Youth tactics abroad help Revs' Lechner exploit TFC defense

New England Revolution defender Flo Lechner

Photo Credit: 
Courtesy of New England Revolution

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Every foray that Flo Lechner made into Toronto FC's half on Saturday stemmed from the knowledge he gained as a young player in Germany.

Lengthy tactical sessions on the fundamentals of the 4-4-2 formation provided the foundation for his development as a right back. Those tutorials taught him that space – particularly when chasing the game – needed to be filled in order to use it properly.

When TFC sat back in the second half and invited the Revs to push forward, Lechner said he knew exactly what he needed to do.

“I did it my whole life,” Lechner told MLSsoccer.com. “In Europe, we had a lot of tactics sessions from the youth academy with the 4-4-2. The outside backs were running up all of the time into the space. Against Toronto, it was perfect for the outside backs because they were playing a small diamond and there was a lot of space on the outside. When there is space, you should take it and I took it.”

The 31-year-old defender surged forward frequently after entering the match for a hamstring-bothered Kevin Alston after 40 minutes. He provided plenty of service from the right flank as the Revs tried to find a way back into the game, but his last contribution of the match ultimately proved his most important. Lechner latched onto a pass from Fernando Cárdenas and supplied the cross for fellow fullback Chris Tierney to slot home in the 94th minute to snatch a 2-2 draw.

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While that particular play may have contradicted all of knowledge he gained as a young player, Lechner said the end result ensured the deviation from standard practice worked out just fine.

“It was tactically not right because both outside backs should not be up at the same time, but it doesn't matter for us,” Lechner said.

Lechner's overall performance mattered a great deal to Revolution head coach Jay Heaps. This particular situation wasn't exactly how Heaps wanted Lechner to feature in his first match since suffering a fifth metatarsal fracture during an April training session, but the Revs boss said his fullback coped well under difficult circumstances.

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“I think he did excellently going forward and he did a nice job sitting in defensively,” Heaps said. “He's still getting up to speed with the athleticism in the league. The more we give him on the opposing players, the better he'll be. Knowing that he's going to start and that he's going to play, those are [important things].”

It may take a couple of more days before Lechner knows whether he will assume the right back role against Seattle on Saturday (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online). Alston is currently listed as out on the Revolution injury list with left hamstring tightness, but his status for the match remains uncertain. Lechner said he'll be ready to put his ability and his knowledge to use once more if called upon.

“For me, I try to give my best,” Lechner said. “When Jay says I'll play on Saturday. "When I have the spot, it's good for me and I'll try to keep the spot.”