New England Post-match Reaction, Plus Everton Friendly Preview
The way that I sum up Sunday’s performance against Revolution is that this is EXACTLY what should have happened. No more scoreless draws at home, THIS is what you do to a bad team who is also missing their best player. Union dominated possession and had all of the threatening chances in the match. They made the Revs look like the only reason they were on the field was because the MLS schedule told them they had to be there. From New England’s perspective, the smartest people on their side were the member of the supporters’ group, “The Fort,” who staged a walkout in the 17th minute in protest of their team’s front office. Those lucky people saw their side down only a single goal, and as the rest of us who watched the whole match know, it only got worse for NE from there.
I didn’t bother submitting grades for this match because that would be giving them credit for something they were supposed to do. I would have high praise for them winning 5-0, but seeing how they really won 2-0, adding a breakaway in the waning seconds, they deserve just standard compliments. A similar performance in their next league match on Friday, July 29, against defending MLS Cup Champion Colorado Rapids would carry far more weight.
As to these friendlies Union will be playing in the interim, I am a fan of the team doing this. My theory in sports is that you only get better by playing better players. These matches against Everton and Real Madrid are excellent opportunities to learn something from a collection of the best players in the world. I’m looking forward to seeing how Sheanon Williams and Carlos Valdes handle the likes of Leighton Baines and Tim Cahill. I’m also curious to see if playing in a no-pressure environment can get Sebastien Le Toux to score a goal, though dealing with Sylvain Distin and Johnny Heitinga could prove to be too much for him anyway. If nothing else, it will be a fantastic way for Union to view first-hand how a top-level club organizes itself and works to break down a defense.
The point that I hope Union take away from this match, and the match against Real Madrid on Saturday, is at least one technique or philosophy that they can incorporate into themselves to improve both individually and as a team. I know Everton is in preseason and this is just a money-grab for the club, but there’s no way that they want to lose to an American club team. They will play hard to prove their season readiness to manager David Moyes. Union should take this both as a challenge, and a bonding experience, to take down a team playing in the highest level of English Football. One thing I will be looking for is maybe Sheanon Williams being able to mirror Leighton Baines’ technique crossing balls from the defensive wing position, though Baines plays the left side. Should Sheanon improve that aspect of his game, he’ll earn the right to play in the All-Star game every year that he’s in MLS. Other than that, I hope Marouane Fellaini is on the trip because his white man afro is fantastic.
Nick, the other .5 of Unholy Union