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Peay And Polster Discuss Tactics Recently Used By The Revolution
Peay: “We’ve got to reflect as a group in general and think about how we want to proceed forward.”
The New England Revolution changed their formation at halftime of Saturday’s game against Orlando City SC. Although they still lost, this could be a sign that they will stray from the tactics they’ve used in recent weeks, especially since the MLS playoffs are looming.
On Saturday, the Revs started in a 4-5-1 with Matt Polster playing as an inverted left back. The team has used this setup regularly since Clint Peay was named as the interim head coach.
Although the away side had some good moments in the opening stanza, they found themselves down 3-1 after 45 minutes.
This prompted three subs and a formation change at halftime. Gustavo Bou, Henry Kessler, and Ema Boateng entered for Giacomo Vrioni, Noel Buck, and Nacho Gil. The team also began to play a 5-3-2 with Matt Polster in the midfield.
“I thought the guys started very well in the system,” Peay said. “There weren’t any issues. I thought that we made some mistakes in a normal defensive shape, not with Polster out. I don’t think it was the system, I just think it was lack of execution of how we wanted to defend in certain moments.”
The Revs ultimately lost 3-2 after Carles Gil scored a late goal. The team is now 2W-4L-3D in league play since Bruce Arena was placed on administrative leave on Jul. 30. They’re 1W-3L-1D since Peay took charge on Sept. 12.
This isn’t necessarily an indictment on Peay’s system, but it could be an indication that the Revs don’t have enough time to properly implement it before the postseason begins.
“I think with formational changes and maybe positional changes, those things come with growing pains,” Polster said. “I don’t think it’s that we can’t do that formation. I just maybe think that at the moment, we’re not as comfortable with that.
“This late into the season, it’s difficult to get the confidence of building that. Maybe within a preseason or having a stretch of games that maybe aren’t as meaningful as they are now.
“It’s not that I don’t think we’re capable, but it is demanding. When we do play that, we have to keep the ball for longer spells because in that formation, you can get caught on the counter at times. It’s difficult.
“But then we switch it to a back five, and it was like a 5-3-2. I just felt more comfortable on the field and in that position. I think some guys felt more comfortable, and were able to float around, and pick up good spots on the pitch to hurt Orlando at times.”
The Revs still have two regular-season games to play before the postseason begins. They travel to Nashville next weekend before hosting the Philadelphia Union on Decision Day.
Peay noted, “We’ve got to reflect as a group in general and think about how we want to proceed forward.”
To say that this has been an odd season for the Revolution is an understatement.
Arena, who joined the club in 2019, resigned on Sept 10. Days later, Richie Williams, who was running the team, was removed as interim head coach. Long-time assistants Dave Van den Bergh and Shalrie Joseph also left the club.
Despite all of this, the Revs were second in the Eastern Conference when they faced the Colorado Rapids on Sept. 16. They’re now fifth, though they have a game in hand on every team that’s above them.
For Polster, it’s time to focus and get back to winning.
“It’s been a weird season so far,” Polster said. “You try to, as players and as an organization, to keep those things from growing in the locker room. It’s difficult at times. It’s not like we can’t see what’s going on, we’re there every day.
“We had a good start to the season. You want to pick up those points early on and get that confidence going. I thought we did that. Since everything’s kind of happened, we’ve had to pick ourselves up at times, and try to string together good matches.
“I think we went through a spell, for me, not playing some of the best opposition, and we weren’t able to pick up a majority of the points we wanted to. Now we’re trying to build confidence. We’re trying to understand the system, which we do, it’s just trying to find ways to win, and that’s the most important thing at this club.”