BSJ Match #8 Breakdown: Revolution 1, NYRB 1 – Revs struggle to crack Red Bulls’ approach

(Getty Images)

This game won't make any of the headlines this week. Neither team was able to decipher what the other was bringing at them, and the result was a game that didn't see much action on goal. The New York Red Bulls came at the Revolution with a high defensive line that clogged many of their passing channels, and the Red Bulls couldn't find a consistent way to break down the Revs' back line.

Let's look at the starting 11...

[caption id="attachment_581301" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Headshots from[/caption]

There was only one personnel change against New York, as Diego Fagundez replaced Kelyn Rowe in the lineup. Across the back (from left to right), it was Alexander Buttner, Henry Kessler, Andrew Farrell, and Brandon Bye. In the midfield, it was an interchanging diamond between Fagundez, Teal BunburyCristian Penilla, and Gustavo Bou. Adam Buksa played as the forward, while Matt Turner played in goal.


The Red Bulls' high line

If you watch the Revolution on a regular basis, and you're honest, you know that they can struggle with working the ball through the middle of the field with their midfielders alone. Often, it takes a roaming Gustavo Bou (or another forward/winger) to slide into the midfield and help out. Even then, the Revolution still have problems working through the middle of the field.

So, Chris Armas sent his players out in a system that would hold a high defensive line to effectively cut off the connection between the Revs' back line and the center midfielders. It looked a little like this...

[caption id="attachment_581461" align="alignnone" width="1600"] Revolution are depicted in white, Red Bulls are depicted in red.[/caption]

This system forced the Revolution defenders to play fast and the midfielders to move more actively off of the ball. But neither of those player groups were able to do either of those things for New England. Instead, they opted for long balls over the top of that Red Bulls line. Most of those passes were vertical (i.e. Farrell would play directly to Bunbury or another streaking forward/midfielder), which the Red Bulls welcomed because it was unsuccessful.

New York's back line is physical, and Chris Armas mentioned before the game that they wanted to encourage physical play in whatever part of the field that they could. The whole idea worked well for them because New England couldn't figure out an effective way to play the ball on the ground through the opponent. See their passing map for the first 20 minutes - where this effect was most noticeable - below: