BSJ Match #21 Breakdown: Revolution 0, Red Bulls 1 – Revs’ corner defending scheme fails again

In one of the choppier games of the 2020 season, the Revolution fell to the Red Bulls late because of yet another goal conceded on a corner. The corner was a result of the team's consistently unsuccessful zone/man hybrid - or whatever Bruce Arena thinks it is - scheme and it's still costing them points. There were some positive takeaways from the game but it wasn't enough to bring them even with the opponent.

Let's look at the starting 11...

[caption id="attachment_590348" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Headshots from[/caption]

Adam Buksa started back at his spot as the lone forward, with Kelyn Rowe and Kekuta Manneh playing on the wings around him. In the midfield it was Diego Fagundez and Tommy McNamara with Scott Caldwell running below them. Across the back, from left to right, it was Alexander Buttner, Henry Kessler, Andrew Farrell, and DeJuan Jones. Matt Turner started in goal.


Note: The game was blacked out, so I don't have access to film in this breakdown. I only have access to the highlights on the league website. 

Defending corners

I covered this last game, and I will cover it every time the Revolution continue to defend corners this way when all it does is hurt them. To reiterate (in case I have any new readers this week), the Revolution's strategy to defend corners is a hybrid of man and zone marking. They take some of their best aerial players and line them up across the 6-yard box, and then place the remaining players - who are often the smaller frames - man-mark the opponent's runners into the box.

It has failed several times.

Take a look at the screenshot below.

As you can see, these are the man-marking players lining up against some of the Reb Bulls' strong aerial players. Tajon Buchanan is marking Samuel Tetteh (fine by me, decent matchup), Matt Polster is marking two players (not fine by me), Tommy McNamara is marking Aaron Long, who is arguably the Red Bulls' best aerial threat (not fine by me), and Brandon Bye on Tom Barlow (fine by me).

Obviously, as I pointed out, there are some problems there. Polster shouldn't be marking two players, and McNamara definitely should not be marking the other team's biggest threat in the box. When the ball was served into the box it only took Long about half a second to break free from McNamara, and the Revs' defenders on the 6-yard box were completely stagnant.

It shouldn't have to be said again, but the coaching staff needs to address it. It's not working and it's costing them in big moments.

Look at the image below, taken just as the ball was served in from the corner.

Look at Andrew Farrell, Adam Buksa, and Henry Kessler (the team's best aerial players) lined up across the six.

My problem with that? What space are they marking that Matt Turner cover? We know Turner to be solid in his decision making, and explosive off of his line; so why aren't they trusting him with that space? It doesn't make sense. It looks like a high school soccer team scheme that was drawn up by their coach who also teaches PE and Health.

Observations from Nguyen/Gil