New England Soccer Today

Adjustments Key to Victory

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Jay Heaps is often wont to classify a close win as “hard fought” during the opening remarks of his post-game press conferences. But Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Montreal was different.

The Impact abandoned their preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, giving the Revolution a look it wasn’t expecting. As a result, the locals found themselves in match that was fairly even throughout.

“I thought it was a very good tactical match,” Heaps said. “They obviously came out in that 3-5-2 and that was a little different, something they haven’t played a ton of, so we had to adjust.”

The adjustments took some of the wind out of the Revolution’s sails. A week ago, the likes of Lee Nguyen, Teal Bunbury, and Kei Kamara turned the pitch at Gillette Stadium into a training ground scoring clinic.

Saturday, though, was a different beast. With Montreal a far more formidable foe than the Orlando City side that took a four-goal licking, New England had to tweak their gameplan on the fly.

“I thought we did a really good job adjusting, giving up space when we could,” Heaps said. “I thought in the first half, we were a little anxious. I thought we were winning the ball in great spots, but we weren’t particularly dangerous when we made that forward pass to break lines. And when we did make one, then we usually went backwards with it so that we allowed them to get back behind the ball.”

Indeed, the Impact played with a comfort level rarely seen by visiting squads. They outshot the Revolution 4-3 at the half, and shortly after the break, Anthony Jackson-Hamel nearly made the hosts pay on a sitter he inexplicably botched.

Despite the scare, Revolution goalkeeper Cody Cropper was quick to point out the team’s defensive shape, as well as the strong performances of those in front of him, for securing the win.

“I think we’ve really locked down our back four and [Xavier] Kouassi and Gershon [Koffie] have been huge for us, and realizing in certain situations when we need to defend and when they can go forward,” Cropper said. “I think that Toni [Delamea] and Claude [Dielna] obviously have been huge addition[s], happy to have Toni back and we just have a lot of strength at the back now.”

That strength allowed New England to seize the lead on a moment of brilliance. In the 68th minute, Bunbury spotted Nguyen near the box, where the creative midfielder took on a defender then ripped a low drive that beat Evan Bush.

Was Saturday’s match as thrilling or emphatic was the one authored a week ago? By no means. But with the air getting cooler, and the leaves on the cusp of changing colors, it was the kind of outing the Revolution needed to show they’re capable of making a late-season push.

“Overall, I thought it took an entire team performance,” Heaps said. “From great goalkeeping – the first play of the game, Cody has to make a huge save in the first minute or two of that game. From that point on, I felt like we were solid defensively, but obviously it takes everyone on the field to get a goal and get three points.”

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