New England Soccer Today

Set Piece Form Promising

Photo credit: Sporting Kansas City

Following his squad’s third preseason game of the winter, which put the bow on the first leg of the Revolution’s preseason schedule, coach Jay Heaps took stock of what he observed during the team’s stay in Arizona.

Among the most notable takeaways: the club’s set piece prowess.

With players still working their way back to match fitness, the Revolution did well to take advantage of dead ball situations, scoring three of their five goals from set pieces.

“We’re putting good service in, and we’re making great runs on it and scoring some good goals,” Heaps told the media on Tuesday. “But at the same time, I like also scoring from the run of play just to make sure that we’re doing both.”

Improving consistency from the run of play is always a challenge this early in the winter. Not only are players far from ready to go the full 90, but the number of new faces doesn’t exactly lend itself to instant connections and understandings.

With that in mind, it appears the Revolution made it a point to be crisp on their corners and free kicks, especially with the likes of Chris Tierney, Lee Nguyen, and Kei Kamara all healthy and present for camp.

“It’s always an important part of the game,” Tierney told the media on Tuesday. “For us, we spend a lot of time on it. If we can steal some goals that way this year, that’ll be a bonus. It’s a really important part of the game both offensively and defensively, so we work hard on it, and we’ll continue to do so.”

As far as the defending end of the equation, Heaps hinted that he’d like to see more from his squad when their foes are standing over the ball. In the 50th minute of Tuesday’s match, Sporting KC’s Gerso Fernandes whipped a free kick to a loosely-marked Colton Storm, whose header beat Brad Knighton before it smacked off the crossbar.

“(It’s) obviously a really good, important thing where we want to be this year is good on set pieces,” Heaps said. “A little disappointed how we defended a set piece in the second half with a free header off the crossbar, but again, we have to make improvements in each capacity.”

Fortunately for the Revolution, there’s still plenty of time to work out the kinks. Four preseason matches remain, and with nearly a month to go before the regular season arrives, the squad should have ample opportunity to tighten the screws defensively and offensively on set pieces.

“You work on organization, being in the right positions, and then hoping you sharpen up technically as preseason goes on,” Tierney said.

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