Scouting report: Detailed look at attack minded New England, in return to MLS action for Union
In its last game before a break in MLS play, the New England Revolution lost 2-0 to Eastern Conference foe the New York Red Bulls in a match that by just looking at the score line one would think that the Red Bulls took it to a Revs team.
It was the exact opposite.
What secured the win for New York, besides two timely goals was the play of its goalkeeper Luis Robles, who stood on his head to make eight saves, many acrobatic stretches to keep the Red Bulls in it. In short, don’t take anything from that win because this Revolution attacks and it does so it waves.
However, it’s not without faults – and we’ll take a look at those, but first let’s look at some of New England’s major players.
New England offense
This offense is chock full of young attack minded forwards, but the catalyst (and leading goalscorer) is midfielder Lee Nguyen. Nguyen leads the Revs with five goals in MLS play as is the club’s playmaking engine. The Revs traditionally lineup in a 4-1-4-1 formation with Nguyen alongside either Daigo Kobayashi in the center of the pitch; and completing with Teal Bunbury on the right and homegrown stud Diego Fagundez streaking down the left side. Fagundez is primarily effective on the attack because he’s generally given free rein to pinch in from the left side and support the target forward, which as of late Revolution head coach Jay Heaps has relied on rookie Patrick Mullins. Mullins has slowed in his last pair of MLS matches, but can’t sleep on this kid. He’s big, strong and doesn’t need a lot of space to crack off a lethal shot on goal. Bunbury too, can surprise from the right side and take shots at the keeper. In fact both he and Fagundez share the team leads in causing goalkeepers fits with 16 shots on frame apiece.
Graphic: Possible New England lineup and formation ahead of Saturday's match against the Union (7:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet)
New England defense
This is where the weakness is for the Revolution. New England’s back line is big making set pieces tough, but they can be beaten on the ground and in spaces. Look for Heaps to keep the back four the same but holding midfielder Andy Dorman is on a yellow card, so it’s possible Dorman, should he gets off to an aggressive start, Heaps could replace with Scott Caldwell or drop Kobayashi and sit rookie Steve Neumann in alongside Nguyen. Farrell is a tough nut to crack as his imposing size and timely tackles are sharp. A.J. Soares and Jose Goncalves hold down the middle and Chris Tierney rounds out at left back. Heaps could elect to start either Stephen McCarthy or MLSSoccer.com Team of the Week defender Kevin Alston. Lastly, goalkeeper Bobby Shuttlesworth is a tough nut to crack, entering this match with a 1.29 goals against average in MLS play complete with four shutouts.
The Union has found its scoring knack and will need to convert its chances against the Revs. It’s a must. Getting ahead on the score sheet early as New England will attack – and often – from all angles; this match too will be a defensive battle for the Union as keeping tabs on the crafty Nguyen, the speedy Fagundez and the quick footed Bunbury will be tough. However, defensively the Union match well in that battle as Gaddis will have the task of keeping Fagundez quiet and a mix of either Fabinho and/or Maurice Edu shifting over to assist has the size to bang with Bunbury. Interim manager Jim Curtin has preached all week about “winning individual battles,” and this game will certain test that theory.
What are your thought on this Revs squad? Leave a comment below.
Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org