New England head coach Jay Heaps has undoubtedly created a dominate force; one to be reckoned with. For three years now Heaps has instilled a new winning attitude in the once stale Revs. Through a possession-oriented playing style that focuses on the utilization of young players, Real Salt Lake could take some pointers from last year's MLS Cup runner-ups.
After the departure of several veterans over the offseason, RSL has decided to go younger and use a new formation. This new exciting era has shown to be promising but has struggled on the pitch with past success still weighing heavily on both the club's and its fans' shoulders. Still, head coach Jeff Cassar is poised for even greater improvement in 2015.
As Real Salt Lake take on the Revolution this Saturday, the Claret-and-Cobalt could learn a lot from their opponents - and let's just say the Revs already have some habits that RSL could use to jumpstart their offense.
When possession matters and when it doesn't
The Revolution are very honest about their game. Whether they are winning or losing they have a style that they play. As of late, the Revs are always willing to invite pressure and defend. Let the other club possess the ball all day as long as the defense remains firm and hit the opposition on the counter attack.
I might be overstating things just a bit, but New England could care less about possession. Despite constantly referring to his club's style as possession-oriented, Heaps will allow for variations if his side get the win. It may not always be the most beautiful soccer you have ever seen but it sure can be effective.
While it is true that the Revs will knock around the ball for a bit if they find themselves in the position to kill off a match, they are also kings when it comes to turning between-the-boxes chances into goals:
As you can see the Revs are great at making chances from seemingly nothing. Anyway, the Earthquakes give up the ball to Chris Tierney who plays the ball long to the onrushing Charlie Davies who beats his marker. In on the keeper he takes the shot but it is deflected but finds itself at the feet of Juan Agudelo who gets yet another chance to score. While the Revs did not convert on this play, they did manage to create two fantastic scoring chances in under ten seconds.
Playing in similar formations, RSL could use some New England-esque ball movement to nullify their opponents' defense. It's like this, if RSL forwards push into the opposing defense, the Claret-and-Cobalt's midfielders can sit deep and win possession. Once RSL has the ball, the midfielders can play long, over-head balls to the speedsters up top and then race forward in numbers.
You see in the previous clip that it is the play of the winger that super-charges this particular tactic. When the wingers rush up-field and then cut into the box they can catch defenders out of position. With this recognition of ball movement, any turn-over can be an offensive break-out opportunity.
Ramming the play directly through midfield may not be the most attractive way to win a match, those ping passes in and around the box it creates can get you goals and that is just what the doctor orders for the ailing RSL offense.
When it comes to the high press, no one is better than New England in the league. The Revs have used it to great effect against their opponents. They will come out in the first 15 to 20 minutes and be all over the other squad, doing everything in their power to force turnovers. It can be especially rewarding employing midfielders to high press:
With the Revs already being killers from absolutely nothing, Kyle Beckerman can and should physically dominate Jermaine Jones. If he can push Jones and the rest of the New England midfield deeper, that should open up some space in order to develop RSL's passing game and create some serious havoc in the Revs' defensive half.
Just one more thing:
RSL needs to be careful when it comes to conceding fouls near their 18 yard box because restarts from Chris Tierney and/or Kelyn Rowe can be vicious - plus they have been known to combine for some goals as well.
As always, we would like to know what you think. What do you think RSL could learn from the Revs? How can the Claret-and-Cobalt employ some of New England's tactics? Could RSL find success in modeling some plays like the Revs? How will Real line up against the Revolution on Saturday? Share your opinions in the comments section below.