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New England Revolution 2 - Chicago Fire 2: 3 Thoughts
Clint Peay is still without a win as interim head coach
The New England Revolution returned to the pitch once again on Saturday evening and were desperate for a win. After suffering defeat against the lowly Colorado Rapids in the battle of the interim head coaches, a loss would send Revolution fans into full panic mode.
While New England clinched a playoff spot, a draw to the Fire will have fans concerned about what the team will do once they get there.
Interim head coach Clint Peay switched things up as he deployed a 4-1-4-1 formation The midfield was comprised of Tomas Chancalay, Noel Buck, Carles Gil, and Nacho Gil while Mark-Anthony Kaye served as a defensive midfielder.
In the back, Matt Polster, Dave Romney, Omar Gonzalez, and DeJuan Jones made up the back line with Earl Edwards Jr. in net. Once again Giacomo Vrioni was the lone striker.
But what do you need to know about the match? Here are three thoughts.
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1 - Chanca has the green light
The Revolution have been missing the presence of a player who is willing to shoot from anywhere on the field and stun a goalkeeper. That used to be Gustavo Bou and now it looks like Chancalay will be that player for the Revs.
Chancalay scored his third goal of the season (five games played). He was constantly peppering the goalkeeper and blasted a shot into the back of the net in the 17th minute.
The 24-year-old has been a great addition since joining the Revs in the second half of the MLS season. Beyond his goal-scoring ability, Chancalay is impressive on the ball and can blow by defenders.
Looking ahead to next season, the winger looks like a player who can New England can build their attack on. Imagining him alongside Dylan Borrero should scare opponents across MLS.
2 - Vrioni needs a striker partner
How many times do we need to see Giacomo Vrioni be non-existent before a change has made? Once again the 24-year-old was deployed as a lone striker and once again he struggled.
Vrioni failed to convert on the chances he ended up getting and was basically a ghost on the night. That is something that can’t be happening when you are a Designated Player.
To be fair to Vrioni, part of that isn’t exactly his fault. At times the Revolution have struggled to provide service to the striker.
Vrioni’s night finished with 24 touches, two shots (both blocked) and completed 12 of his 13 passes. One of those passes was simply dropping the ball to Carles Gil who scored a game-tying goal.
Clint Peay seriously needs to consider pairing Vrioni with Bobby Wood or dare I say moving him to the bench. If Peay is married to the idea of having a single striker, Wood is much better at doing the job.
Even after being reduced to a bench role, Wood has the most goals of any striker for New England this season. He is far superior when it comes to hold-up play and has shown he is capable of playing by himself.
On a night where Peay made some tactical changes, his stubbornness regarding his deployment of Vrioni continued to cost him.
3 - Tactical genius time
As I was bestowed upon the title of tactical genius by [name redacted], let’s take a look at the changes Peay made.
The 4-1-4-1 was an intriguing choice for Peay. It saw him stick with a single striker (bad) but saw Noel Buck enter the starting XI (good).
Speaking of the starting XI, Peay made some interesting choices. He moved DeJuan Jones to right back and had Matt Polster at left back.
The 30-year-old had never played there before and didn’t exactly perform well. The formation change saw Polster transition to a midfield role on the attack but this left the Revs susceptible to the counter attack.
I would much prefer to have Jones at his usual position on the left and have Farrell out right back. Mr. Rev is a much better option when defending even if it means Polster goes to the bench.
The decision to move Ian Harkes to the bench is also a puzzling one. While I don’t hate having Mark-Anthony Kaye as the defensive midfielder, I wouldn’t have minded seeing Harkes in that role.
Overall the change really failed to make an impact as Vrioni still struggled to get service and it created another liability for New England’s defense.
So while I imagine Peay won’t be throwing his tactical plan in the trash, there might be some tweaking as he looks to get the Revolution back on track before the playoffs and secure his first win as interim head coach.