New England Soccer Today

Technically Speaking: #NEvDC

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

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.

From what you saw, how were the Revolution able to only concede one goal with only nine players for the last 32 minutes?

Rick: They took playing with two men down as a challenge – the only way to think if they were to achieve any sort of result. Counter-intuitively, playing two men down is not just a challenge: it can be downright enjoyable because, being down two men, your adrenaline is up, and at the same time you can relax in the knowledge that you’re not expected to chalk up a win. DC United, on the other hand, had to be thinking how embarrassing it would be to fritter away a double man-advantage. In other words, the Revs (despite, or because of, their precarious position) had a strong psychological advantage. They played excellent defense and came very close to scoring a second goal.

Right after Lee Nguyen’s ejection, DC fullback Sean Franklin played a careless ball over the Revs’ end line. This was almost a presage of what was to come. DC played poorly, not passing quickly or with enough care, allowing several bad passing giveaways (what a waste of a two-man advantage!), and losing the ball on the dribble. A good sign of the pressure they were under was that they ended up drawing three tactical yellow cards late in the game. In my view, their sloppy play resulted from a negative player mindset. They were all too aware that, with the advantage they had, anything but a win would be a disappointment.

On the other side of the coin, it’s somewhat amazing that DC was only able to register one shot on goal (Arrieta’s goal). What could they have done better to create more shots?

Rick: The basic way to beat a stacked defense is to go around them via the wings and to shoot from outside the area. DC’s passing attack was executed too slowly and with too many giveaways. Their use of Taylor Kemp on the left side was promising, but fell short of full effectiveness. The Revs gobbled up almost everything on the DC right wing and up the middle. Chris Rolfe’s shot over the bar in the 67th minute was their only attempt from outside the area (DC is not the only MLS team with this weakness, but it really took its toll on Saturday’s game).

How difficult is it, especially for a defender, to continue to be strong on challenges after watching two of his teammates get sent off?

Rick: I would say not too difficult at all because it presents him with a terrific personal challenge and a chance to shine against the odds. Most competitive athletes prefer to play in tough games. This has a way of pumping up the adrenaline and raising the level of the underdog’s game. All the Revs players – defense, midfield, forwards – showed textbook responses to being two men down. Jay Heaps is definitely happy about this.

Which Revolution player in particular do you think was instrumental to getting a draw out of Saturday’s game?

Rick: There were no slouches on the field for the last 32 minutes of the game – they all seemed to play to their potential – but if I had to single one man out for extra praise it would be the Man of the Match – Andrew Farrell. I counted about eight nifty defensive plays on his part in the last 32 minutes, involving sliding tackles, a blocked shot, and clearances by kicking and heading. He played with a verve and energy.

He might be criticized for ball-watching on the DC goal, as Arrieta slipped in behind him, but then again Jose Goncalves was in the best position at that moment to neutralize the goal-scorer.

My main suggestion for Farrell in this situation is that he should have rotated his body about 45 degrees to his left, to see both the ball and Arrieta at the same time. As it was he was directly facing the ball and oblivious to what was going on behind him.

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

Rick: I would say the Revs’ determined play of the last 32 minutes and United’s inability to adjust to having the two-man advantage for such a long time. Coach Ben Olsen’s post-game comments were right on the money. He gave the Revs a lot of credit for their play and conceded that his team played too slowly and not enough to the wings.


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