game was decided in the second overtime, with the 111th-minute winner a result of a botched off-side trap. Chris Tierney has been roundly criticized for keeping Robbie Keane onside by not stepping up, but I say that in that situation it would have been a good idea to mark the league’s MVP man-to-man (forget the trap!), because he is the most likely to score – not because of his speed, but because he is skillful and very, very savvy. He is just the type of player to opportunistically beat the off-side trap, a tactic that has burned the Revs several times this year.

A glaring technical problem for the Revs in the second overtime came in the 118th minute when Farrell shot well over the bar from about 8 yards away. Proper instep technique with a good follow-through could have kept the ball on target, with any miss at least going wide of the goal instead of over. With the technique Farrell used it would have been a surprise if he ball had stayed under the bar. Proper shooting can make a difference in the outcome of a game. It certainly could have in this one.

High-pressure games are fascinating, even if both teams are not playing to their potential. Very often in this type of game experience turns out to be the deciding factor. The oldest man on the field (Robbie Keane, age 34) proved this true.

Absolutely no shame for the Revs. They topped off a fine season with a game that will be difficult to forget. The Galaxy were just a little better.

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