An early red card, a pair of penalty kicks conceded, numerous mistakes along the back line—the Revolution have little to hang there hats on following a 3-0 drubbing in Philadelphia. We break down the match, position-by-position, and offer an overall team grade below.
Report: Conceding three goals generally lends itself to a tough goalkeeping day, but Bobby Shuttleworth looked sharp on Sunday. He was the victim of untimely deflections from Jose Goncalves on the first two goals and, despite cheating slightly on Leo Fernandes 93rd minute assist, showed sound footwork and strong positioning throughout the match. Of course, he also stopped a pair of penalty kicks, becoming just the fourth 'keeper in MLS history to do so. He will need better play from his back line if he wants to keep his net clean against NYCFC on Saturday.
Report: The Revolution back line has yet to find its form, having conceded three goals twice in its past three matches.
Je-Vaughn Watson, fresh off a pair of strong two-way performances, set the tone for the afternoon when his sloppy giveaway resulted in Fabinho's run down the left flank, which set up C.J. Sapong's first goal. Watson received a red card 18 minutes later for a contentious foul. The right back is now in jeopardy of losing his post to the younger Jordan McCrary.
Unfortunately, the rest of the Revolution back line followed suit. Andrew Farrell played a role in all three union goals: he whiffed on an aerial clearance that led to Sapong's first tally, lost Sapong from eight yards out on the forward's second goal and fell victim to a clever touch from Fernandes on Sebastien Le Toux's stoppage-time finish. He almost surrendered a fourth when he fouled Ilsinho in the box, though Shuttleworth came to his rescue with a penalty kick stop. Farrell seemed out-of-sync with Goncalves, even before Watson hit the showers, and picked poor defensive spots throughout the match.
Even dependable Chris Tierney struggled defensively, continually allowing Keegan Rosenberry, Ilsinho and Sapong to combine down the right flank. The left back ultimately held his own, but spent much of the match running at his own goal while tracking Philly's frontrunners.
Report: In the first frame, the midfield worked tirelessly to connect with Teal Bunbury over the top. But the tactic failed, as the unit continually sent long balls into the heart of the Union defense. The Revs turned to a short-passing, possession approach in the second half, which freed Lee Nguyen to quarterback the attack. Unfortunately, neither approach proved fruitful, as the Revolution midfield struggled to create more than a handful of chances, despite earning the lion's share of possession.
Nguyen appeared to be the likeliest candidate to break through, and he nearly did, forcing Union 'keeper Andre Blake into an outstretched save on a 22-yard strike and later clanking a free kick off both posts. Diego Fagundez and Kelyn Rowe proved less effective, disappearing for prolonged stretches while struggling to add value to the attack.
Defensively, Scott Caldwell served as the lone highlight, turning in another consistent outing (three tackles, three interceptions). He covered a tremendous amount of ground in the attacking third and helped maintain possession with several timely interventions. The expected return of Charlie Davies and his hold-up style should help this unit create more quality chances.
Report: Starting forward Teal Bunbury looked flat throughout the first half, struggling to outrun and outmuscle the Union defense on numerous through balls over the top. The former U.S. International has shown glimpses of promise in the number 9 role, but his slashing style still seems better suited for the wing, where he contributed four goals and five assists last season. Bunbury exited Sunday's match with nothing but an off-target shot to his name.
Juan Agudelo, on the other hand, entered in the 62nd minute and immediately gave the Revolution a much-needed attacking threat. A savvy interchange with Nguyen gave Agudelo space to take a close-range shot on frame, which forced Blake into a sprawling save in the 88th minute. For the second match in a row, Agudelo outplayed Teal Bunbury as Heaps' lone striker; the Colombian-born forward deserves a longer look up top.
Report: Without Davies (hamstring strain), Heaps employed Bunbury as his lone striker. The decision proved ineffective, as Bunbury failed to stretch the Union back four—or even take a shot on frame. Heaps scrambled to make an adjustment, even moving Rowe into an advanced center attacking role. But nothing worked. Battered and bruised from abysmal first half, Heaps' attack only found the space to create a few isolated opportunities.
Ahead of Saturday's match against NYCFC, Heaps has key decisions to make: how he replaces Je-Vaughn Watson, how he configures his stagnant midfield and where he uses Bunbury. His team is off to another woeful start; the right decisions could help stop the bleeding.
Final Word: Jay Heaps will walk away from Sunday's performance with questions at nearly every position group, from next weekend's fill-in right back to the future of the lone striker spot. Basically, it's just another March for the Revolution.