New England Soccer Today

Set Piece Success

Photo Credit: Jeff Bernstein

Photo Credit: Jeff Bernstein

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – With the amount of talent New England has when they attack, opponents are often left with no other choice than to foul.

But what the Revolution do with those attacking set pieces is what really matters.

New England made the the best of their chances from free kicks, with all three goals resulting from a set piece in the attacking third.

Charlie Davies was the beneficiary on free kicks from Chris Tierney while Lee Nguyen buried a penalty kick after Kelyn Rowe was fouled on on yet another service from Tierney to give New England a 3-1 win over Toronto.

“It’s something we really work on,” Revolution head coach Jay Heaps said of set pieces. “We have to because we have great guys that can serve [the ball], we have really good runs in the box and I just like the way we were aggressive on all of our free kicks.”

The first goal was a set piece straight from the training ground. With a free kick in the dead center of the pitch roughly 40 yards from goal, Rowe started to check to the ball before bending his run back towards goal. Tierney chipped a perfectly weighted ball right to the corner of the six yard box where Rowe met it with a simple one touch pass back across the face of goal and Davies got to it at the near post before Toronto goalie Joe Bendik could get to it.

“Chris drew it up,” Rowe said. “He called me over and said hey look, spin out and I’m going to find you at the back post and just play it across. He totally Tom Brady’d it and put it right on my foot.”

“Jay really emphasized set pieces a lot this week,” Tierney said, who only joined training on Thursday after suffering whiplash and a knock to his ankle against Chicago. “We worked on them a lot, that play to Kelyn we drew up in training so I’m glad it worked out. It’s just about executing in the games. I just try to be consistent whipping the ball into good spots and it’s up to the guys to go attack it. I thought we were really hungry in front of the goal tonight and it showed.”

Rowe was involved yet again on the Revolution’s second goal. In the 43rd minute, Rowe darted from the top of the area towards the near post to try and get a piece of Tierney’s cross from the left flank, but was dragged down by Damien Perquis inside the box. Nguyen stepped up for the ensuing PK and buried it as Bendik went diving the opposite direction.

“I think that’s the best word for it, he’s hungry,” Heaps said of Rowe. “He can read the game, we have some designed things for him within those set pieces but at the same time, we have to be able to read the game. I like that we have options. When you work on set pieces and you have guys like Chris Tierney and Lee Nguyen over the ball, you’re going to get chances to hurt teams. Sometimes we have and sometimes we haven’t but we want to make sure we’re aggressive there so teams have to worry about defending our free kicks.”

The Revolution continued to make Toronto pay when the Reds conceded yet another attacking free kick. This time, it was Bendik who came way off his line to try and beat Davies to the ball along the right sidelines. Bendik got the ball but also got plenty of Davies to earn a yellow card.

On that free kick, Tierney answered the call for a third time by placing a dangerous ball right into the area. Rowe made the run to the near post and got a slight touch and the ball then deflected off Benoit Cheryou and bounced right to Davies right in front for his second goal of the game.

“It’s very important,” Tierney said of making the most out of the set piece opportunities. “I think we have a lot of tricky players in the attacking third that create free kick opportunities. Teams are going to resort to hacking our guys and you have to take advantage of the opportunities you’re given.”

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