The Revolution played something that resembled a pretty good soccer match in the first half tonight, creating chances and defending as a team. Still, they entered the locker rooms tied up at 0-0, due largely to some wasteful finishing, arguably on both sides.
Jay Heaps set out a lineup that looked problematic at first, but in an unexpected move, the formation turned out to be something more akin to a 4-1-4-1 rather than the 4-4-1-1 seen in games previous. The change also featured bringing Kelyn Rowe and Lee Nguyen centrally to support Jerry Bengtson and link him with the defense. Kalifa Cisse patrolled the deep parts of the pitch, and having Ryan Guy at left wing provided the prospect of actual width.
The Revs came out with the first clear chance in the tenth minute, and it could have been the best in a half that featured several pretty clear chances. Diego Fagundez played in Nguyen on the right. The skillful playmaker dribbled to the byline and drilled a low cross parallel to goal. It spilled to Rowe on the goal's doorstep but somehow the second-year man put it over.
A second glorious chance was wasted in the 16th. Rowe's long throw was headed back to him, and he made a move to the byline before drilling in a cross. Stephen McCarthy was all alone, but his header was blocked off the line and fell to Cisse, who somehow pulled his shot wide despite being about seven yards from the goal.
In the 22nd minute, Raymon Gaddis mis-controlled a backpass, putting Fagundez through on goal. His shot from a tight angle was saved by MacMath, and on the ensuing corner, Bengtson got a header on frame but MacMath was able to handle it easily.
Kelyn Rowe again wasted a chance in the 35th minute. Lee Nguyen got Chris Tierney open on the left, and the latter's first-time cross found Rowe unmarked in the box. Somehow, Rowe managed to head the ball almost backwards, likely deflecting it off his shoulder.
The final minutes of the half saw Philly get their chances, but Bobby Shuttleworth was more than equal to the task. First he snuffed a Danny Cruz chance, and then in the 40the minute he had an excellent save on Michael Farfan when the Union man probably should have scored. Finally, Shuttleworth again took the ball off the feet of Cruz in the 45th minute, keeping the Union off the scoreboard.
The match has been totally atypical of a normal Revolution match. They've held 55.7% of the possession, completed 75.6% of passes, and attempted more passes than their opponents. Furthermore, they're winning the shot battle 8-4, with the same number of on-target shots (2) and blocked shots (1). They've also had nine open-play crosses. All in all, it's been a hungry performance for the Revs.
Kelyn Rowe, though he has wasted chances, has also been one of the most energetic presences on the pitch. It's really been Cisse's game, though. He's done everything, ranging laterally, getting forward, covering for the back line, winning balls, and distributing to his teammates. It has helped to have some natural width out of Ryan Guy, who has been a game-changer, and Fagundez has been good on the right.