BSJ Match #22 Breakdown: Revolution 4, D.C. United 3 – Revs display resilience and confidence in sloppy thriller

There was no shortage of entertainment in this one on Sunday night. With sloppy defensive efforts from both teams, the goal total reached seven and made for a roller-coaster of a game. Given the weather and the playoff situation for both teams, it shouldn't have been much of a surprise that this game got a little wild.

Let's look at the starting 11...

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Three changes in the Revolution's lineup compared to last game. Teal Bunbury and Tajon Buchanan re-entered the lineup on the wings with Adam Buksa playing the lone forward spot between them. In the midfield, Carles Gil received his first start since the MLS Is Back tournament and played alongside Scott Caldwell and Tommy McNamara. Across the back, from left to right, it was Alexander Butter, Henry Kessler, Andrew Farrell, and DeJuan Jones. Matt Turner started in goal.


Formation observations

To start the game, Arena sent his team out in the normal 4-5-1 that they've been playing for the last couple of months. You can get a decent idea of what it looked like - on average - in the below image.

There's a clear designation between Gil's position in the midfield and Buksa's position as the lone forward. Gil didn't often float up near Buksa, but rather back into the midfield among Caldwell and McNamara to get on the ball.

Of course, the team's play in the formation put them in a 2-1 hole at the end of the first half, but if you ask me that was more about the personnel and their individual play that a hole in the strategy of the formation.

But at the turn of the half the team's formation changed slightly after a personnel change. Scott Caldwell was removed from the game and Gustavo Bou made his return to the field. Of course, Bou can't be trusted with a box-to-box midfield role because of his serious lack of fitness required for that responsibility. So Arena changed things up and rolled the team out in a 4-4-2.

I - and many others, I'm sure - suspected that they might shift into a 4-4-2 because of Bou's entry, but it was confirmed shortly after the half started. Take a look at this screenshot late in the 48th minute.

As you can see, Bou was given the role of floating high near Buksa to play as a forward to create plays. He rarely dipped deep into the midfield, and was cleared of responsibility to defend much of anyone aside from putting pressure on the D.C. defenders.

You'll also notice that the 4-4-2 was more of a diamond in the midfield because of the strengths of the players playing there. McNamara played deeper because he's better at covering ground defensively, and Gil played higher because he's simply one of the best playmakers on the team. Obviously, Bunbury and Buchanan played on the wings. Bye looks to be playing at the same height of the midfielders in this frame only because he pressed on to challenge for the header.

Simply looking at the boxscore, one might think that the team should consider playing the 4-4-2 more often. The front six played well together and produced at a high rate and the defense was stingy; only allowing the opponent a measly two shots on goal.

With Bou present and healthy, it will be interesting to see how Arena uses him going forward and the implications it will have on the team's formation.

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