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Did New England defense show true colors in Dallas loss?

Apr 14, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Revolution forward Teal Bunbury (10) warms up prior to a game against Dallas FC at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Revolution lost its first home game of the season Saturday night, 1-0 to FC Dallas. The result also marked New England’s first loss at home since July 5, 2017 and ended the club’s 272-minute shutout streak.

Here are three takeaways from the Revolution’s performance:

1. New England looked disjointed at the back

Revolution head coach Brad Friedel deployed the same back line for the third consecutive game: Andrew Farrell on the right, Gabriel Somi on the left and Claude Dielna and Jalil Anibaba in the middle. Though this quartet had been effective in the team’s last four games, its performance was starkly different against Dallas.

New England was fortunate to concede only once; Dallas tightened the middle of the pitch and then exploited the Revolution on fast breaks and with attacking sequences that started on the wing.

Matt Turner finished the game with four saves – two of which came when he was the last line of defense. He was finally beat on Jacori Hayes’ 76th-minute goal, which came from a play that started on the flanks and got New England’s defenders completely out of sorts with their positioning.

2. New England’s attack wasn’t as clinical

Both the Revs and Dallas put forth sloppy performances that made for an often boring game. That said, it’s almost unbelievable that New England out-shot the visitors 21-11.

The reason: New England missed badly so many times that some shots weren’t even worth recording as scoring chances. Just six of the Revolution’s 21 shots were on target.

Teal Bunbury had a header tipped over the bar midway through the first half; Scott Caldwell laced a shot from the top of the penalty area that forced Dallas goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer to sprawl right and parry; Diego Fagundez bounced a shot inches wide of the far post in the second half; and Cristian Penilla, Juan Agudelo, and Luis Caicedo all had looks at goal, though most left much to be desired.

Friedel was disappointed with his team’s inaccuracy, but made it seem in his postgame remarks that he felt his team simply had an off night.

Worth nothing, however, is that Penilla was neutralized most of the contest. He was forced wide by Dallas’ hybrid back line that essentially employed two left backs. Penilla, who has been more involved than any other Revs player in the attack so far this season, was kept out of the penalty area and completed just 62 percent of his passes – the team’s worst passing accuracy on the night.

3. It was a penalty

Dallas defender Matt Hedges clipped Krisztian Nemeth from behind in the penalty area during second-half stoppage time. Nemeth said he felt it and also revealed that referee Hilario Grajeda told him VAR was consulted, even though play never stopped.

How VAR is used is still somewhat of a mystery. Friedel felt the call was “unquestionable” after he saw the play in postmatch highlights. Nemeth also said he feels VAR rules are confusing.

Regardless, it’s difficult not to reach the conclusion that Grajeda should have awarded a penalty, especially upon consulting replay. It appears Hedges clearly kicked Nemeth.

What do you think?

 

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