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Know Your Enemy: New England Revolution - Meeting The First: Tactics, Exploitation & Points Of Interest

Click here for part One: Lineup and Form.

The Tactics

Tactically speaking, their game plan has depended largely on personnel, specifically in the middle of the park.

With Joseph and Simms locking down the centre, New England was more likely to use width to move the ball forward, with tricky outside midfielder, overlapping full-backs, and a dynamic speedy forward in Sene to stretch opposition back-lines.

With Feilhaber stationed in the middle over recent matches, the Revolution have been much more of a threat moving through the middle. His ability to pick a through-ball with the best in the league is capable of unlocking even the sturdiest defenses, especially when he pairs with Rowe late in the match - danger.

In full-backs Alston and Tierney New England have a pair of additional weapons with different skill-sets. On the right, Alston is more of a work-horse, tirelessly getting up and down the pitch, attacking the opponent's end-line, looking to get involved and provide crosses when possible. Tierney is less-likely to move as far into opposition territory, but has a fine left-foot to swing service from his flank, often taking command of dead-ball situations - corners, free kicks, even direct strikes on goal on occasion.

Blake Brettschneider and Simms, both deemed surplus to requirements at DC, have been serviceable parts for Heaps and the Revs, but two foreign acquisitions have really helped provide the something special that has seen New England improve over last season.

Firstly, Nguyen, the tricky American International returned from Vietnam, selected by Vancouver and then released prior to the beginning of the season has added a sense of balance to the attack. He is a constant threat on the ball down the left, adept at taking on defenders one-on-one or combining with his teammates.

His three goal performance against Vancouver will long live in the memory, especially the final goal - a thing of beauty.

The other important new-arrival was Sene. Boasting a resume that includes a youth career at Paris Saint-Germain and time with Bayern Munich's reserves, the French striker is a constant threat, weaving from the centre of the pitch to either side, latching onto long passes, dribbling through defenses, and providing an aerial threat from set-pieces and crosses.

His seven goals places him in the top five goal-scorers in the league at this juncture, often producing the kind of moments that gets fans out of their seats.

He is extremely left-footed, however, and forcing him to use his right is the best course of action should he find himself in with a chance.

The Revolution have found their greatest success working the ball out into the wide areas and sending crosses into the box, but are a constant threat of shots from distance- they are quite fond of a layback pass, teeing up a late arriving teammate for a powerful shot.

It many ways their new found spirit under Heaps of working tirelessly when out of possession and never giving up on a ball has helped rejuvenated a side that had grown stagnant with the one-dimensional play under Nicol.


New England has been very susceptible to dead-ball situations, a factor Toronto will have to make use of if they hope to find any joy in Saturday's match.

Four times from free kicks and twice from corners their defensive marking has been lax, allowing the opposition to find the back of the net.

This is in part due to Reis, who is a very aggressive keeper when it comes to leaving the safety of his line. While it is desirable to have a net-minder who takes command of his area, Reis is wild and comes charging out far too often.

He was caught in No Man's Land against New York, allowing Thierry Henry to score a wonder goal - and eventual game-winner - forced to stand sheepishly as the finish looped over his head.

TFC needs to be aware of his tendency to go walk-abouts and look for chances to shoot from distance, while making the most of dead-balls by getting to them and putting them on goal.

When Reis does make a save, often there are rebounds to be had. A further three goals have come after the initial threat was dealt with, but not cleared properly.

Be persistent, get numbers into the box and fight for those second and third balls.

Regardless of how much Heaps has transformed the side from Nicol's lunch-pail gang in his short time in charge, by adding some finesse and a sharp edge to the attack, the Revolution is still a hard-working team.

Toronto needs to be prepared for the proverbial battle for the full ninety minutes; they will have to leave it all on the pitch to take something against this New England side.

Limiting Feilhaber's ability to pick passes, clogging lanes and pressuring the man in possession will be key, while somebody on the back-line will have to match Sene's athleticism, while remaining aware of how much he will drift from side to side throughout the game.

Be ready for the late addition of Rowe, to provide a spark midway through the second half.

Points of Interest

New England Revolution

Eastern Conference 7th Place

Points: 17 Played: 14 Wins 5 Losses 7 Draws 2

Goals For: 18 Goals Against: 18 Goal Differential: 0

At Home: 4-1-2

On the Road: 1-6-0

Last Five: W-T-L-W-T

This match is the first of two meetings between the sides, the second scheduled for July 14th at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

The sides last met in the final match of the 2011 season, an entertaining - considering both sides were well out of the playoff picture at the bottom of the East - 2-2 draw on goals from Nick Soolsma, Moncef Zerka, Milton Caraglio, and Danny Koevermans.

The Revolution have never won at BMO Field in five matches (two losses and three draws), each time conceding in the second half to turn leads into draws and draws into losses.

In an interesting parallel to close the first five year plan at TFC, last season's draw mirror season one's final match, another 2-2 draw in Toronto with Danny Dichio scoring a 92nd minute leveler that sparked a joyful pitch invasion.

Toronto's biggest win in this fixture came in September of 2009 - 3-1: Shalrie Joseph opening the scoring in the 13th minute for New England only for Amado Guevara to reply within a minute - the first of a brace. Dwayne De Rosario gave Toronto the lead in 67th and Guevara finished it off three minutes later.

Shalrie Joseph is the only player to have featured in all eleven matches between the clubs and has been a bane to Toronto, scoring two goal and adding two assists over the spell. Should he miss the match, as projected, that run would of course come to an end.

After the match, the two sides will play a reserve game, the sun should have gone down behind the west stand by then so stick around.

Some suggested reading:

Zak Boggs - the footballing doctor - First, it's great that a guy named Boggs is playing in the Boston-area. Second, he does cancer research in his spare time.

Paul Mariner will be facing his former employer for the first time. Mariner spent some six seasons with the Revolution as an assistant manager, before embarking on his own career in the top spot with Plymouth Argyle. Two of the more prominent faces that remain at the club from his time there - Heaps and Reis - took some time to discuss his appointment and what the rendez-vous would mean for them.

At the time of print they were "Unsure of what to expect from Toronto tactically" and "planning to beat him and have a beer and laugh afterwards."

You can find more of James Grossi’s insightful ramblings over at Partially Obstructed View and follow him on twitter @Grawsee