New England's soccer club finished their season by taking three points from a desperate Montreal Impact team on Sunday afternoon, but any short-term positive memory will remain overshadowed by the fact that this season was nothing but disappointing. Diego Fagundez was the one to put the ball in the back of the net in the second half to put the Revolution in the lead, and that was enough to win the game. Brad Friedel made all of the right moves for the team's final game of the season, but the moves that supporters will want him -- and Mike Burns -- to get right are those from now until March.
Let's look at the starting 11...
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There were some interesting personnel decisions to start the game on Sunday afternoon. Matt Turner got the nod in goal for the first time since the first day of September. In front of him, Antonio Delamea started alongside Michael Mancienne with Brandon Bye and Zach Herivaux to the left and right of them, respectively. Kelyn Rowe, Diego Fagundez, and Luis Caicedo split the responsibility in the midfield, with Caicedo sitting under the other two. Cristian Penilla and Juan Agudelo played on the wings, while Teal Bunbury played the lone forward role in between them.
Responding to a scheme
Only a couple of minutes after the initial whistle it was clear that Montreal manager Remi Garde had directed his team to sit back and force the Revs to break them down. Garde sent his team out in a 4-3-3, that ended up looking more like a 4-5-1 on defense. I've pulled some images of what it looked like on the broadcast.
Here's a look at the midfield and defending lines deeper in their half.
This a common strategy for teams that play the Revolution. There seems to be a league-wide recognition from other coaches that the Revs can't break teams down if you pack it in -- and I would agree. In most games where this is the case, the Revs don't have what it takes to pull apart other teams. On Sunday however, the Revs were able to do just enough to walk out of their final game of the 2018 season with three points.
So, how did the Revs respond? Their midfielders dropped out of the space in the middle of the field and received the ball just in front of their back line. The hope was that the opposing midfielders would follow them into that space and open up channels for the next pass to penetrate lines of defenders. But, Montreal remained disciplined and didn't take the bait. So it became the responsibility of the other players in the front six to make runs and get into spaces to assist in breaking down the Impact.
Although the three starting midfielders did a good job of it throughout the game, Fagundez did an excellent job of this early in the 25th minute. Caicedo did just as well to make the run that put him behind the defense, and gave Fagundez the opportunity to break two lines with just one pass.
We didn't get to see many opportunities for the New England club to manage games down the back half of the season, but they managed this one as if they were doing it week in and week out. They made all the right moves. When you're up, it's smart to make plays that take time off the clock even if it costs you a blatant foul here or a yellow card there.
Friedel's side picked up two yellow cards in the final 10 minutes of the game and they were both in efforts to take time off the clock. Andrew Farrell received a yellow card for time wasting in the 83rd minute and Wilfried Zahibo picked up his yellow late in the 89th minute for committing a blatant foul that slowed up a Montreal break towards Turner's net.
Additionally, in the 93rd minute Zahibo played a fantastic pass to Fagundez towards Montreal's net but instead of taking on the defender to create a scoring chance, he took the ball into the corner. By the time the defenders were able to take the ball off Fagundez and clear it out the other way, almost 20 seconds fell off of the game clock.