After much anticipation the New England Revolution opened their 2015 MLS season with a 3-0 defeat at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on Sunday night.
Playing just over three months after losing in the MLS Cup 2014, New England looked a shadow of the side that lost to LA. Without AJ Soares (departure) and Jermain Jones (injury) the Revs had a softness at the back that Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins were more than happy to take advantage of.
The heap map above illustrates the problems that Jay Heaps side had defensively. The center back pairing of Andrew Farrell and Jose Goncalves once again failed to click. They are too far apart to effectively cover each other, and Dempsey and Martins played in that space between them all night.
By comparison, look at the heat map of the Sounders two center backs, Brad Evans and Chad Marshall, who not only are closer together than their New England counterparts, but they also covered a lot more ground defensively.
Heaps tried this partnership at the beginning of last season before being forced to move Farrell to right back and bring in the more physical AJ Soares alongside Conclaves. Without Soares in 2015, Revs GM Mike Burns will need to bring in a physical center back if the Revs are to compete for the MLS Cup as expected.
Seattle took a 2-0 lead into the halftime break following goals by their forward pairing of Dempsey and Martins. Dempsey, who played for the Revs from 2004-06, gave his side a 1-0 lead in the 25th minute, converting a penalty kick after he had bene pulled down in the box by Juan Agudelo. The Sounders doubled their lead 16 minutes later with Dempsey again playing a role. He collected the ball in midfield and sent a pass to Tyrone Mears on the right flank. The Seattle defender sent a cross into the box for Martins, who out-jumped Revolution defender Andrew Farrell and headed the ball past Bobby Shuttleworth from seven yards out, giving Seattle a 2-0 lead.
Kelyn Rowe had the best chance of the opening half for New England less than a minute before Martins’ goal, but his shot was touched around the post by Sounders’ goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
The Sounders added a third goal in the 67th minute when Marco Pappa played Martins in behind the Revolution defense and he was able to lay the ball off to Dempsey, who rolled his shot into the open net for his second goal of the game, giving Seattle a 3-0 victory.