The New England Revolution played a friendly against SL Benfica on Wednesday night in a light mist at Gillette Stadium. Their offense played like the mist and they lost 4-0.
Soccer is a relatively simple game. 11 players to a side, one ball to be controlled and put into a net on either end for a score. The one side with the most goals wins. Can't score unless you have the ball so ball possession means a great deal. Ball control means you can maintain possession.
Most of the relatively simple aspects of the game revolve around the movement of the ball. A player can dribble or move the ball with him. If they do so, they are likely to attract the attention of the opposing team. If they pass the ball, good short passes can move the ball up field faster than a single person dribbling. Good short passes into the space between defenders is where the offence can take advantage.
The Revs showed little ball control. They were rarely able to string several passes together. In fact, even when their goal keeper had a re-start on a goal kick or from an off-sides play, the goal keeper ended up turning the ball over to the other team. So the Revs ended up playing defense most of the game.
Three trialists played for the Revs last night. This provided a different line up and created unique opportunities. It does take time for players to get to know one another. At best, using the trialists saved some energy for the remaining members of the team. They will need to with another game coming up on Saturday in Toronto.
What do the NE Revs need to do?
From my vantage point -
1 - control the ball. The keeper should stop going deep with a long ball in the air and bring the ball up out of the back on the ground via one of the defenders.
2 - get into the simple triangle game of passing into the open space between defenders. This means the offense must keep moving but that is how to be successful. Simple passes, ball control, keep possession, eventually the defense will make a mistake, creating extra space for the offense to take advantage.
3 - the Rev's ball control will have an added effect of keeping the other team on the defense giving them less time with the ball. Once they do get it, the Revs need to be compact. The defense will be more successful if they don't have to play defense for 90 minutes. Let the offense control ball for some time and give the defense a break.
4 - the injured players need to get and stay healthy. The list of injured payers is too long and contains too many of the top players for the Revolution to really be playing a quality game. It is providing a good deal of real time experience for the younger players and that will provide benefits in the long road.