Once again, Minnesota United were routed and conceded five goals to the New England Revs last weekend. It should go without saying at this point that things are not clicking for the Loons defensively.
This didn’t take long. At just over three minutes in to the match, Bobby Shuttleworth was already picking the ball up out of his net.
The Revs attacked down the United’s right defensive flank. Scott Caldwell (green, bottom) plays a through ball down the wing to Chris Tierney (green, top).
Right-back Kevin Venegas (red) is sucked in tight to the center backs, leaving acres of space out wide for Tierney to run on to the ball from Caldwell. Mo Saeid (blue) is then left to deal with two players plus the onrushing Tierney.
As I’m sure you know at this point, this doesn’t end well for MNUFC.
Saeid attempts to close down Tierney, but the Rev’s fullback gets his cross in with relative ease. Meanwhile, Kevin Venegas (red) still hasn’t really found anyone to cover. The two centerbacks (black) are marking the same person. Collen Warner (blue) allows Agudelo (green) to get in front of him to head the ball into the net.
If you saw a frame from a few seconds before the second goal, it actually looks like all of the defenders are properly positioned and prepared to deal with this attack.
However, looks can be deceiving. Let’s take this back a second to see the pass that starts this attack.
The Revs manage to bypass United’s midfield with a killer ball through a seam and in behind the defense. Since Lee Nguyen (green, right) is pulling out wide, Venegas (red) should track him. He doesn’t.
Here we can see “Viva” Venegas (red) is still playing catch up. At the back post, Jerome Thiesson (blue) is tracking Kei Kamara, but he’s allowed the crafty forward to get behind him and in to his blind spot. This proves to be an issue later.
If you’ll look at Vadim Demidov (black), you’ll see the Loons’ defender falling over as Agudelo plays a pass around him. Agudelo’s agility proved to be a problem for Demi throughout, as exemplified by the penalty decision.
As Agudelo’s pass comes across the six-yard box, Kamara races in front of Thiesson and taps in what will surely be one of the easiest goals he’ll score all season.
Now, you can argue over whether or not this was actually a foul all day long. But in the run of play, the referee only gets one look at it, and I totally understand why he awarded this penalty kick.
Agudelo troubled United’s captain all game and exposed his lack of mobility. When the young American cuts hard towards the end line, Demidov is unable to change directions as quickly as his opponent. Instead of letting Agudelo blow by him, the Norwegian appears to shove the forward over.
This gif shows everything you need to see about the fourth goal. The point of attack is switched and the Revs attack down Minnesota’s right. Kevin Venegas has pulled towards the center of the field and doesn’t close down Agudelo quick enough, who slams a shot in at the near post.
Second Half + Positives
Despite how the scoreline looked, the New England match wasn’t all bad. The team definitely looked better in the second half (as if that required much). Collen Warner’s strike came out of nowhere and was beautiful to watch, but it was pretty much the only good part of the first half.
In the second half, United looked much more solid. Manager Adrian Heath sent Jermaine Taylor and Abu Danladi on for Bashkim Kadrii and Miguel Ibarra. respectively, as the team switched to a 5-3-2 formation. Thiesson and Venegas played as wingbacks for a trio of centerbacks in Taylor, Danladi, and Brent Kallman.
The above shot shows how this worked in practice. The three centerbacks (black) sit deep and generally patrol their own box. Leftback Thiesson is back defending right now, but this formation allows him and Venegas (red) to have far more attacking license.
To his credit, Venegas was much improved in the second half. His positioning and skill set seem more naturally suited to the attacking aspects of the wingback role. He was able to get forward as he loves to do and play in some dangerous crosses/
Finally, Woodbury’s Finest proved that last week’s strong showing that got him on to the bench of the Team of the Week was no fluke. He once again looked composed and calm amid an often chaotic defense and even managed to snag his first MLS goal. Kallman ought to be one of the first names on Inchy’s team sheets at this point.
Have any thoughts on what went well and what didn’t against New England? Have an opinion on how you think the Loons should line up this week? Let us know in the comments below!