Even though both teams made it through the Group Stage in the MLS is Back Tournament, the New England Revolution and the Philadelphia Union lacked creativity and discipline in the attacking third. Fitness appeared to play a role in that as both teams faded about 20 minutes into the second half, foreshadowing an ultimately scoreless game.
Let's look at the starting 11...
[caption id="attachment_579689" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Headshots from revolutionsoccer.net.[/caption]
The Revolution introduced their newest addition to the starting 11 on Thursday night with Matt Polster stepping in alongside Kelyn Rowe in the center midfield. Gustavo Bou also played in the center midfield but in a more attacking role. Cristian Penilla and Teal Bunbury played on the left and right wings, respectively. Across the back (from left to right) it was Alexander Buttner, Henry Kessler, Andrew Farrell, and Brandon Bye. Adam Buksa played the lone forward role and Matt Turner started in goal.
I had to cover this first. The Revs' set piece play to open the regular season was atrocious. They earned five free kicks in the attacking third of the field and didn't generate a shot on goal in one of them. The service itself was actually fairly decent on the free kicks (I can't say the same for the corners), but the runs on the other end were not.
In other words, the overall coordination of the runs on the other end of the free kicks was poor. Take a look at the set piece below.
I have serious problems with this one. Start by looking at Gustavo Bou and Brandon Bye. Both of those players had only just turned around by the time Kelyn Rowe approached the ball to serve it in. So not only is this a poor effort; but it shows a serious lack of professionalism from the players on the field. None of the Revolution players in the box were even able to create separation between their defenders to break the line of defense. The Union's back line was completely unpenetrated, which tells you none of the runners in the box had any faith they would create anything out of the free kick.
Sure, your coach isn't present because of the red card, but that doesn't give the players the excuse to be careless. With the athleticism of players like Adam Buksa, Andrew Farrell, Teal Bunbury, Brandon Bye, and Matt Polster, this team needs to be able to cause problems for any opposition's defense.
The crossing game
If you didn't watch the game, the Revolution crossed the ball a ridiculous amount of times on Thursday night. To be exact, the statistics had them for 45 crosses by the end of the game and only three of them connected. Now, a cross doesn't have to connect to its target in order for it to be a thoughtful cross or to be a dangerous cross that causes problems for the other team; but I can't even give the Revs credit for that.
I'm surprised the coaching staff