After garnering just one point from their first three games, the New England Revolution emerged as 2-0 victors against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday. Juan Agudelo and Lee Nguyen bested Clint Irwin on either side of halftime and poor finishing from the Rapids allowed the Revs to leave Dicks Sporting Goods Park with three points for the first time in club history.
The match also marked the Revs' first road win of the season, but the box score can be deceiving when it comes to telling the match's story. You can find three talking points after the jump that paint the picture across all 90 minutes and breakdown the Revs' performance as a whole.
1.) Colorado Crossing: The Rapids, who have yet to score all season, relied on a hefty amount of crosses to try and get the best of Shuttleworth and the Revs' back-line. They attempted 37 crosses in total, but as the below picture shows, few of them resulted in positive opportunities.
The graphic tells a lot more than Colorado pumping the ball into the box all game, though. It shows that New England was quite comfortable sitting deep and resting on their laurels after going 2-0 up. Heaps most likely felt okay sacrificing the space out wide in favor of protecting the middle, especially given that Colorado has developed something bordering a goal-phobia.
Add in the fact that this was a road contest and the Revs were playing in high altitude, and this strategy worked to pretty good effect.
2.) Long Balls: It has been well documented by members of the media that the Revs are not the most possession oriented team in Major League Soccer. Despite that, the team is also not averse to holding onto the ball and has the ability to knock it around the park when the game requires it.
However, the Revs made the long ball their best friend in Saturday's game. They opted to hoof it forward out of pressure or in search of Charlie Davies behind far more often than they typically do.
The above graphic shows how many unsuccessful long passes the Revs attempted against Colorado and there's a whole ton of red on there. The back-four sent the ball long when in doubt, didn't look for feet a whole ton, and cleared it down the field when necessary.
It somehow resulted in three points against Colorado, but Revs fans should not expect the same type of play to work in future weeks.
3.) Barnes Keeps On Rocking: The Revs' defense leaked in five goals during its first two games, but has allowed only one in its last three after Saturday's result. A large reason for that is the emergence of Darrius Barnes as a crucial piece along the team's back-line.
He stepped in during the 0-0 draw against the Montreal Impact and has played every minute since. The Duke product has put in steady performances in the three games he has started and did not miss a single beat against the Rapids.
The 28-year-old saw time at both center and right back on Saturday, won four of his six challenges, intercepted the ball once, made six clearances, and blocked four shots from the Rapids. He will get few shouts for man of the match, but he was once again a big reason for why the Revs earned a positive result.