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Revolution v. DC United: Two thoughts

Rick Sewall talks about the Revolution’s last game.

MLS: New England Revolution at D.C. United Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Revolution suffered a disappointing loss to D.C. United one week ago. Rick Sewall gives his two thoughts on the game.

First, the Rev possession game was sub-par for the whole game, particularly in the first half. The trio of Caldwell, Caicedo, and Fagundez all have value as soccer players, but were not competitive with the United’s Moreno, Canouse, and Acosta when considering the issue of ball possession (a tactic that has been a Rev weakness all season). Friedel’s decision to put them on the field with the goal of possessing the ball for a reasonable percentage of time was questionable. He should have accepted the fact that this group was not up to the job.

At this late date in the season, a trade for a possession-oriented player is most likely the only solution.

Second, it was fairly obvious that the Revs entered the game with the mindset of playing physically as much as possible, as they made several unnecessarily aggressive tackles from the outset. Agudelo and Caldwell were the main culprits. Agudelo’s first-half yellow card was likely the main reason why he didn’t play in the second half, and Caldwell’s two second-half yellows removed him from the game in the 73rd minute, with the Revs down by only a goal.

If I were coaching, I would always remind players before the game (especially an important one) that playing your best includes keeping your emotions in check. If you don’t, careless play and ensuing yellow and red cards often result.

The Revs badly lacked Agudelo’s sophisticated offensive skill after his withdrawal. Without Caldwell as a defensive bulwark, and playing a man down for the last 21 minutes, the Revs’ chances of tying the game were greatly diminished. What I wonder about is this: these two players (Agudelo and Caldwell) are not the hothead-type of players that I would normally think are temperamental threats for cautions or ejections. My instinct is that this was a coaching strategy gone awry – that these two players got caught up in a pre-determined team tactic of hyper-aggressive play, that in the end backfired on the coaching staff. But then again, who knows?