New England Soccer Today

Technically Speaking: #NEvSJ

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Wednesday’s 0-0 tie between the Revolution and Earthquakes is a classic example of a team – namely, New Engand – that collected plenty of chances, but fell short of getting maximum points because of an easily correctable problem: poor shooting.

How poor? Well, I counted eight shots that threatened San Jose’s net, and only one of those went on target: the Diego Fagundez 73rd minute effort from the 18-yard-line, in front of the goal. His technique on the shot was mediocre, at best, featuring the all-too-common wild, cross-legged follow-through that leads not only to a lack of accuracy but also to a total inability to follow his shot for a rebound. He slightly mis-hit the ball, but it did go low to the left corner and forced David Bingham to make a nice diving save. This was the team’s best chance of the night. The other seven other threats launched by the Revs went off-target — either over the crossbar, wide, or both (yes, both).

In the seventh minute, Kelyn Rowe found an absolutely golden opportunity to shoot and score when the ball gently floated down to his right foot 15 yards in front of the goal. Bad shooting habits foiled him, though, as he swung his leg right to left across the ball and followed through with crossed legs. The startlingly-bad hit careened almost directly to his right and didn’t come close to crossing the end line. It was an ominous foreshadowing of the Revolution’s success – or lack thereof – in front of net.

Just after Rowe’s miss, the Revs earned a free kick outside the area taken by Chris Tierney in the eighth minute. Again, because of a wild follow-through, his shot went well off-target, both high and wide. Tierney is a strong taker of free kicks, but to move into the ranks of really effective power shooters, he needs to exert total body control from backswing to on-balance magic-hop follow-through. With this technical step forward, he could be a good European-caliber shooter of the ball.

Two minutes after Tierney’s miss, Fagundez shot low, but well wide from about 20 yards. Because he shoots with his upper body too erect, he has difficulty focusing on the ball throughout the shot. Lack of attention to the ball is the leading cause of missed shots, as evidenced by the Revolution’s continued misfortune in the final third Wednesday.

A couple of more misses served to keep the Revolution, who appeared to be primed to score before the break, from going into halftime with the lead. In the 17th minute, Lee Nguyen shot into the side netting from close range while demonstrating the same untamed follow-through that seems to afflict nearly everyone in a navy shirt. In the 22nd minute, Juan Agudelo hit the best ball of the evening after receiving a great cross from Rowe, but it still went off-target to the right.

Another example of bad shooting occurred in the 72nd minute. Right back Andrew Farrell, from 25 yards and in front of the goal, missed the target by 20 feet to the left. His shooting technique needs a complete overhaul. It would be best, with Farrell, to start from the very beginning of the power kick teaching sequence, emphasizing foot control, a full leg swing, and staying on-balance throughout the shot.

In a flub that somehow upstaged Rowe’s seventh-minute fiasco, Kei Kamara uncovered a totally wide-open shot off a cross, from 12 yards and directly in front of the goal—unquestionably a prime scoring chance in the 81st minute. It should have won the game for the Revs — but he completely butchered it by sailing it high over the bar, and the rains followed soon afterward. It’s no excuse that he had to use his left foot: at this level, every forward has to be two-footed.

As I’ve mentioned many times in this column, effective power shooting has a huge impact on the final score of a game. And when I say effective power shooting, I mean fast balls, line drives, not curve balls or knuckling efforts.

It always unsettles me to watch the Revs’ pre-game shooting/keeper warm-up drills, because the emphasis seems to be exclusively on curved shots to the corners from the 18-yard-line. There’s nothing wrong with these shots, but the likes of Kamara, Nguyen, Fagundez, Rowe, and Aguelo could all benefit from warming up their power shots too. Any team that masters the power shot will have the kind of advantage that can determine the success of a whole season, like whether or not it makes the playoffs.

The Revs were better from a statistical standpoint than the Earthquakes in this game. It gripes me that something eminently correctable — deficient shooting technique – allowed them to leave two points on the pitch Wednesday. And after the Revs missed out on the playoffs tied on points with Philadelphia – who clinched the final berth via goal differential, mind you – it’s completely inexcusable.


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