All bark no bite is how I eventually summarized the toothless New England Revolution attack we saw Saturday against New York Red Bulls. For most of the match New England was able to control possession and move the ball around at will. Usually this constant control of the ball (59.2% possession) will yield chances on net and eventually goals, yet the Revs with some good opportunities were shut out. Let's figure out why.
1. Crossing: Too often were crosses swung in early and rarely did they clear the first line of defense. These were easily cleared. Taking the ball further to the touch line and drawing defenders could have helped or changed the complexion of the situation in the box.
2. Set Pieces: We had two very good dead ball opportunities well within shooting range. Chris Tierney rifled one off the Red Bull wall in the first half and Benny Feilhaber, late in the game, opted for a redirect chance off a low ball which was parried away. I'm sorry but Benny needs to put that on net, upper 90, near side that late in the game. Let's throw corner kicks into this category too. Four of the Revs' five corner kicks went right at Ryan Meara. Unacceptable.
3. Runs: Some of those weak crosses could have been dangerous if Saer Sene or Jose Moreno made a diagonal run to the near post. Too often were our forwards not ball side of crosses. Call it congestion or call it confusion, Sene and Moreno made the same run several times drifting to the back post and were on top of each other at times. The midfield shares some of the blame here. Ryan Meara did have a good game. He was certainly tested, but someone left the hard questions off the test. He was offering up tons of juicy rebounds and in a different game those rebounds could have seen Meara punished severely to the tune of three to four goals. The Revs never found themselves on the end of those rebounds. Sometimes that's luck, but I attribute much of Saturday's dry spell to no one making any secondary runs, a stacked run behind the forwards that hovers the 18' yard line anticipating a bad clearance, a rebound or a one-time finish.
4. Off the Ball Movement: Way too much walking around or standing around riding the Red Bull back line. Frustrating to watch some midfielders lose possession while their potential targets stood still in dead space offering poor options. I know parts of Moreno and Sene's game is too receive the ball with the back to the net and one touch it back, but sometimes they have to hold it or attempt to turn with ball and have a chance on net.
5. Follow Up Chances: Saer Sene's had an attempt on net in the first half that deflected on GK Ryan Meara then hit the post. If Sene had followed that rebound, there's a good chance he could have hopped over Meara and tapped it in. Benny Feilhaber's late header off a beautiful Shalrie Joseph pass reiterated this simple, basic principle as he his head ball chance hit Meara who offered up a teasing rebound to which Feilhaber gave himself no chance as he put his head in hands in disgust at missing the first chance. In my perch in the away supporters section it looked bad. It made me say mean things about Benny that I don't truly mean. But after watching the replay he didn't have as a great of a chance as I thought he did in real-time. Regardless, it's the principle, he needs to put himself in position to respond to Meara possibly bobbling the ball in his recovery. If you are a World Cup veteran and a leader, you can't do stuff like put your head in your hands while the ball is still live.
Let's not forget luck as well. I'm just tired of saying we're unlucky. In that match, with their defense in the shape it was and with the control of possession we had, the Revs shouldn't have needed luck. An obvious red card that wasn't issued along with a hand ball in the box could have afforded us an easy advantage...but it didn't. Converting chances into goals needs to be Coach Jay Heaps' top priority going forward.
Share below why you think the Revs were unable to get on the board Saturday.