New England Soccer Today

Makeshift Backline Answers the Bell

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It’s fair to say that Revolution coach Jay Heaps didn’t exactly have a surplus of options when assembling his backline for Saturday’s match against the Fire.

With Jose Goncalves, Donnie Smith, Darrius Barnes, and Chris Tierney all battling through various injuries, Heaps had no choice but to improvise ahead of the conference clash.

While Andrew Farrell remained at center back, midfielder Kelyn Rowe was called upon to make an unexpected start at right back. Joining Rowe in the makeshift backline was Je-Vaughn Watson, who got his first nod at center back, and London Woodberry, who earned a rare start at left back.

The result? A 2-0 win. Naturally.

“We limited those shots on goal,” Heaps said. “Je-Vaughn is a natural gamer. I kind of put him that way. You tell him where he’s going to play, he’s all set. With Kelyn, you need to work. We need to spend a couple extra hours on video going through it and talking through it. Where Je-Vaughn is, ‘Okay, boss. Get me in the game,’ and then London I thought has just done a nice job left and right.”

Woodberry and Rowe switched after halftime, allowing Woodberry in his more natural right back position. But even with Rowe still in an unfamiliar role, the fifth-year veteran said his teammates allowed him to manage the assignment without incident.

“It just showed that we have a depth in the team and that we have this fight and desire to win games,” midfielder/defender Kelyn Rowe said following the game. “It wasn’t just one or two guys. It was the whole team and I think that’s what you want going forward and like I said, it’s just one game. We need to make sure we have two more like this.”

The Revolution did not allow a shot on goal until stoppage time, when Farrell inadvertently directed a Matt Polster effort toward danger before Bobby Shuttleworth pushed it wide.

“Communication is a big thing along the back line,” Farrell said. “Especially with guys who haven’t played a lot in that spot. I was just trying to yell as much as possible – yell little things to help. Drop back, man on your left, stuff lie that.”

Saturday’s win was just the third clean sheet of the season for New England, but it came at a crucial time with the Copa America break approaching. The Revolution defense held Chicago to just four total shots, and allowed just 49 percent passing accuracy in the attacking third.

Not bad for a back four that appeared ripe for a long night.

“Credit to all three of those guys for adjusting, following the game plan, but (also) really interpreting what we were doing in the film sessions and in our game preparation,” Heaps said.

Leave a Reply