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New England Revolution needed more bite against Columbus

Federico Higuain and New England Revolution midfielder Carles Gi
Apr 6, 2019; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Crew SC forward Federico Higuain (10) and New England Revolution midfielder Carles Gil (22) have a discussion before a free kick at MAPFRE Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Revolution fell to Columbus Crew SC 1-0 Saturday night. The result brings the Revolution to 1-4-1 on the young season.

Here are three takeaways on New England’s performance:

There’s more to a game than a offside non-call

The lone breakthrough in this game involved some controversy. Referee Rubiel Vazquez called a generous foul on Teal Bunbury, which led to the free kick that produced Columbus’ goal.

If that wasn’t enough, video replay showed that Josh Williams, who headed in Federico Higuain’s cross on the set piece, was a hair offside because he extended his arm past the last defender when the ball was served.

Revolution coach Brad Friedel made his feelings known about the non-call after the game.

“The free kick is offside,” Friedel said. “I don’t understand how you can’t see that he’s a shoulder offside. It’s another one. It seems that we’re on the opposite end of a lot of VAR decisions.

“But I’m going to go back to a lot of the positives. We were very, very good today and did not deserve to lose.”

Williams was offside, but referees, rightly or wrongly, are also told to give the attacking player the benefit of the doubt in those cases when only a part of their body is offside. The marking on the set pieces was also suspect:

Friedel was rightly pleased with his team’s effort, particularly after going down to 10 men after Michael Mancienne was red carded. The Revs outplayed the Crew most of the game and fought for 47 percent of possession.

That said, he should be concerned that his team’s efforts didn’t lead to many chances created. New England had just two shots on target Saturday, one of which came from outside the box.

Strikers need target practice?

If you leave out Carles Gil – and you should, because he’s been playing as a playmaking midfielder who often drops deep to create chances – New England strikers have yet to record a shot on goal this season.

Teal Bunbury has played in every game so far and has yet to fire a shot on goal. Same goes for Juan Agudelo, who has played in three games, and Juan Fernando Caicedo, who has played in two games and also earned his first start of the season on Saturday against Columbus.

In fairness, Cristian Penilla, who is listed as a forward/midfielder has shot on goal twice – including once against Columbus. But Penilla plays mostly on the wing.

The other shot on goal against the Crew came from Jalil Anibaba, a defender.

New England has five goals so far this season, three of which came from Gil. Anibaba scored one and Brandon Bye, another defender, scored the other.

It’s good that the Revolution boast a plurality of scoring threats, but having gun-shy forwards isn’t sustainable in the long term. The fact that Bunbury and Agudelo especially haven’t yet fired a shot on target should be concerning. Bunbury in particular got off to a hot scoring start last season by being opportunistic in front of the net; for the first half of 2018, Bunbury had one of the best shots to goals ratios in the league.

In short, you have to hit the target to have a chance at scoring.

The good news is that Bunbury is shooting. He’s got 11 shots overall so far this season. Agudelo and Caicedo both have three, while rookie Tajon Buchanan has two.

Michael Mancienne, New England Patriots defensive tackle

This tackle was not one of Michael Mancienne’s finer moments:

Unless of course he is making the case to leave the Revolution and try out for New England’s other football team.

Mancienne was already on a yellow card when he made that crunching tackle on Higuain, so it’s unclear what he thought he was doing when he went in hard on the Crew’s marquee midfielder.

Regardless, the Revolution should expect more than this from their captain and highest-paid defender.

That said, his suspension next weekend against Atlanta United at Gillette Stadium gives the Revolution a chance to try out the Anibaba-Antonio Delamea center back a second time this season. The first time the two paired together, the Revs managed a 1-1 tie at FC Dallas that in retrospect was quite impressive. 

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