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Match report: Revolution 0-3 Union

Photo: Nicolae Stoian

Coming off a midweek friendly and missing their most only influential player, the New England Revolution were in the strange position of playing for a tie at home.

Even stranger, the Union were in no mood to give it to them. Carlos Ruiz got his sixth while Carlos Valdes and Sheanon Williams each got the first of their careers as the Union dismissed the last place Revolution 3-0.

The first forty-five minutes featured a vintage display of flowing, confident soccer. With Kyle Nakazawa making a second straight start on top of the midfield diamond, the Union played a simple, speedy passing game that ripped through the five-man Revolution midfield. Justin Mapp and Keon Daniel made inside runs behind the strikers and opened up wide lanes for the impressive Gabe Farfan and Sheanon “The Sane-Person’s-All-Star” Williams.

While Justin Mapp was taking players on, Keon Daniel was looking for combination moves with Garfan and Seba Le Toux. Pat Phelan and Stephen McCarthy were helpless against the Union’s ball movement, and the visitors produced their first tally off a side-to-side move that will not be among the New England favorites during video study.

Ruiz on target

Carlos Ruiz managed to spray the ball wide to Justin Mapp, and the left-footed middie went right (!) and floated a low cross to Neon Keon at the back post. Daniel awkwardly dinked the ball into the middle of the box with his head and Carlos Ruiz executed a fine flying volley from inside the six to put the Union on top.

Far from stimulating the Revolution into action, the goal seemed to confirm what they already knew: For the second time in a week, a better team was giving them the business in Foxboro.

Naka’s set piece service impresses

The mountain for the home team to climb got a lot steeper in the 24th minute. Kyle Nakazawa – on set piece duty, thankfully – drilled a tight-spinning ball to the back post that Sebastien Le Toux bundled back across the box. The hard-charging Carlos Valdes has come close on a few dead balls this year and he found this chance impossible to miss, blasting into the top of the net from in close.

The Union did not take their foot off the gas. Showing a refreshing willingness to abandon the center channel, Carlos Ruiz dragged AJ Soares and Franco Coria around and opened spaces for Sebastien Le Toux to play with his back to goal. Although the strikers rarely connected with the ball, it was their most coordinated effort to date.

Second half

The second half saw personnel and a new formation for the desperate Revs. Darrius Barnes came into the midfield and Zack Schilawski took off Kenny Mansally. The 3-5-2 was designed to keep Daniel and Mapp wide and close the spaces that Williams and Garfan had so successfully exploited in the first forty-five. Unfortunately for Union fans, this worked.

Unfortunately for Revs fans, they disrupted Philly’s rhythm but had no mojo of their own with which to replace it.

Feilhaber fails hard

As has been the case before this season (see: Hassli, Eric & Wondolowski, Chris), the Union completely took the opposition’s most dangerous player out of the game. Benny Feilhaber looked put out to be relegated to the left side of midfield. And with Sheanon Williams doing his best impression of an All-Star right back (since, y’know, he isn’t one…), Feilhaber had as much influence on the match as the PhillySoccerPage has on Peter Nowak’s decisions.

Note to all players on a yellow card: Do not tackle Carlos Ruiz. The Union’s striker brought a whiff of Copa America to New England as he rolled along the ground, holding an ankle that had clearly escaped contact. While Feilhaber was guilty of a foul, the second yellow card he received was given for Ruiz’s acting and Benny’s sophomoric reaction to it. Red-faced  and goofy-haired, Feilhaber earned an early shower in the 66th minute.

The subs

With birthday boy Danny Mwanga on the pitch for Mapp in the 63rd, the Union were able to resume a more consistent possession game. Michael Farfan soon replaced Carlos Ruiz and when Miglioranzi came on for Keon Daniel in the 79th, the Union presented a 4-2-2-2 with Marfan and Nakazawa sucking inside on offense to let Garfan and Williams stretch their legs again. It was a system built to force the Revs to be narrow while allowing the Union to get wide fast.

Sheanon gets his

And who comes to mind when you hear the words “wide” and “fast”?

The Sheanomenon. Darting up the pitch behind a patient Danny Mwanga in extra time, Sheanon Williams received a pass that sent him clear through on goal. Patiently cutting inside, Snub placed a controlled toe-ball finish into the far corner to finish off the rout.

Not Toronto, but probably better

This was not the wide open offense of the Toronto massacre, but a controlled burn that only entered high gear on occasion. But when they did hit that top gear, the Union served notice to the rest of MLS: The first half of 2011 was no fluke. We are the team to beat in the East.


  1. The U is legit and halfway through the season they have 31 points, That’s as many as they had all of 2010. However, being the best in a terrible eastern conference is one thing, let’s see some wins against west coast teams.

  2. I was so impressed with the U yesterday. They played great! I’m even willing to go so far as to say that I’m liking the way Ruiz has been playing the past few games. (Believe me, that was hard for me to do.)

    I’m not trying to be glass half empty, but I do have a few thoughts: 1. I’m still not sure why LeToux is taking corners. Nakazawa is much better at them. 2. Mapp needs a rest. His leg has been bothering him for at least two months now, and the more he plays the worse it’s going to get. If we’re planning on getting deep into the playoffs he’s going to need to be 100%, and right now he’s not. I’m sure Marfan or even JackMac could work in that mid position to give Justin time to heal up.

  3. The first half was good, but NE was really bad. The second half was okay, and NE was just bad. In short, I’m not sure how much improvement we are actually seeing from the Union. In the second half, when NE went a man down, the Union didn’t capitalize. They should have, but their game did not improve.

    Also, the game was so boring, that even our estimed announcers were chit chating as if at a bar and not a TV broadcast. As enjoyable as that was, it seemed a bit unprofessional.

    Overall, I hope we saw an improvement in the Union’s game, rather than a lack of effort from the Revs.

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