New England Soccer Today

Wing Success Leads to Win

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – For the first three games of the season, teams found success defending the New England Revolution by clogging up the attacking lanes down the middle. When the Revolution responded by attempting to attack down the wings, the club only managed to connect with teammates on just 16% of its crosses and converted none of those chances into goals.

That all changed on Saturday when the Revolution completed 44% of their crosses, including 55% in the first half, and scored two first half goals that originated from the wings.  The goals were the team’s first two of the season and led to the club’s first victory of the year, 2-1 over the San Jose Earthquakes.

“It’s always one of our goals to use wide play,” said Chris Tierney. “Not just to get balls in the box, but to open up channels for our guys in the middle who are really our go to guys. The more space we can create for Lee [Nguyen], for Charlie [Davies], for Juan [Agudelo], for Kelyn [Rowe], for Diego [Fagundez], the more goals we’re going to score.”

The success came, in part, because—especially in the first half—the Revolution seemed to get more numbers in the box with forwards Davies, making his first start of the season, and Agudelo both starting together for the first time.

“To be honest it’s been something we’ve worked on all year,” said Tierney. “I think especially with Charlie [Davies] in there, he really puts pressure on them. There are two guys then with Charlie and Juan [Agudelo] who are really good in the box strikers. I think just the added numbers there really helped us out in those situations.”

While neither striker got their name on the score sheet, Davies played a significant role in the first goal, drawing four defenders as he ran into San Jose’s box and opening up space for Rowe to run into in the 21st minute. Nguyen got the ball on the wing from Daigo Kobayashi and played it inside to Rowe, who took a touch into the space Davies created in the box and blasted a shot on frame that deflected off defender Shaun Francis before beating goalkeeper David Bingham for New England’s first goal of the season.

“We’ve gotten so many crosses in the past couple of games and we haven’t had too many chances, but we’ve gotten a couple of nicks here and there,” said Rowe. “But if we can get one more guy in there, one more guy in the back post, one more guy in the near post, those chances may fall to us and we had it today. Chris [Tierney] has been putting some great balls in. We had a couple of chances there and a couple good saves. You saw from the free kick goal, if you find chances, if you get guys in the box, something’s going to happen.”

In addition to Davies, the addition of Darrius Barnes to the line-up in the past two games has given the Revolution an added presence in the box, particularly on set pieces, when the 6-foot-1 defender gets forward. After New England earned a free kick on the left flank, Barnes got on the end of Tierney’s set piece cross and headed it to Rowe at the near post, who volleyed it in to give the home side a 2-0 lead in the 37th minute.

“It was something we’ve worked on, just getting across the box,” said Barnes. “Set pieces are something that we want to get better at and I just took it upon myself to try to get in the mix and get something on frame.”

New England didn’t carry the same level of success on the wings into the second half, but still the positive play from the flanks was evidenced in the stats. New England was credited with 12 chances created and nine of those came from the wings—more chances from the outside than the previous three games combined.

With that success came the Revolution’s first goals of the season, and more importantly, their first win.

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