New England Soccer Today

Technically Speaking: #NEvSJ

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

*Editor’s note: For this week’s edition of “Technically Speaking,” we’re trying out a Q & A format with our coach and former pro Rick Sewall to get his perspective on Saturday’s match. Let us know what you think!

Were you surprised that, after countless golden opportunities were wasted by the Revs during the last two weeks, their first goal comes from a deflected shot?

Rick: No, I was not surprised by the deflection goal. What should always be in the back of players’ minds is the opportunity to shoot for luck (shooting without an open path to the goal, in hopes that the ball will somehow sneak through, get deflected in, or take a lucky bounce right to an open teammate). Shooting for luck entails shooting the ball low and on-target, especially from outside the penalty area. Kelyn shot the ball from just inside the area, solidly and on-target. One bounce off Shaun Francis’ head, and the Revs were up by an early goal – an effective game-changer. The better the team’s shooting technique, the more of these goals they are likely to score. Then luck really becomes “the residue of design,” as Branch Rickey used to say.

What did you think of the idea of having Juan Agudelo on the right and Charlie Davies up top?

Rick: Juan and Charlie are definitely both among the top 10 Revs’ field players, and both deserve to start. I liked Jay Heaps’ strategy of using Charlie up top and putting Juan on the wing, switching frequently from left to right and back again, as he did in this game. Both players came close to scoring, especially Charlie early in the second half. Putting Charlie up top capitalizes on his strength in the air and his penetrating runs, while Juan’s skillful dribbling makes him a significant threat on the wing.

How would you assess the way the Farrell-Goncalves center back partnership performed? Do you think they’re finally starting to gel?

Rick: Any time a defense gives its goalkeeper very little to do for the first 80 minutes of a game means that the two centerbacks did well. The improvement over the first two games this year is very noticeable. The ‘Quake goal was not a centerback mistake, and Bobby Shuttleworth had to make only one moderately difficult save – Wondolowski’s shot in the 93rd minute from outside the area. It looks as if the Revs’ coaching staff did some work with the centerbacks on working together as a steady, disciplined pair. Farrell’s impulse control has definitely improved over the first two games.

What did you make of Scott Caldwell’s foul on Clarence Goodson to set up the penalty kick? Were you surprised by Caldwell’s aggressiveness in that situation?

Rick: If you are in your own penalty area and defending against a forward who is attacking the goal, you have to be very careful, because any direct-kick foul you make may result in a penalty shot. Conversely, a forward with the ball inside the attacking penalty area should be reluctant to leave the area because, while he’s there, the opposing defender is under a lot of pressure to avoid fouling him. Dribbling or passing back outside relieves this pressure on the defender. Scott was definitely too aggressive. He had to know exactly where he was, but even so, he went for a risky tackle in the area, ironically, just as Goodson was taking the pressure off him by retreating from the goal.

What’s the one thing that stood out for you about the Revs performance?

Rick: The Revs had almost complete control of the game for about the first 80 minutes. They achieved this control by having their way in the midfield. Lee Nguyen, Daigo Kobayashi, Darrius Barnes, Chris Tierney, Caldwell, Agudelo, and Rowe played exceptionally well together. Part of this domination can perhaps be explained by the difficult playing conditions (poor San Jose!), but I think the main reason was the more sophisticated style of play the Revs demonstrated. A more realistic game score might have been 3-0 or 4-0 for the Revs.

Have a question for Rick? Let us know via Twitter (@nesoccertoday) or e-mail (


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