New England Soccer Today

Technically Speaking: #NEvNY

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Welcome back to another edition of “Technically Speaking,” where our very own resident coach and former pro Rick Sewall takes a deeper look into the Revolution’s latest performance.

Have any questions you’d like Rick to address? Feel free to ask away in the comments section below.

What did you make of the decision to start Jermaine Jones at center back again over a presumably healthy Jose Goncalves?

Rick: Even though Jose Goncalves may be fully recovered from his injury, the fact of the matter is that he has not played in a game for quite a while, which can leave any player’s “game-readiness” a little questionable. Given that any game with a Red Bull team, especially an undefeated one, is going to be very competitive, and that the substitute defense of Jones and Andrew Farrell is pairing well at centerback (while Scott Caldwell and Andy Dorman are also doing the job at defensive midfield), I understand Jay Heaps’ decision not to start Goncalves. Subbing him into the game for Andy Dorman at the 74th minute was another really good move, I thought. At that time, the Revs had to anticipate trouble from a Red Bulls offense scenting a possible tie. Getting Goncalves in at the back while pushing Jones forward to stabilize the Revs’ offense helped take some pressure off the defense. Plus: game experience will get a player accustomed to a faster pace than any team training session, so this was a good step toward getting Goncalves back into game shape.

Charlie Davies said that after they scored the first goal, the Revs made it difficult on themselves. What did you see from them after that goal?

Rick: There is no question that, for more or less the rest of the first half, the Red Bulls had the better of the play. I can’t criticize the back four and the two defensive midfielders much for this situation. Their primary job is to play defense – though the ideal defensive midfield might take a more active role in initiating the attack. The three offensive midfielders – Juan Agudelo, Kelyn Rowe, and Teal Bunbury – should have been more assertive in their own offensive half about disrupting the developing Red Bulls’ attack. Davies always works hard at this, but he was left a little alone in the endeavor. On the other hand, I would also give the Red Bulls credit for creating this problem for the Revs. They were fast and determined for the rest of the half (and for the whole game, for that matter).

Were you surprised that Chris Tierney wasn’t as involved in the offense this week?

Rick: The Red Bulls, undefeated before this game, were the best team the Revs have played so far, with the possible exception of the Sounders, so it is no wonder that Chris Tierney had to play more defensively than he has had to in previous games. Dealing with Dane Richards, and then Lloyd Sam after the 63rd minute was no easy task.

There was also a lot of long-ball kicking in this game. This cut way down on the chances for the overlap—they simply were not there. The difficulty of playing on artificial turf also took its toll on Chris’ offensive play. It is a lot more difficult to play possession soccer (a pre-condition critical for effective fullback offensive play) on turf than it is on natural grass.

How much of an impact did guys like Bradley Wright-Phillips and Lloyd Sam make in the second half?

Rick: Even though neither Bradly Wright-Phillips nor Lloyd Sam played a role in the Red Bull goal (a very nice one, with Sacha Kljestan scoring off a head pass from Mike Grella), I thought the entrance of these two into the game in the 61st and 63rd minutes respectively made the Red Bulls stronger at center forward and right wing. Wright-Phillips is always a threat, having a knack for getting in position with the ball and only the keeper to beat – as he did in the 68th minute (stopped nicely by Bobby Shuttleworth) and the 79th minute (header over the bar). Sam did nothing as threatening, but he played well, passing and dribbling, before Felipe’s very dangerous shot at the 88th minute.

What stood out the most to you from Saturday’s game?

This was a hotly-contested, fast-paced game. Only rarely did either team take the ball slowly up the field, under control, with a lot of short passes. This situation resulted from a combination of the intense Rev-Red Bull rivalry and the artificial turf.

The Revs scored two beautiful goals: Davies’ header, and Bunbury’s goal, which was preceded by an elegant string of six passes. If I were Heaps, I’d be pretty happy.

Charlie’s header, picture-perfect as it was, might have been prevented by sound defensive play. One principle in marking is never to let an offensive player cut in front of you (or behind you) in front of the goal mouth, especially during corner kicks. If Matt Miazga had positioned himself correctly between Charlie and the middle of the goal, he would have had a good chance to prevent Charlie’s run to the ball (though focusing on both the ball and your mark requires a tremendous amount of concentration).

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