New England Soccer Today

Technically Speaking: #NEvLA

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.

After Sunday’s game, Jay Heaps said he was particularly frustrated by his team’s form after the first 12 minutes. What did you see from the Revs after the 12-minute mark that probably gave Heaps fits?

Rick: Teal Bunbury scored for the Revs early, following nifty passes from Juan Agudelo to Scott Caldwell, and Caldwell to Bunbury. But from about the 12th minute to the 50th minute, the Revs’ possession game took a vacation, and statistics clearly show this. During this period the Revs could not complete four consecutive passes, and indeed completed three in a row only three times. This failure resulted in part from aggressive play by the Galaxy forwards, and in part, from some pretty good possession play in the Galaxy’s own right, all of which was rewarded by two well-deserved goals in the 18th and 27th minutes.

Galaxy pressure also caused some sloppy play for the Revs – poor marking in the penalty area, London Woodberry getting easily beaten down the Galaxy left flank, a botched back pass to Bobby Shuttleworth which could easily have resulted in a goal, and even a foul throw by Diego Fagundez.

I don’t blame coach Heaps one bit for being disturbed by this slapdash performance. Thankfully, the team recovered when, around the 50th minute, they strung together nine passes. From then on, the game was played on a fairly even basis.

Sunday’s match was the fifth straight game in which the Revolution have blown a lead. What do you think could be the root of the problem?

Rick: Bobby Shuttleworth has played very consistently this year, so this means that the field players will take most of the heat for this problem – the forwards for not scoring for bigger leads and the defenders for allowing the opposition to score and tie. This is a hard question to answer, as by one interpretation the blowing of the lead could be a defensive problem, by another an offensive one. Whatever the root cause, the easier way to remedy it is to beef up the defense – because, as they say in soccer, it is easier to destroy than to create.

Looking at the Revs’ present back four, I worry about left and right back. Woodberry and Tierney are both fine offensively, but their defense can cause problems. They just aren’t fast enough. Tierney has adjusted pretty well to this deficiency by learning to lay off the forward by a step or step and a half, deterring him from beating him to the outside. Woodberry still has this lesson to learn and falls too often into overcommitting.

What do you think prevented both sides from getting the go-ahead goal during the second half?

Rick: The combination of the artificial turf and the heavy rain obviously had something to do with it, but I think the main problem for both teams was that they were missing key players: Tierney, Lee Nguyen, and Jermaine Jones for the Revs; Robbie Keane for the Galaxy. These are all experienced players who could have made the difference playing under difficult conditions. Still, both keepers had to make very good saves to prevent more scoring.

While Diego Fagundez was able to hit a great free kick through, he seemed to get lost during many stretches of the match. What does he need to do better in order to return the player we saw two years ago?

Rick: I would have liked to see more from Diego in this game, because he was subbing in at offensive mid for the red-carded Lee Nguyen, and I suspect that may actually be his best position. On the wing, he lacks the moves and acceleration to beat a man toward the end line. But he’s got good ability to pass the ball, which suits him to a center mid position. Yet he was not awfully effective there in this game:

• He was unnecessarily dispossessed at least a couple of times. Knowing where defenders are is critical to keep this from happening.

• If were him, I would have played deeper in this game, especially when the team was struggling. I would have positioned myself closer to the ball, and passed as quickly as possible to a teammate.

• If I were him, I would also watch films of Carlos Valderrama, a player who had rock-solid technique with the inside and outside of both feet and unusually good field vision and awareness, virtues which made him an outstanding one-touch player. Diego may not become another Carlos (very few players will) but watching him play could help his development.

One last point: In Diego’s first year with the Revs, I was excited to see him execute an absolutely proper instep shot, something I have not seen from him since. I hope he remembers this technique, and works on it.

What stood out the most to you about Sunday’s match?

Rick: The nearly 40-minute lapse from the Revs in the first half and into the second half was strange, and easily could have resulted in a Galaxy win. At least they bounced back. And the fact that they did points up one of their best qualities as a team – that they so often to have it in them to overcome adversity. They just don’t give up.

Gyasi Zardes was Man of the Match. He put in an excellent effort.

Playing in a rainstorm, and on artificial turf, makes the game too much of a dogfight. A proper soccer stadium for the Revs is getting more and more imperative.


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