For 74 minutes of Saturday's match at CenturyLink Field, the Revolution looked destined to grab its first road win of the season. And then the Sounders scored three unanswered goals. The match ended in a 3-3 deadlock.
Who stood out—and who didn’t—during the Revs’ third straight draw?
The Revolution have been waiting all season for a goalscorer to step up and command the attack. On Saturday, with Kei Kamara back in New England, Juan Agudelo did just that. He made a nuisance of himself in the attacking third, offering stellar hold-up play while creating four goal-scoring chances. And, of course, he alleviated the Revs’ finishing woes by scoring a pair of goals.
For the second consecutive week, Agudelo also put forth a strong defensive shift, picking up four tackles, four aerial wins and a pair of interceptions. Though the Revolution ultimately missed out on a road win, Agudelo served as the obvious Man of the Match.
Diego has looked as lively as ever during the early stages of 2017, and he built on his strong campaign on Saturday. The Uruguayan midfielder buzzed about throughout his shift, looking dangerous with the ball at his feet each time he pushed forward. His assist on Agudelo’s second goal served as his highlight moment, showcasing his patience on the counter as he threaded a simple square ball that Agudelo easily finished.
Jay Heaps’ decision to pull Fagundez in the 65th minute served as something of head-scratcher, and the Revolution midfield never looked the same after his departure. He should continue to earn starts for the foreseeable future.
Inserted at left back to keep up with Nicolas Lodeiro and the Sounders attack, Rowe turned in perhaps his best defensive performance to date. He used his speed to keep pace down the left channel, made a handful of key interventions and played clean, intelligent defense. He even picked up an assist, sending a flawless left-footed cross onto Agudelo’s head.
By coincidence or not, the Revolution defense came apart when Je-Vaughn Watson took over at left back, which pushed Rowe into Fagundez’s midfield role. Even Rowe seemed out of place in his new position, as he got caught ball watching on Osvaldo Alonso’s equalizer. It was an unfortunate error, though it doesn’t overshadow his contributions through the first 87 minutes of action.
Right out of the gate, Heaps’ game plan baffled the Sounders. Comfortable with the home side dominating possession, he threw numbers forward on the counter. And, thanks to some clinical finishing, it worked: the Revs scored three road goals against a team that had yet to lose at home.
But when Heaps began tinkering with his lineup in the 65th minute, everything began to fall apart. The defense couldn’t clear it’s lines. Communication broke down. And possession was carelessly given away, time and time again.
Some of that falls on Heaps. He needed to make a change or two (Agudelo said the team was exhausted late in the second half), though his substitutes looked out-of-place the whole way. Why tweak a back line that looked in-sync, especially if Rowe had enough stamina to finish the match? Why pull the liveliest attacker in the 65th minute? Why take a defensive, possession-minded player like Kobayashi off in the waning moments?
Heaps had his reasons, and fatigue was certainly one of them. Unfortunately, his reasons backfired, as his club conceded three goals in 15 minutes to settle for a heart-breaking draw.
For three-quarters of Saturday’s match, the Revolution defense held its own. Rowe put forth an exceptional shift at left back. Benjamin Angoua looked like the player Revs fans had been waiting for (he picked up a ridiculous 13 clearances). And Andrew Farrell’s athleticism proved invaluable against the Sounders attack.
But in the end, the back line wore down against a Seattle team that claimed 75 percent of the game’s possession. Shortly after Watson entered the match, the remaining three starters began playing a haphazard soccer. Sloppy passes, poor clearances and an inability to maintain possession helped the Sounders get back in the match. And careless marking helped them tie it.
After conceding five goals in the past two matches, the back line desperately needs a bounce-back performance this weekend against Crew SC.
Heaps, with his team worn out from chasing the Sounders for most of Saturday’s match, needed fresh legs and sound decision making from his reserves. Unfortunately, his players of choice—Watson, Teal Bunbury and Femi Hollinger-Janzen—provided the former but not the latter.
Watson had a handful of nervy moments defensively. Bunbury struggled to keep possession with a few heavy touches. And Femi twice went for goal when he could have kept possession (or set up a better goal-scoring chance) with an extra pass.
On a day when the Revs desperately needed a strong finish, Heaps’ three subs failed to put forth their best effort.
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