Revolution 2 Timbers 2
The New England Revolution opened the season with a 2-2 draw in Providence Park. Coming into the match, a draw away to the Timbers was a good result. That does not change the pain as the Revs gave up two leads. Overall, my feelings about the game as it progressed and finished, the draw was probably the correct result.
The Revolution had two main injury concerns in the starting eleven, with Matt Turner and Henry Kessler coming into this game. A rumored foot injury from the Honduras USMNT match keeps Turner sidelined, while Kessler recently recovered from a muscle injury and was not match fit. These circumstances led to debuts for both Omar Gonzalez and Earl Edwards Jr.
41′: New England Goal: Brandon Bye: 1-0
On their 6th corner of the first half, Carles Gil’s floated ball to the back post was met by Brandon Bye. His header deflected off the underside of the crossbar on the far side of the goal and continued in. Gil’s delivery continues to be on the money, and as they continued their connections from last season. They connected one of both of Bye’s goals last year from similar positions (left-sided cross/freekick).
I have rewatched this goal several times, looking for anything that could have been done differently on the defensive side. Honestly, this is Bye just getting up and out-jumping the defenders around him. Portland on corners looks to be using a mixture of zonal marking within the 6-yard box complemented with man-marking on the runners. While Bye’s mark kept up with him, the man in the six-yard box was flat-footed and, while having a solid attempt, could not defend the out-swinging ball.
51′: VAR Review: No Penalty
Yimmi Chara went down in the box after contacting Sebastian Lletget’s standing leg. Chara swung through and connected with Lletget’s leg, which was planted. He did attempt the ball before planting his leg, which is where people see this as a penalty.
This close call went to VAR after being not called a penalty on the field. Honestly, I think this is one of those VAR reviews where if it had been called a penalty, it would not have been overturned. While I do not think it was a pen, I can understand the viewpoint.
I went looking for PRO’s video describing the call but they had not published it at the time of writing. These have been intriguing in the past seasons and help clarify these decisions.
60′: Portland Timbers Goal: Dairon Asprilla: 1-1
Dairon Asprilla beat the Revolution defensive line and slot home behind Earl Edwards Jr. A deft chip from Santiago Moreno sliced between Omar Gonzalez and Dejuan Jones, giving Asprilla a wide-open look. While Edwards Jr. rushed out to attempt to make himself big, there was little he could do to stop the equalizer.
Defensively, this is sloppy from the Revolution. Yimmi Chara breaks through the Revolution lines starting with the build-up before stumbling. For the Revolution, Lletget was not quick enough to react, which allowed Chara to regain possession. He then made a simple pass to Marino. Marino can then cut through the center of the Revolution’s defensive shape around Polster before finding the open Asprilla. Finally, Brandon Bye was late in stepping up, allowing Asprilla to stay onside. The worst part of Bye’s error is that he looks down the line and could have easily stepped up.
63′: New England Revolution: Goal: Sebastian Lletget: 2-1
With an almost instantaneous response, silencing Timber Joey Sebastian Llletget hit a first time shot into the far side past the diving Aljaz Ivacic. Dejuan Jones was able to find the seem down the line and get the cross into the open space just to the left of the spot.
The build-up to this goal is what Revolution fans will want to continue to see from their side. A throw-in from Jones was held up by Bou, who got a quick pass off to McNamara. Behind this, Jones made an overlapping run down the wing before crossing into the 18. What is lost in everything is the run that Buksa makes to the front post. He pulls both of the center backs with him on his run, opening up the space from Lletget.
From a defensive standpoint, the Timbers covered themselves decently but were late to see the run of Jones. He came through a pile of players, and a center midfielder ended up attempting to black the cross. The biggest issue was the breakdown of having both center backs drawn to Buksa. While this is good for the Revolution, the Timbers could have had better cover if the left center back had stayed with Lletget.
78′: Portland Timbers Goal: Yimmi Chara: 2-2
This is a fantastically taken goal by Chara. While the Revolution’s defensive issues in the build-up, nothing can be taken away from the finish. A sublime bicycle kick found its way past a diving Earl Edwards Jr.
The major problem with this goal for the Revolution is the clearing of the ball into the box. Whether it was due to the run across his face or slightly mistiming his jump, Farrell’s clearance sadly does not go to his extended mark. Hitting off his shoulder, it fell to the feet of a wide-open Chara. The other moment is that there may have been poor communication as Farrell and Jones seem to run across each other following their marks. There is always the possibility that if they had traded marks, Bye would have been covering and helped make the attempt more difficult.
In my opinion, the man of the match is Earl Edward Jr. Coming into the starting line-up and making his first start and appearance in MLS since 2018; he performed exceptionally well. He was quick off his line and decisive in making his decisions. Edwards Jr. also made a couple of fantastic saves to keep the game level and the Revs in the game. His overall demeanor was one of confidence, which helped the backline believe that he would be there when called upon. While there were two goals scored, he could do little to stop either.
Offensively, the team looks like they will find their goals. The movement and connections are coming between Lletget, Gil, Buksa, and Bou. Even Altidore, with a brief time on the field, looked to have some rhythm with the front. If the pieces continue to grow and adapt together, the 65 goals scored last year should be eclipsed.
There seemed to be similar issues on the defensive side at times last season. While this is only the first game, the problems do look correctable. Holding a line together can have its moments of issues, but time should make this group better at keeping it together. Communication will be essential for this group. It will be interesting to see what happens once Kessler gets healthy, but this group does need some time.