FOXBOROUGH -- The 2019 home opener will be one that the staff and players want to forget. In the end, Brad Friedel and Co. were outclassed and undeserving of earning their first three-point collection. It seems as though Caleb Porter hasn't missed a beat in maintaining Columbus' success as they breezed their way to their first road win of the season.
Let's look at the starting 11...
[caption id="attachment_493359" align="aligncenter" width="416"] Headshots from revolutionsoccer.net.[/caption]
There was only one change in Brad Friedel's starting 11 in Week 2. Michael Mancienne was healthy and back in his place at left center back alongside Antonio Delamea. Aside from that, everything remained unchanged from the FC Dallas match. Edgar Castillo and Brandon Bye played at outside back (on the same sides). Scott Caldwell and Wilfried Zahibo played in behind Carles Gil, who floated under and -- at times -- alongside Juan Agudelo, who started at the No. 9. Cristian Penilla and Teal Bunbury played on the wings, and Brad Knighton received his second straight start in goal.
Defending the Crew: Columbus is a really fun team to watch. From an observer's standpoint, their tactics are brilliantly displayed and their movement is admirable. We're going to take a deeper look into what made the Crew so difficult for Friedel's unit to handle.
Unlike most other teams in MLS, the Crew -- and specifically Wil Trapp -- do a really good job of transforming when they're on the ball by dropping a midfielder into the back line. This does a couple of things for the Crew, and makes defending more challenging for the Revolution. First of all, dropping a midfielder into the back line opens up more space in the midfield. It frees up space for the forwards and wingers to roam into the midfield and find passing channels to receive the ball from Trapp and the center backs. The layout of the game -- when the Crew were on the ball -- often looked like this (Columbus represented by yellow, fittingly).
You can see that the outside backs, Waylon Francis and Harrison Afful, pushed high (often just in front of the Revolution back line). They effectively became makeshift wingers and the forwards/wingers can drop into the space and find space that the Revs left. This also pulled The Boys In Blue out of position and caused them cover extra ground to cover the opponents. Several times throughout the match, you could see that Teal Bunbury and Brandon Bye were pulled into the other's position by following their marks.
This screenshot of the game in the 13th minute almost perfectly depicts what I'm explaining. You can see that Justin Meram is dropped low in an attempt to receive the ball (pulling Bye out of his position at right back), and Francis is pushed high (pushing Bunbury down into the back line).
By the middle of the second half, it was evident that all of this chasing was taking a toll on the Revolution players. They looked fatigued by the 65th minute and it was a good thing that Friedel was able to bring on some fresh legs so early in the match; otherwise, I think Columbus would've continued to wear down Revolution players even further.
What was missing in the attack?