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Drilling down on: at New England 0, Philadelphia 0

Philadelphia Union v New England Revolution

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 1: Brian Carroll #7 of Philadelphia Union battles for the ball with Ryan Guy #13 of New England Revolution during the second half of their 0-0 tie at Gillette Stadium on September 1, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

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Man of the Match: In a game like this, it had to be one of the defenders, and with Philadelphia looking better on the ball throughout the night, we’re going with New England’s.

A.J. Soares’ continued injury problems have given Stephen McCarthy a chance to solidify his place in the New England team, a chance the 24-year-old Hawaiian’s made the most of. On Saturday, he was one of the few players on the pitch who had an above average night, his work at the back helping to render Philadelphia’s possession useless.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • This was one of those bad, bad games. They happen every once in a while, and thankfully, they’ve gotten pretty rare. But this was 90-plus minutes all of us would love to have back.
  • The match started slow, with neither team exerting any pressure on the other. Philadelphia was able to establish a rhythm, building with short passes through the midfield. New England relied on more direct play along the ground, usually Benny Feilhaber trying to hit an attacker with a long, prodding ball in Carlos Valdes’s channel.
  • The Union was able to maintain their advantage in the middle thanks in part to the tactics resulting from Freddy Adu’s inclusion. The Philly designated player was back in the starting XI and playing through the middle. Michael Farfan was the left-most attacker for much of the match, even if he stayed inside the width of the penalty area.
  • As a result, Philadelphia had numbers through the middle but a completely open left flank. It gave Gabriel Farfan the chance to get forward, though Feilhaber’s passes helped pin him back.
  • Instead of just releasing Farfan to get that width on the left, John Hackworth briefly switched Danny Cruz, who started on the right, to that side mid-way through the half. Scoreboard told the results.
  • The one tactic that almost paid off for Philly was getting the ball behind right back Florian Lechner, allowing Antoine Hoppenot (in for Jack McInerney) to get behind the defense. Unfortunately, that left Adu, Farfan, and Cruz playing penalty box hawks. Scoreboard told the results.
  • As for New England, they seemed to miss Saer Sene, out for the season with a knee injury. Lee Nguyen was quiet on the left, while Feilhaber was pushed too deep by Philadelphia’s possession. Diego Fagundez (in for Sene) was the Revolution’s best chance to get on some of Feilhaber’s passes, but unable to do so, New England was unable to bring Jerry Bengston into the match.
  • With both teams already thinking about next year, there was little incentive for Hackworth and Jay Heaps to chase the points. So when the final whistle blew, Heaps briskly walked over to Hackworth, shook his hand, and headed to the locker room.