In what can only be viewed as a positive result for the visitors, the New England Revolution grabbed a come-from-behind road victory against the Philadelphia Union on Sunday. It was a makeshift backline for the Revs as Jermaine Jones featured at center back while London Woodberry got the nod at right back. With so many lineup changes in place, what can we take away from this match?
1. London Woodberry had himself a game. Though not consistently in the game-day 18, Woodberry was handed a starting opportunity on Sunday and he certainly made the most of it. The former FC Dallas Homegrown product finished with four tackles, three interceptions, and one block against Philadelphia. Offensively he was also solid as he completed 94.3% of his passes while consistently whipping in crosses. Woodberry hardly put a wrong foot the entire night, which should make him a regular inclusion on the game-day roster, if not the starting XI.
2. The Revs got their substitutions right. When it comes to attackers, the Revolution have a wealth of options. On any given day, there might be 3-5 players on the Revs’ bench that could be starters elsewhere. Having big-name substitutes only matters, however, if they’re being used properly, which is what coach Jay Heaps did on Sunday. Heaps had no qualms about going to his bench early as he made substitutions in the 60th (Chris Tierney for Kevin Alston) and 61st (Teal Bunbury for Kelyn Rowe) before using his final one in the 71st (Diego Fagundez for Juan Agudelo). The prompt alterations gave the subs time to adjust to the game, which in turn helped them make an impact. Bunbury collected a goal and an assist while Fagundez had a helper.
3. Width is important to the Revs. Last week the Revs only attempted 17 crosses, a number that was impacted by the weather and the absence of Tierney, the team’s resident left-footed specialist. With less happening on the flanks, that Revs were forced to play through a crowded midfield often against Columbus Crew SC. The tactic proved ineffective as the Revs ended the night with only three shots on target. One week later, width truly mattered as Alston and Woodberry were active on the peripheries. Later, Bunbury and Fagundez would send in dangerous balls that led to goals. The Revs love to break down opposing defenses with quick, sharp passes. That said, being able to use the flanks effectively creates a more varied and unpredictable attack.