This game probably didn't get the best television ratings, attract any extra viewers, or convert any new fans to the team or the game of soccer. But, for those that stayed up that watch the entire game, it was rewarding to see a team that has been in good form succeed on the road against a Western Conference opponent that was on a tear previous to Thursday night. The New England Revolution outlasted the Colorado Rapids on the Fourth of July in a game that seemed as though it would never end.
Let's look at the starting 11...
[caption id="attachment_516897" align="aligncenter" width="427"] Headshots from revolutionsoccer.net.[/caption]
Nothing too out of the ordinary in Bruce Arena's starting 11 on the Fourth of July match. Across the back, it was Edgar Castillo at left back, Antonio Delamea at left center back, Andrew Farrell at right center back, and Brandon Bye at right back. I struggled to determine what the formation was officially, but the midfield consisted of Carles Gil, Wilfried Zahibo, and Luis Caicedo. Juan Agudelo appeared to play more of the left side while Zahibo and L. Caicedo seemed to occupy most of the center midfield. Teal Bunbury played on the right side of the field -- presumably, the right wing -- and Juan Fernando Caicedo played the lone forward role. Matt Turner got the nod in goal.
Condensing the midfield: I wasn't sure what caused the Rapids so much trouble in the attack against the Revolution until a second watch of the film. But I found that much of their trouble had to do with the effort put forth by the Revolution midfielders and the players on the wing that pinched in to assist with defense.
When I was watching the game, it wasn't clear to me what formation New England was playing. I couldn't tell if they were running in a 4-4-2 or a 4-5-1. It almost seemed as if Bunbury would pick and choose when he would press higher, and when he would hang back on the right wing to play a more conservative role in a less ambitious defense.
I thought the Revs did a particularly great job of bringing their opposite midfielders into the defense to help clog the middle of the field. For instance, if the ball was on Brandon Bye's side of the field, Juan Agudelo would pinch in to add an extra man in the midfield to help defend and make it harder for Kellyn Acosta and company to get anything going through the middle of the pitch.
Here's a screenshot of what it looked like.
Set pieces: Soccer is a cruel game. Unfortunately for the Rapids, the Revolution took advantage of their physical advantage. New England was just a little more clean in their distribution and little more assertive in their play-making ability to get ahead on the scoreboard.
Subliminally, the credit should go to Carles Gil. Gil makes plays out the most inopportune chances. His service is good enough that he can create a chance out of nothing.
On the other side of the service, Juan Fernando Caicedo finished the opportunity on the Revs' second goal. He rose above the Colorado defenders and put his team above the red shirts. I wish I could say the game was more reflective of longer efforts from every player on the pitch; but because of the nature of the game, a couple of players were able to change the outcome of the game.
It shouldn't be a surprise, though. Gil has been providing perfect service for this team for weeks and it gives them a serious advantage. If this team finds themselves in a spot where their strength is set pieces, then fine, it may be what gets them through the season. But if the opponent can find a way to stop the likes of Bunbury, J, Caicedo, Agudelo, Anibaba, and Bye then the Revolution will have to find another way to get in a rhythm and balls in the goal.