They didn't dominate possession, they weren't overly dominant in their physical play, and they snuck past a couple of crippling bounces but the Revolution were just slightly more disciplined than the Los Angeles Galaxy when it mattered most. Under their new head coach Bruce Arena, the Revs rallied as a unit to add three more points to their season total in this arduous road fixture; leaving them just two points out of a playoff spot as they approach the season's halfway mark.
Let's look at the starting 11...
[caption id="attachment_510992" align="aligncenter" width="429"] Headshots from revolutionsoccer.net[/caption]
Bruce Arena's starting 11 on Sunday night didn't look much different that what we would have expected if Mike Lapper were still the coach for the Revs' trip to Carson, Calif. Teal Bunbury got the start at the lone forward position while Cristian Penilla and Diego Fagundez ran the left and right wings on either side of him. Carles Gil and Juan Agudelo played in the center midfield in front of Luis Caicedo, although we saw more the front two dropping deeper. Across the back (from left to right) it was DeJuan Jones, Jalil Anibaba, Andrew Farrell, and Brandon Bye. Brad Knighton got the nod in goal in lieu of Matt Turner's red card suspension.
New movement: I first noticed it in the 21st minute, just after Brad Knighton assertively collected an incoming Galaxy pass intended for a rapidly approaching Chris Pontius. After his collection, he immediately picked his head up and searched for a short option. He looked to Brandon Bye first but decided to wait for a safer option. When the Galaxy dropped off he calmly slid the ball to the foot of Andrew Farrell.
While this was happening, the outside backs -- Bye and Jones -- took off up the sidelines, pulling defenders high with them and forcing the opponent to make a decision; they could drop off with the outside back and give the center backs space, or step in the passing channel to block the avenue of the potential pass up the sideline. Usually, the Revolution team we knew under Brad Friedel would direct his back line to remain relatively flat, while the goalkeeper plays the ball long into a high target, hoping to win the resulting second ball. It looked more like this.
Instead, the Revolution seemed to adopt a more patient and mature idea. Spread the center backs wide and push the outside backs higher. It looked like this (Bye isn't even in the picture because of his position up the field).
What this does is help to stretch the opponent, and open up space for the midfield to utilize. The center backs get better looks into the midfield and the tracking Galaxy defenders have more ground to cover.
The result? The Revolution were able to break Galaxy lines, pass out of the back and the midfield before Agudelo's pass went just out of reach and over the line. It was a brilliant example of moving the ball up, back, and through in a live setting. I've pulled the clip for you to see below.