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New England Revolution 1 - Columbus Crew 2: 3 Thoughts
Cucho and Co. came to town
The New England Revolution had a quick turnaround after an important win over Charlotte FC over the weekend as the Columbus Crew came to town on Wednesday.
The match was a crucial one as New England was looking to maintain its grips on home-field advantage in the playoffs. A loss saw the Revs end the night 5th in the Eastern Conference.
Giacomo Vrioni returned to the starting XI with Bobby Wood returning to the bench. The midfield was comprised of Tomas Chancalay, Carles Gil, and Ema Boateng making up the midfield with Mark-Anthony Kaye and Noel Buck playing in defensive midfield roles.
With Andrew Farrell healthy, the veteran started alongside Dave Romney with DeJuan Jones and Matt Polster once again serving as outside backs. Earl Edwards Jr. received another start in net.
But what do you need to know about the match? Here are three thoughts.
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1 - Peay ball has its pitfalls
While there are benefits to the style of play that Revolution interim head coach Clint Peay likes to play, there are also some massive pitfalls that should have him questioning if it is the right system for New England.
With Polster and Jones playing as inverted wing backs, they have the freedom to get forward with the Polster constantly tucking into the midfield when in possession. This is great when looking to attack and create goal-scoring chances but quite poor when trying to defend.
With the majority of your players forward on the attack, a change of possession can quickly turn into a goal-scoring opportunity for the opponent. That’s exactly what happened on Wednesday evening.
In the 20th minute after New England gave up possession in the final third, the Crew stormed up the field and a Diego Rossi blast gave Columbus a 1-0 lead.
Even looking at the defense at a whole, New England struggled as they failed to see out the game and dropped points as Columbus scored off a corner in the 86th minute. It’s not a product of the wing-back system but another illustration of the Revs’ overall defensive liabilities.
If this system continues to see the Revolution dropping points, Peay will have to think long and hard if the defensive liability in his desired play style is worth the risk. While the season is nearing its conclusion, it might be time for Peay to head back to the drawing board.
2 - Tomas transfer
Wednesday was another beautiful performance for Tomas Chancalay. He played a major part in the Revs earning a point from the match.
In just eight matches played, Chancalay has four goals and an assist. A complete effort from him in the 48th minute saw New England draw level with the Crew.
After laying it off to Gil, Chancalay made a run to the middle of the box and a cross from DeJuan Jones found him. With a beautiful finish, the 24-year-old found the back of the net.
A crucial aspect of Chancalay’s performance is that he was on the opposite side of the field as Boateng took his usual spot on the left, This flexibility will be perfect in 2024 when Dylan Borrero is healthy and back on the field.
With his performance so far, New England needs to trigger that purchase option. The winger looks like he could become a star in MLS and worthy of a designated player tag if need be.
I say midfield but really this is about Mark-Anthony Kaye. The midfielder had a poor showing against the Crew and has displayed some worrying trends.
In this role, Kaye is asked to do a lot. He needs to be a stout defender while also helping to jumpstart the attack. He has done neither.
At times, Kaye has sat back and played a part in allowing goals. In possession, he has struggled to maintain the ball and has constantly turned it over with poor passes.
His struggles were highlighted when he was taken off and replaced with Ben Sweat. Initially, it seemed like Sweat might replace Polster — who was on a yellow card — but he replaced Kaye.
Once again, if Peay wants to continue on with this system, he needs to ponder if Kaye is the man for the job. While outside back depth is hard to come by, it might be time to move Polster back to the midfield or even have Ian Harkes get a start in that role.
It’s another quick turnaround for the Revs as they face Orlando City on Saturday.