May 26, 2018; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Whitecaps forward Kei Kamara (23) shoots the ball against New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner (30) during the first half at BC Place. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
The New England Revolution let a pair of leads slip in a 3-3 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday afternoon at BC Place. While New England displayed sharp form in the attack, its defending was frenetic and disorganized.
Here are three takeaways from the result:
Revs defense a letdown, while attack soars
Maybe the most impressive part of Saturday’s result was that the Revolution didn’t cave after giving up their two-goal lead in a matter of moments. They managed to reset and go up 3-2 when the momentum was stacked against them.
The game ended 3-3, but the Revs reasserted themselves on the road, which is something that doesn’t typically happen to this club.
Even so, New England’s defending was a letdown on the day. Not to take anything away from Cristian Techera’s performance for the Whitecaps – but the Revolution’s defending on each of his three goals was subpar.
On Techera’s first two goals, the Revs back line got caught up in Vancouver’s press and then either gave the ball away cheaply, didn’t mark properly or did both. On his third goal, the Revolution got caught on a counterattack.
The Revolution back line certainly isn’t the best in Major League Soccer, but not conceding a two-goal lead in a matter of minutes is a basic expectation.
Goals created without high press
Cristian Penilla and Diego Fagundez had excellent performances. Penilla set up and scored the first and second goals, respectively. Fagundez helped Penilla orchestrate the second, then assisted on Teal Bunbury’s go-ahead goal to temporarily make it 3-2.
Each of New England’s three goals came from breaking down Vancouver. There was no need for the high press – precise passing from Penilla and Fagundez, coupled with a lucky deflection and a pair of clean finishes, gave the Revolution their highest scoring output on the road since a 3-2 win against the Montreal Impact last October.
In last week’s 1-0 loss to the Columbus Crew, it seemed like the Revolution didn’t have a back-up plan if their high press failed.
They proved otherwise Saturday in Vancouver, stringing together a number of strong attacking sequences and even winning the game’s overall possession battle 54.4 percent to 45.6 percent.
Bunbury does Kamara’s old job — better
Kei Kamara failed to convert against his former team Saturday – and it was very much his fault.
He had a point-blank bid saved by Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner (in part, because he shot right at Turner) and then missed a wide-open goal mouth in the second half.
Kamara has been a productive signing for the Whitecaps since they acquired him in the winter from New England, having scored four goals through nine games. But Kamara’s poor finishing Saturday was emblematic of his struggles in New England; he never seemed to truly jell in Foxborough and he did more missing than scoring.
Tactically, Teal Bunbury seems better suited for the No. 9 role. The results show it. Bunbury is finishing chances at a decent clip, with a shot conversion rate of 22.2, which is the fifth-most in the league among players with at least six goals.
Of course, Bunbury isn’t doing it alone. His consistent finishing this season is thanks in large part to the vision of both Fagundez and Penilla, plus the attack-minded tactics of head coach Brad Friedel.
In short, Bunbury is the spearhead to a lineup that scores goals. Defending is a different story.