Brad Friedel and Co. have earned their first win since June 30th, against a New York City FC team that hasn't lost at home all season and it came at just the right time. In a game where Friedel clearly made statement moves in his starting unit, the team needed to come up with something big. They did just that by shutting out a very talented NYCFC in Yankee Stadium and keeping their playoff hopes alive.
Let's look at the starting 11...
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There were some big changes in the starting 11 on Wednesday night. Second-year player Brian Wright was given his first MLS start as the Revolution's lone forward. Cristian Penilla and Kelyn Rowe played on the left and right wings while Cristhian Machado sat in between them at central attacking midfield. With Rowe generally floating higher in the attacking midfield space, Wilfried Zahibo and Scott Caldwell shared the rest of the space in the midfield. The back line remained the same with Brandon Bye playing as the left back and Andrew Farrell playing his usual role at right back. Michael Mancienne sat in the right center back role while Jalil Anibaba played alongside him at the left center back role. Brad Friedel made his first change in goal for the first time this season as Brad Knighton replaced Matt Turner in goal. Surely some of the changes were statement moves but they felt justified at this point in the season.
The turning point
Soccer is a game is small moments. It's a long game with little breaks for the players and it is often made in small moments that players take advantage of. On Wednesday night, the Revolution had a player that made one of those plays. You have to wonder if Friedel had seen something in Brian Wright in training day in and day out during this spring and this summer. He had Wright floating in and out of the lineup throughout the season, and Wright showed flashes of play-making ability in those small moments.
Then, he took advantage of his biggest opportunity of the season and scored a goal-scorer's goal when it mattered most. Some players make big plays in those small moments and Wright showed that capability on Wednesday night. Cristian Penilla earned himself enough space halfway through the second half to take a blistering shot on Sean Johnson that he couldn't handle. It was hit well and had enough power behind it that earned the shot another chance on net. Wright got himself in the right position to give himself a chance at the rebound, which he tactically popped over Johnson to put the Revolution ahead with just over 20 minutes in the second half.
One of the best views of the goal was provided in one of the replays. The view below shows the little time that Wright had to react and get the ball on net. He shapes the ball correctly (using the inside of his left foot to keep it from curving to the outside of the net) and ensures that the ball remains on the goal-side of the post.
Credit has to be given to Diego Fagundez for not forcing one of the earlier options in the run of play and making the patient play to hold for the oncoming Penilla, who had a better angle on goal. These are the little things that separate plays that don't end up in the back of the net, and those that do.
This turned the game on its side and allowed Friedel to sub off a fatigued Brian Wright for a young and energetic Isaac Angking. This was a great move from Friedel that put his team in the best position to go on and win the game.
Defending in crucial areas