Neither Eastern Conference side could pull away from the other on Saturday's MLS matinee. Although New England couldn't earn their second collection of three points in their second game under interim head coach Mike Lapper, they were able to escape from Stade Saputo and the Montreal Impact with one.
Let's look at the starting 11...
[caption id="attachment_508458" align="aligncenter" width="429"] Headshots from revolutionsoccer.net.[/caption]
Not a single change in Mike Lapper's second consecutive starting 11 as head coach. Teal Bunbury started up top as the lone forward, with Cristian Penilla to his left and Juan Agudelo to his right (both on the wings). It was Diego Fagundez and Carles Gil starting in the attacking midfield in front of Luis Caicedo. Across the back from left to right it was Edgar Castillo, Jalil Anibaba, Andrew Farrell, and Brandon Bye. Matt Turner got the nod in net.
1v1 situations, and 50/50 balls: It was no secret, the Montreal Impact directed much of the game (aside from maybe a 15-minute window following the opening whistle of the second half) because they were on the ball for 62% of it. I didn't notice any nuances in the two teams' formations that would result in any direct correlation between their shapes and level of possession. However, it was clear to me that the Impact were beating the Revolution to second balls, winning 50/50's, and tackling more to dispossess the ball.
At the end of the match, the Impact won 13 total tackles to the Revs' six.
[caption id="attachment_508478" align="aligncenter" width="352"] MLSsoccer.com[/caption]
Of course, the number of tackles that each team won is a poor data point alone to diagnose why one team owned more of the ball than the other. But for Remi Garde and his players the formula was simple; expand and slow the game when you're on the ball, then condense and press to win the ball back as soon as possible.
This worked wonders against New England who looked as though the trip up to Canada had taken something out of their legs. Things began to turn around at the 40-minute mark shortly after DeJuan Jones was subbed on the field for Edgar Castillo.
A look into the midfield: The midfield looks like it still has some kinks to work out on the defensive end of the pitch, given that Montreal worked through them without too much trouble; particularly in the first half. This may be the downfall of playing two primarily offensive players in the midfield (Gil and Fagundez), and another who struggles to remain in a disciplined position for an entire 90 minutes (Luis Caicedo).
Consider the situation below. Saphir Taider (one of Montreal's attacking center midfielders) got on the ball around the halfway line and dropped low in front of New England's midfielders, becoming level with the Impact's defensive center midfielder (Samuel Piette). This pulled Diego Fagundez and Luis Caicedo high, while Gil remained lower; likely because he was tracking with Shamit Shome. Taider then played the ball to Jukka Raitala (Montreal center back), who played it into Piette. This drew Gil's pressure, which didn't make too much sense because the other midfielders were already high and matched in numbers (2v2, L. Caicedo/Fagundez on Taider/Piette). All of the Revs' midfielders became flat across the top of the midfield and Piette's pass down to his other center back opened