TORONTO – Much was made of the LA Galaxy’s mesmerizing 26-pass sequence which led to a Baggio Husidic goal in the midweek win over D.C. United. It was 70 seconds of soccer at its purest form. Gorgeous.
But there’s also something to be said for efficiency, which was the route the New England Revolution took in Saturday evening’s comfortable 3-0 win over Toronto FC.
Implementing a high-pressure approach to perfection, all three of the Revolution’s goals were the result of quick-strike counterattacks after forcing turnovers in dangerous spots.
Lee Nguyen picked off an errant pass in the attacking third and strode forward confidently to fire past TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendik in just the second minute. Kelyn Rowe forced a turnover and played a one-two with Nguyen before lashing home in the 21st minute. A pass which caromed off referee Silviu Petrescu sprang another counter in the 58th minute, Rowe slotting through for Charlie Davies, who set up Teal Bunbury for a tap-in.
So how many total passes did the Revs require to tally three goals at BMO Field?
“Obviously every team wants to have a 26-pass sequence like LA; that’s what you strive for,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “But at the same time, the game is played defensively. You’ve got to roll up your sleeves and put the work in. More times than not, when you do that, it’s going to be a good game.”
Nguyen offered high praise for Davies, who worked tirelessly at the top of the Revolution’s system to keep Toronto’s defenders uncomfortable playing out of the back. Heaps noted that the game plan called for a high-pressure approach, including a tactical shift through central midfield.
“Each team is a little different in how you play them, so we pivoted our triangle a little bit just to get pressure to certain players,” Heaps said. “Fortunately, we were able to take advantage of it.”
The win continued New England’s recent revival – 3-1-1 in the last five – and pushed the Revs back into playoff position in the crowded Eastern Conference as August draws to a close.
Circumstances could be shaping up favorably for the Revs, who’ll begin September with three straight games at Gillette Stadium. But home meetings with Chicago (Sept. 7) and Montreal (Sept. 13) haven’t even entered the Revolution’s consciousness just yet.
Right now, it’s all about Wednesday night’s showdown with defending MLS Cup champion Sporting Kansas City.
“We just have to continue to put one game at a time,” said Heaps. “You can’t look too far ahead in this league. We’ll take the three points tonight and then we have a huge game on Wednesday.”