Match #25 Breakdown & Review: Revolution 0, Union 1 — Disciplined defense holds off desperate NE

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(Philadelphia Union)

The Revolution's playoff hopes took another hit on Saturday night when they fell to the Philadelphia Union following a controversial goal. The Revolution players couldn't break through to put any goals on the scoresheet and had no solutions for the organization and discipline of Jim Curtin's defense.

Let's take a look at the starting 11...

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There were three changes in the lineup from last week and this game marked Cristhian Machado's first MLS start for the Revolution. He played in the midfield alongside Luis Caicedo and Wilfried Zahibo. There was room for him in the midfield because Diego Fagundez played at the lone forward role, while Cristian Penilla and Juan Agudelo played on the wings. The back four also saw a change from last week's game against D.C. United with Brandon Bye at left back, Michael Mancienne at left center back, Jalil Anibaba at right center back, and Andrew Farrell at right back.


Organized opponent

The Philadelphia Union are an extremely organized unit and I believe it's a big part of why they've been as successful as they have been this season. It was clear that it was going to be difficult for the Revs to score against the Union early on. As you can see in the image below, their shape was clear and they held their midfielders deep in their own end when Brad Friedel's players were on the ball.

You can see the Union's midfield was disciplined in the way that they played off of the ball. We know that the Revolution midfielders aren't very good with their movement off of the ball. This means that I knew they were going to struggle with pulling the Union midfielders out of their shape, and they weren't going to open up any passing windows for themselves to penetrate the opponent's back line. These weaknesses up ended up showing through in their play, and it showed on their passing map when the final whistle blew.

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The region that I highlighted is a common area for goals to originate from, and as the map indicates the Revs strung very few passes together in that region.

If you take a look back at the Revs' best scoring chances from this game, most of them were contested by Union players and virtually none of them were taken with no pressure from a Union player. Penilla's shot in the 59th minute was through a defender, Bye's header in the 67th minute was under pressure and there were enough players behind the ball to keep it out of the net, Agudelo's header in the 79th minute was forced to one side of the net because there were two defenders behind the ball on the right side of the net (this is likely why Andre Blake could cheat to his left, otherwise I think that would have gone in; the header was placed well), and Machado couldn't get a clear shot off from Farrell's pass in the 37th minute.

All of those moments were indications that the Union were going to be in the right spots to make the plays that they had to make to keep New England off of the scoring sheet on Saturday night.

Self-induced errors

This game was full of errors from the Revolution in various aspects of the game. They combined for a total of