NYCFC Under Pressure
The New England Revolution applied great pressure when in the final third from the beginning of the game. Captain Gustavo Bou and Lee Nguyen connected a few times through the middle of the field. Bou tried to push the line too much, too often. NYCFC caught wind pretty quick and pulled the line to keep Gustavo offside. The pressure in the first half was awesome to watch. The relentless attack kept New York City on their toes and always needing to be ready for another great pass from Lee Nguyen.
Tajon Buchanan when getting the ball from Nguyen and Bye, took care of the ball. Buchanan's physical play was phenomenal. When confronted with big tackles, the winger managed to stay full speed ahead. He got up in the air to beat out defenders for headers in on goal. The dribbles that Tajon had during the game were stronger than previous games. He kept possession in the final third for the Revs. NYCFC did not expect his well-earned attempts on goal. This caused problems for their backline.
Teal Bunbury and Tommy McNamara piled on the pressure as well. Bunbury was taking shots from outside the 18-yard box. The awaiting Sean Johnson in net for the Pigeons, did well to keep them out. These attacks by Teal helped to free up Buchanan, Lee, and Bou. McNamara was a presence in the middle of the field, keeping the NYCFC players from dribbling through the center. This pushed the New York City attacks outside and around the middle, to the strong wingbacks for the Revolution. Very few attacks beat Alexander Buttner and Brandon Bye.
Speedy Subs Weren't The Answer
In the 66th minute, Kelyn Rowe and Kekutah Manneh came as fresh legs and a little speed. They replaced Teal Bunbury and Tommy McNamara, who they ran their engines full speed ahead for the near 70 minutes they played. Kelyn and Kekutah entered the match and combined for a total of 31 touches. This isn't enough for a duo who played for 30 minutes at the end of a game.
The Revolution attack rarely used Kekutah Manneh during his time on the field. The few times that the ball arrived at his feet, he expertly dished the ball back out to someone else. He had one clear cut chance on goal and managed to whiff a volley out for a throw-in. For Manneh's first chance to play in a few games, it was not a positive one. Kekutah only managed to touch the ball eleven times while on the field.
Kelyn Rowe, however, came into the game to fill in some big shoes. Tommy McNamara was running and making big tackles all game. The time that Kelyn spent on the field, he spent making passes, instead of shutting down the middle. Bruce brought him on as another player who can pass well to play with Lee Nguyen and he did just that. He didn't however keep the pressure on NYCFC to cough up the ball in the middle and final third.
Defense A Strong Point This Game
Both sides' defense made mistakes but didn't allow them to find the back of the net. To this, Bruce attributes the amazing saves of both Matt Turner and Sean Johnson. "Those are two good goalkeepers that played tonight," he said when asked about their performances. Matt Turner added another clean sheet to his great accolades this season. He currently has four shut-outs.
The Revolution backline of Brandon Bye, Alexander Buttner, Henry Kessler, and Andrew Farrell kept New York City to striking on goal only four times. Kessler has shown every game he's played thus far that he deserves to be a part of the starters' club. He ended up staying in the whole game. Henry had the highest completed pass percentage out of all players who went 90 minutes.
The New York back four were a little less proficient at disallowing goal scoring chances. The Revs ended up getting seven shots off toward Sean Johnson. 17-year old Joseph Scally, an NYCFC academy graduate, started at right-back for the Pigeons and played very well, keeping possession with accurate passes. New York City agreed to sell Scally to German side Borussia Mönchengladbach at the end of the year.
Revs' Strikes of Brilliance:
The past few games have involved a shot on goal percentage of less than 30%. The Revolution stepped up their game and got more chances on goal. New England ended up this game with 14 shots, with seven shots saved by Sean Johnson. If Sean wasn't on his A-game against the Revs, that strike from Teal at the beginning of the game could have been a goal.
The Nguyen to Bou connection during the game showed us dangerous attacking prowess. More possession breeds more chances to create pressure to find the cracks in the defense. It absolutely helps that Buchanan and Bye were on their game. Tajon and Brandon kept the ball in Revolution control. They tested the areas that weren't ready for them to come out and be as strong as they were. Those areas definitely cracked under pressure.
Buksa came on for minimal minutes at the end of the game and looked more comfortable than he had in any previous game. He was able to get off a shot during his time on. Arena said in the post-game that "We felt that Gustavo [Bou] was the best choice to place up there, with the team we had.” Lee and Bou were creative whiles on the field. It's important to note that no one was on the crosses that Bye, Buchanan, and Buttner were tossing in from all angles. If Adam Buksa was subbed in earlier, he definitely would have been a danger on those crosses.