My ill fated game capture series actually lasted for about a third of the regular season, but after a lot of boring 0-0 draws I took it back to the drawing board.
All that meant was really buying a copy of FIFA15 and hope that my experience of watching the AI play itself would just naturally improve. In short, it does not. There's still a lot of dribbling into defenders in midfield and a lot of shooting opportunities blatantly ignored still, but there was some good. Off the ball movement by the computer looks a lot better even if the passes never get attempted.
COLUMBUS CREW (4-2-3-1)
Steve Clark; Hector Jimenez, Michael Parkhurst, Tyson Wahl, Bernardo Anor; Wil Trapp, Tony Tchani; Ethan Finlay, Federico Higuain, Justin Meram; Aaron Schoenfeld
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (4-1-4-1)
Bobby Shuttleworth; Andrew Farrell, A.J. Soares, Jose Goncalves, Darrius Barnes; Scott Caldwell; Diego Fagundez, Daigo Kobayahsi, Lee Nguyen, Kelyn Rowe; Patrick Mullins
Yeah, so the rules, as always, are using the matchday squads which essentially means the last lineup each team used...but the update is a week behind, so that's the Revs starting lineup against the Houston Dynamo from two weeks ago. And that's not a lineup I want going up against the Crew but it will have to do for this virtual matchup.
After you get through the incessant dribbling that leads to a zillion turnovers and players dribbling in circles, there was actually a decent amount of attacking play. But in the first 60 minutes, it was all Columbus and they generated two quality changes in the first half. A Higuain header went well over the bar and a Schoenfeld shot was blocked away for a corner. But the opener was from the one guy who I fear the most on Columbus - Tchani.
Schonfeld played a simple through ball to Finlay on the right side with the Revs defense overcommited and poor Steve Neumann's virtual self decided at the wrong time to stop tracking his man. Finlay then centered across the face of goal to find Tchani on the backpost with a simple open net finish in the 51st.
But the Revs would start the comeback, not surprisingly when Fake Jay Heaps subbed on Jermaine Jones at the hour mark. Jones would rumble forward in the 76th and fire a shot high and wide but it was his influence on the Revs equalizer that is most impressive. Nguyen played a ball to Rowe at the top of the box and Jones overlapped behind Rowe giving him space to move to his left and find a wide open Patrick Mullins and we won't talk about virtual Mullins' finish with his right foot that should've gone to the far (right) post which was wide open but instead he chose to power the ball of the near post and in.
WHY THIS SIMULATION WILL BE RIGHT
Because this game for large stretches might not be pretty, both Trap and Schoenfeld were booked in this game as well as Revs defender Goncalves. None of the fouls were in particularly dangerous positions but since both of these teams like to counter at times, tactical fouls are a good possibility to happen early and often.
I predicted a 1-1 draw with Pat Murphy of Massive Report during our question exchange earlier so the final result doesn't surprise me. While the virtual Revs don't know the fact that they're playing a two-goal away goals aggregate series, they didn't play the game wrong. They sat back and absorbed pressure and hit back when they needed too to get the draw on the road. I'd prefer a little more going forward but I can't help the fact that most of the Revs 55% possession was spent dribbling in a circle at midfield.
WHY THIS SIMULATION WILL BE WRONG
Mostly because not the Revs starting lineup. Jones, Teal Bunbury and Chris Tierney were all sorely missing from this game.I don't think much separates Mullins from Charlie Davies up top in the game, but not having Jones until the final half hour was eerily similar to the game the Revs lost at Columbus two months ago when he subbed on at halftime in the Revs 1-0 loss. Columbus' midfield seemed to win a lot of the battles in the midfield and not because the Revs kept dribbling into tackles.
Also, set pieces will be a huge deal in this series. The only significant free kick in this game was taken from about 40 yards by New England's Scott Caldwell...who did a simple "A" pass to Lee Nguyen who was about 2 yards away from him. Not exactly the way the Revs would normally draw it up with guys like Rowe, Nguyen and Tierney on the field.