BSJ Match #11 Breakdown: Revolution 1, Philadelphia 2 – Revs result not as bad as it appears

Despite the result, the Revolution should be proud of this one. Their efforts after they went down a man were admirable and showed that this group can hang around some of the best in the league against the odds. The red card call against Matt Polster was questionable and might not have gone that way under different circumstances, but they were still able to find a way to fight their way back into the game.

Let's look at the starting 11...

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There was only one change in the back line, as Henry Kessler returned to the starting lineup alongside Andrew Farrell. Brandon Bye played as the right back and Alexander Buttner played as the left back. Matt Polster held down the defensive midfield position with Kelyn Rowe above him as the attacking midfielder. Tommy McNamara and Cristian Penilla played on the outside of the midfield diamond. Adam Buksa and Teal Bunbury played as the forwards. Matt Turner started in goal.


Union press

It was pretty evident right from the start of the game that Jim Curtin advised his guys to press on the Revolution when they were on the ball. Although it was more evident in their pressure on the ball all over the field (the Union would press hard after losing it), it was still obvious to see that their line of contention was high when the Revolution were deep in their own end. See below, when Farrell was on the ball deep early in the game.

Given that the Union have seen enough of Arena's Revs since he took over, their coaching staff must not have had a lot of trust in the Revolution midfield on the ball. In other words, Curtin was encouraging Arena's side to try and build out of the press. Obviously, his hopes were that the white shirts would struggle with this pressure on the ball and give the ball away early. This would do a couple of things: 1) make the Revolution less eager to get - and stay - on the ball, 2) force turnovers in the Union's attacking third, and 3) eventually wear down New England's midfield/defense over time.

Unfortunately for them, none of those things really happened enough for me to consider it a success. While he was on the field, Matt Polster did a good job of dropping deep to get on the ball to help alleviate the pressure and distribute out wide and up top. Also, Kelyn Rowe did a good job of matching the high energy that the Philadelphia midfield was bringing to the game. The defense and the midfield never really cracked and did a good job of handling the opponent's strategy.


I think the Revolution were extremely unlucky in the way Polster received his red card, or rather, combination of yellows. The first yellow card that he was given came on his first foul; a foul that likely doesn't receive a yellow card in most situations that early in the game. However, the game is built in a way that the players are at the mercy of the officials' decision and it isn't worth spending as much time on the call itself.

And that was exactly the attitude of Bruce Arena and his team following the booking in the 56th minute. I was impressed by the rhythmic nature of the manager's substitutions and the purpose behind both sets (whether it was deliberate or not).

But first, it's worth covering the formation that gave them so much success at stymying the Union attack for so long once they went down. Almost immediately