Despite going ahead early on in the game, the Revolution spent a good portion of the first half on their heels as NYCFC dialed in. Bruce Arena was able to organize his side before the start of the second half in order to adapt to NYCFC's movement, and the Revolution were able to hold on long enough before their second goal virtually sealed the game.
Let's look at the starting 11...
[caption id="attachment_588430" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Headshots from revolutionsoccer.net.[/caption]
Note: As per usual with this opponent, I don't have access to game film so I was only able to work with clips and diagrams/images.
Positioning on the outside
Take a look at the heat maps for Brandon Bye, DeJuan Jones, Diego Fagundez, and Tajon Buchanan over the course of their time on the field.
[caption id="attachment_588556" align="aligncenter" width="450"] Heat map from whoscored.com.[/caption]
Bye and Jones, who - I think - are some of the fittest players on the Revolution roster, were instrumental in the Revolution build going forward. When the outside backs can push on and allow the center backs to pinch up and wide, then it helps to spread out the opposition to make the most of the space in the attacking third.
In other words, when all of the opponents' players are packed into their own end it becomes difficult to find space to pass and move with all of them there. When the backs get up and wide, it allows more space for the midfielders to drop low into that space between the outside backs and the center backs, which opens up more space for the forwards to drop into the midfield, etc.
Coincidentally, New England was actually fairly efficient in running the attack through the outside channels. All of the key passes originated from the outside of the field, and the goal came from a combination that happened in the outside channel.
[caption id="attachment_588557" align="aligncenter" width="350"] Passing map from mlssoccer.com.[/caption]
NYCFC's formational shift