New England Soccer Today

Technically Speaking: #PORvNE

Photo credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to another edition of “Technically Speaking,” where our resident coach and former pro Rick Sewall offers his analysis on the latest Revolution match.

Have a question for Rick? Feel free to ask away in the comments section!


NEST: I wondered what you thought a guy like Josh Smith – someone who’s never seen a single MLS minute until Sunday – has to think about and focus on as a young center back who’s charged with marking one of the most dangerous strikers in the league. What is that like for a young center back? How does a center back mentally prepare?

Rick Sewall: Josh Smith may be a rookie but he is a 25 year old one with experience playing in Europe, and I’ll bet he has run across some good coaching while playing over there. The announcers were saying that he was very vocal during the game, and , if the rest of the Rev defenders take this in a positive way, it is an indication that he is far more experienced than your average rookie. Coach Heaps, looking at his size and strength, also thought he would have a better chance than the guy he replaced, defending against Adi . He had a good game and, hopefully, is a real find for the Revs.

What did you make of subbing out Chris Tierney for Je-Vaughn Watson? It’s odd to see a healthy fullback subbed out for another fullback, especially with them only down a goal.

Rick: I have been saying for years that Tierney is only an adequate defender. When he comes across a winger like Sebastian Blanco he will have problems. Watson is fast , athletic, and fresh off the bench, all of which help him to do better vs. the talented Blanco. Also, Tierney is also not doing too well with his crosses lately.

What do you think is wrong with the offense? On paper, they’ve got plenty of talent, so why do they continue to struggle?

Rick: The Revs have talent offensively in Juan Agudelo, Kei Kamara, and Lee Nguyen, but I am concerned about Diego Fagundez and Kelyn Rowe. I think they are overrated, especially their dribbling to attack and shooting abilities. Both (despite Rowe’s 2nd minute shot) need lots of improvement. If I could trade both players for a .player like David Accam, I would. Effective wing play- whether in midfield or as a pure winger- is critical for a successful offense. Right now, the Revs are not getting it.

I get the sense that Kamara and Agudelo are not playing inspired soccer- they had no real scoring chances for the whole game. They have to take on more of a leadership role, and, if they are not getting the ball, they should go back into midfield to get it. Lee had a good game but he dribbles too much (he should use dribbling as a surprise move), which slows the ball down and exposes him to injury–defenders love to nail dribblers.

Looking at the offensive struggles from a different perspective: is coaching part of the problem? From my view if the talent is underperforming, it’s an indictment of the coaching

Rick: Teaching is a big part of coaching at all levels, or should be. The fact that almost all college and pro coaches expect their players to be technically proficient on arrival is a problem here and all over the world. The Rev staff’s failure to teach the team how to kick the ball properly (the next staff would probably have the same problem) is, to me, a major reason why they are having difficulties scoring. This can be seen in the shooting from outside the area, goal kicks, and an overall unwillingness to shoot on the part of many Rev players.

To me, the coaching staff is neither underperforming or overperforming. The team seems to be stagnating for a variety of reasons- player talent , coaching, and, probably most important, the overall Rev organization because of the influence it has on the first two. I think Jay Heaps should be replaced in that a fresh face and a new approach might help, but a new and experienced coach will, or should, demand much more from the organization – scouting, for example.


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