The New England Revolution's 4-0 victory over Real Salt Lake pushed their unbeaten streak to six games and that comes as no surprise. After a disheartening start to the season, the Revs appear to be clicking on all cylinders and are showing the form that brought them within inches of MLS Cup last season.
Given all of the strong performances that occurred on Saturday night, it is important to look deeper and understand what made the Revs so successful. To garner all of that, below are three thoughts that breakdown the team's performance.
1.) Outside Back's Width: In Jay Heaps' 4-2-3-1 formation the outside backs have arguably the tallest task ahead of them. On the defensive side of the ball they are assigned with preventing service into the box, tracking runners through the back-line, and a holding a tight line. Then on the offensive side of the things, they must cross dangerously into the box, serve as an outlet for when the ball is switched, and thread the ball up to striker's feet. In the latter category, Chris Tierney and London Woodberry put in master-class performances against RSL.
The former grabbed a goal, but more importantly stayed pinned to the left touchline and was a consistent threat all night. His presence pinned back Tony Beltran and forced John Stertzer to defend far more than the midfielder would have liked. With Woodberry, much of the same unfolded on the right touchline. Although not as advanced as Tierney, the Texas native galloped forward with comfort and similarly kept Demar Phillips honest.
Perhaps most significantly of all though, the space Tierney and Woodberry occupied allowed Teal Bunbury and Juan Aguedlo to drift inside and work their magic. This brings us to our second point.
2.) Dynamic Forwards: Given that the outside backs were providing the width, the wingers (Agudelo and Bunbury) had license to roam all over the attacking third and use their athleticism to wreck havoc. They interchanged at will, made penetrating passes when they presented themselves, and showed a daring willingness to take their defender on.
In what marked their greatest contribution, Aguedlo and Bunbury linked up impeccably well with Charlie Davies, who occupied the lone striker position. As the below video demonstrates, the trio were operating on another level all night and made RSL's depleted back-line look timid.
It all starts off with Bunbury driving at the heart of the defense. He then slips Davies through with a delicate pass and the 28-year-old forces Jeff Attinella into a strong save. Despite that, Agudelo is there to clean things up and confidently fire home for his second goal of the season. Brilliant movement, incisive decisions, and one more goal to the boys in red, white, and blue.
3.) Jones Shines: Jermaine Jones started and went ninety minutes at center-back for the second straight game on Saturday night. Much like the 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Union from last week, the Designated Player brought solidarity to the Revs' back-line.
He ultimately made 15 defensive interventions on the evening and partnered well with Andrew Farrell. With Jones leading the aforementioned partnership, Alvaro Saborio and Olmes Garcia were kept quiet.
Lastly, the scary part of Jones' performance is that in came in defense. He isn't even playing his natural midfield position yet, and if his showing on Saturday is any warning, the rest of MLS should be shaking in their boots.