REVOLUTION LINEUP (4-2-3-1)
Bobby Shuttleworth^; Andrew Farrell, A.J. Soares, Jose Goncalves^, Chris Tierney; Jermaine Jones, Scott Caldwell; Teal Bunbury, Lee Nguyen^, Kelyn Rowe; Charlie Davies
RED BULLS LINEUP (4-2-3-1)
Robles^; Eckersley^, Olave^, Sekagya^, Oyongo; Alexander^, McCarty; Sam, Luyindula, Henry; Wright-Phillips^
(^) - Indicates in-form player
There's nothing out of the ordinary for either lineup except for Oyongo filling in a left-back for the suspended Roy Miller. But considering he's the only player in the Red Bulls back line and keeper that's not in-form since he's coming off the bench to start, the simulation could be giving the Red Bulls defense a significant edge despite that unit being inconsistent at times this season. But Luis Robles has been very good all year and the Red Bulls defense is still talented even without the enigmatic Miller serving a two-game suspension.
For the Revs, a slightly different look than their usual 4-1-4-1 so the mirror match is in effect (I hate this tremendously, just trust me, you don't have to watch these things) but it's nice to see Shuttleworth in-form after his stellar second half of the year. Scott Caldwell is the lowest ranked player at 62 Overall in the starting lineup for the Revs, Oyongo also at 62 Overall is the lowest ranked for the Red Bulls. Both players are in theory lining up against 66 Overall players with Oyongo marking Revs RM Bunbury and Caldwell going up against Red Bulls CAM Luyindula.
Six minutes in a nifty combination from Caldwell to Rowe gives the Revs their first cross into the box, but naturally it comes to nothing. Their next cross ten minutes later from Bunbury, who's switched with Rowe on the left, finds Nguyen splitting two defenders and he heads it home off the underside of Robles' crossbar for a 1-0 New England lead. Off the ensuing kickoff however, the Revs get in some trouble, and Goncalves hauls down Wright-Phillips in a dangerous area and is booked. If this happens today at Red Bull Arena in real life, I believe that would mean Goncalves would miss the second leg due to accumulation suspension. Henry's free kick then rattles off the outside of the post in the 20th and minutes later Goncalves has to slide in again on BWP, this time he wins the ball cleanly and alleviates the danger. In the 30th minutes an impressive solo run for Davies is eventually cut out after his third 360 at the top of the box.
Then, tremendous controversy from the center referee who I've now dubbed virtual Fotis Bazakos. Lee Nguyen is fouled outside the area near the left hand endline, but gets his cross off anyway. Caldwell heads it into the side netting through a sprawling Robles but it's called back! (And yes, I screamed obscenities at my TV at the fake referee who's programmed to be perfect.) The soccer gods give the Revs three chances (free kick and two corners) that come to nothing as the gods punish the Revs for playing the third corner short and the cross is awkward and physics-breaking. Right before halftime, Shuttleworth comes up with a huge double save, denying Luyindula one-on-one and then getting up and clearing the rebound that was still airborne.
The second half begins with the Revs kicking off, but its the Red Bulls who have the first chance. A miscommunication on a corner see Caldwell head away a corner on the near post despite Shuttleworth being in position to catch it. Oyongo comes up at the top of the box but scuffs his volley well wide of the far post and a seemingly open net despite a lot of traffic in the box. Caldwell breaks up a solo effort from Wright-Phillips in the 66th as the game dissolves into a possession battle in the midfield. Substitute Connor Lade fouls Jones twice in succession and gets a talking too from virtual Fotis Bazakos which seems fair. The Red Bulls begin to press during the final 15 minutes, which forces a lot of backpasses and a few turnovers from New England but there hasn't been a good change in the second half. But that changes with a foul on Farrell but Henry's free kick outside the top corner of the penalty area is cleared and the Revs start a breakaway that forces McCarty to take a tactical yellow. Minutes later, boos ring out from not Red Bull Arena as virtual Fotis Bazakos signals full time.
WHY THIS SIMULATION WILL BE RIGHT
Because this game could actually dissolve into a slugfest, with midfield fouls and set pieces dominating the game. In this case, each team had two clear cut scoring chances: Lee Nguyen's goal from Bunbury and what should've been Scott Caldwell's first professional goal for New England, and Henry's free kick and Luyindula's one-on-one chance. Each team also wasted a key chance, New England's series of set pieces following the disallowed goal and Oyongo's scuffer in the second half. In the end, Bobby Shuttleworth's double save proved to be the decider between two very evenly matched teams.
WHY THIS SIMULATION WILL BE WRONG
Because there's no way you can give Thierry Henry that many set piece chances and not expect to pick the ball out of the back of your net. The Revs, especially against Columbus in the semifinals, had to resort to a bit too much emergency defending on the counterattack. While they didn't give away a lot of set piece opportunities, their defensive shape provided amble scoring opportunities as they were often unorganized and that will give BWP more than just the one shot he had on target today. Also, Henry went 2/6 passing and 1/3 on dribbles for an overall rating of 5.7 in the simulation, and while the Revs might be able to harrass him and limit his effectiveness, with his form a repeat performance on the real field would be a staggeringly impressive feat.
And just putting it out there, Oyongo had a 4.0 rating, which I can only assume he was blamed for Nguyen's goal and had a brutal effort on goal. He only registered 1/1 passing and had zero tackles. The Revs usually attacked down the Red Bulls right flank and Richard Eckersley but it's really hard to get a sub-5.0 rating in this game only losing 1-0. Diego Fagundez came off the bench, lost the ball twice on dribbles, attempted zero passes and got a 5.1 rating.
Does this mean anything? No of course not. But is it still interesting that the only significant change to either lineup had the worst day on the field? Yes it is, even in a just for fun scenario like this.