All you need to know about the Revolution’s 1-1 draw with DC United in Group C of the MLS IS Back Tournament in quickie form, complete with Bay State Soccer Sentinel analysis and insight:
Revs blow second-half lead, share spoils with United (again): A sloppy final half an hour or thereabouts for New England, who must now wait until Tuesday morning’s Group C finale with Toronto FC to advance to the knockout stages of the competition. After Adam Buksa popped the Revs ahead in the 51st minute, New England took its foot off the proverbial accelerator, and a gaffe in the back by Antonio Delamea led to Federico Higuain scoring the equalizer in the 72nd minute. The Revs looked absolutely gassed in the 80 degree-plus humidity of Orlando, and that is now the third consecutive draw between the Original Ten sides.
Scoreless after 45: It wasn’t for a lack of effort, though, as The Boys In Blue held nearly 60 percent possession in the first half, with 10 shots and three on-target compared to three shots and none on-target by United. We noticed improved defending on the part of DC United, which couldn’t get out of its own way against Toronto FC on Monday: DC played tight on Buksa as well as Cristian Penilla, but big shots by Kelyn Rowe — his hammered the crossbar — and Gustavo Bou on a half turn you just can’t teach were near-scoring chances by New England.
No changes for the Revs in the XI: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Bruce Arena made zero changes to the starting XI from last Thursday’s 1-0 win over Montreal, with Matt Turner and Brandon Bye both making their 50th starts in Major League Soccer, while Braintree native Scott Caldwell moved into a tie for eighth all-time in Revolution league appearances (201) with Steve Ralston.
Adam Buksa: Much better. Muuuuuch better. He had the goal, and nearly had an assist at the hour mark after releasing Cristian Penilla. We’ll give partial credit to DC for blocking Penilla’s initial shot on Buksa’s goal, but the rest was the Pole: he was left completely unmarked out by the penalty spot, and United goalkeeper Bill Hamid overplayed to the left by about a foot. He went 90 Friday, but probably should have come out a few minutes earlier.
Brandon Bye: One of the things we liked out of New England in that second half was the play out of Bye, who is becoming a mainstay at right back. His soccer IQ was on display several times, especially the way he cleared out the trash on Julian Gressel’s cross in the 86th minute. More of this.
Antonio Delamea: A categorically poor touch by the Slovenian in the 72nd minute was the back breaker for the Revs. The touch wasn’t just poor; it was lazy, had no pace, leaves Matt Turner out to dry, and Higuain made him pay for that.
Revs in second half: Once Carles Gil left the game at about the hour mark, New England looked listless from then on. We can look at the 80-plus degree humidity as a factor, but it was the same weather for DC — in short, it’s not an excuse. There was no passion, no verve, for those wearing the Colonial kit. But part of that might be down to…
Player management: With five subs in this brutal humidity, maybe it should been up to the coaching staff to make subs earlier when certain players — Rowe, Buksa, Penilla — looked absolutely gassed. You make the Tajon Buchanan-for-Buksa and Justin Rennicks-for-Penilla subs 10 minutes earlier, or even 15 minutes earlier, shortly after Higuain’s goal and alongside Teal Bunbury coming on for Caldwell, to add a bit of a spark and give them time to influence the final result. Instead, those last two moves are made just before the fourth official puts up the board showing five minutes minimum added on, and what does that even do?
LET’S TALK ABOUT STATS, BABY
New England had 51 percent of the ball for the entirety of the match after having nearly 60 percent (59.8) through the first 45 minutes.
18 shots, 5 on target for the Revs; that’s down one and up one from eight days prior.
The Revs won 63 duels compared to 41 for DC United.
No yellow cards issued to the Revs Friday night.
WHAT SWEENS REALLY THINKS RIGHT NOW
Now is the time to really see what the depth in this squad is like. With a short turnaround, and several players looking thoroughly exhausted, the question is now down to how many changes in the XI will we see Tuesday morning? I’m setting the over/under at five.
Get the coffee going early and often, folks! It’s a bright and early start on Tuesday morning, as the Revolution will finish Group C play at 9 a.m. with a match against high-flying Toronto FC. We’ll see you then.