Note: This was written before Brad Friedel's firing.
Things are scary for the soccer club over on Route 1. New England fell to the Chicago Fire in a mid-week matchup that left fans, media, and probably the staff/players themselves wondering just how bad things may get during the 2019 season. Brad Friedel and Co. were outwitted, outclassed, and utterly embarrassed on their way to collecting the league's worst goal differential.
Let's look at the starting 11...
[caption id="attachment_506422" align="aligncenter" width="428"] Headshots from revolutionsoccer.net.[/caption]
It was another massive change for the starting 11 this week in Bridgeview, Illinois. The Revs were back to the 4-5-1, and Juan Fernando Caicedo gave them height at the lone forward position. Below him, Carles Gil played in his normal role at attacking center midfield. Diego Fagundez and Tajon Buchanan ran the wings to start the match as Wilfried Zahibo supported the defensive midfield with Luis Caicedo. Andrew Farrell played at right back, just to the right of Antonio Delamea. On the left side of the defense, Edgar Castillo started at outside back and Jalil Anibaba played just inside of him at center back.
Direct play early in the game: Possession was the key to the game in the first half, and the team that did a better -- more mature -- job of leveraging it came out on top after 45 minutes. Chicago strolled of the gate very composed. They read the game early and observed that the Revs were not going to press on their defenders. After about 10 minutes, the Fire became comfortable on the ball and they could settle into the Revolution's half (see second takeaway).
On the other end, the opposite couldn't have been more true. Every player in blue (with the exception of Fagundez and Gil) was shaky on the ball and too slow in possession. Friedel's players consistently took more than 2-3 touches on the ball and trotted in between touches which slowed the play down to a crippling level. That made their teammates' jobs more difficult when the ball arrived to them and allowed the opponent more time to recover.
As a result, many of New England's passes were long, direct, and destined for the opposition or the end line/sideline. The problem was especially prevalent on the right side of the field. Just look at Farrell's distribution in the first 20 minutes alone.
[caption id="attachment_506457" align="aligncenter" width="354"] MLSsoccer.com[/caption]
The possession outcome in the first 20 minutes showed through in the attacking third, as the Fire put five shots on Matt Turner's goal and the Revolution couldn't generate a single one on David Ousted.
[caption id="attachment_506471" align="aligncenter" width="512"] MLSsoccer.com[/caption]
New England couldn't adjust to the Fire's tendencies for the rest of the first half and the Fire continued to harass. The home team finished with 11 total shots by the end of the first half and the Revolution finished with Fagundez's lone shot that came from what seemed like 30-plus yards out.
Breaking down Chicago's movement