Lee Nguyen understandably has been grabbing all of the headlines in the wake of the New England Revolution's dominant performance against Orlando City, but Chris Tierney was just as crucial to the Revs' harmonious attack.
From a statistical perspective, Tierney was lights out, as he completed nearly 97 percent of his passes, but it was in and around Tally Hall's goal where the left-back shone the brightest.
The first sterling moment arose in the 43rd minute on Diego Fagundez's volleyed finish. The whole play began when the Wellesley, Mass. native pinged a perfect long ball into the path of Charlie Davies, thus opening up Orlando's otherwise compact defensive shape.
"We talk about Chris and what he can do and the ball over the top was perfect on the first goal," said Jay Heaps. "We were almost hoping he would get a little bit of space and be able to hit that ball because we hadn’t been able to test their back-line because they were dropping so quickly and sitting so deep. Our speed couldn’t get behind them, so that was really the first time we were able to get over the top."
Outside of being instrumental on Fagundez's opening strike, Tierney also rose to the occasion in the 56th minute when he was brilliantly denied by Hall. In what appeared to be a sure-fire insurance tally, Tierney struck the ball low and hard towards the back post, only for his attempt to be deflected and denied by Hall's dangling legs.
Perhaps most encouragingly, though, was the simple fact that Tierney found himself in attacking positions all throughout the evening. As Orlando sat deeper and deeper and conceded space in wide areas, Tierney trotted forward with ease and confidence.
"Especially at home teams tend to bunker in against us and we have a lot of quality up top," Tierney said. "Defensive tactics here are to kind of stack the middle of the field and try to nullify our skill guys and our quality attacking players. That leaves space for fullbacks to get forward [and] wide players to have a little bit more time on the ball, so you have to be good with the ball and try to take advantage of the space they’re giving you."
In what was truly a sterling performance, Tierney's night was capped off in the third minute of second half stoppage time when he finally got the best of Hall. After offering support for Fagundez, Tierney instinctively made his way into the box.
Lee Nguyen found himself in a threatening position around the penalty spot and combined with Tierney via a nifty back-heel on an overlapping run. Not to be outdone, Tierney slid a composed finish under Hall and extended the Revs' lead to 3-0.
"It was the cap on a good team performance, so I think 3-0 was a fair scoreline," Tierney said. "We dominated the game start to finish, so it was a good feeling for all of us."