Kei Kamara of the New England Revolution header Columbus Crew SC

Toronto FC now lead the Eastern Conference in points per game, have the best goal differential and the best goals against. There is no shame in losing to the Reds, which is exactly what the New England Revolution did on Saturday evening.


There is a bit, however, in getting drubbed 4-1. New England competed hard for the first 20 minutes and did a good job of denying Sebastian Giovinco the ball, until the reigning MVP opened the scoring with a curler. Once the Revs dug that hole, their shoulders slumped, the fight went out of them, and the result -- if not necessarily the scoreline -- became inevitable.


I've talked a lot about the Revs' defense this season, and it remains a concern.


I'm also officially concerned about the attack, and specifically Kei Kamara's fit in it. Kamara has four goals in 12 games since coming over from Columbus in the spring, and while that's not a terrible return it's not exactly DP-level, either. And here's the issue:



This is New England's default setting. They get the ball into the final third, keep it there and try to create goals out of either some intricate combination play around the corners of the box, or on crosses to -- rather than through -- the area.


Kamara is good at attacking crosses. He scored on a bunch of them last season with Crew SC.


Not all crosses are created equal, however. Columbus were a pure transition team last season, preferring to hold the ball deep, draw the defense up the field, and then send runners (winger Ethan Finlay, or one of the overlapping fullbacks) through at pace. The idea was to spin the defense around and make them run at their own goal, and Crew SC were very good at it.


New England don't really do that all that much. Rather than "early crosses against transitioning defenses" it's more "late crosses against set defenses, and hope for a knockdown." And thus when they go down a goal or two, they become almost entirely predictable.


Toronto took advantage of that, as have a host of other teams in the last two months. During their last eight games, the Revs have scored just eight goals, been shut out three times and posted a record of 2-5-1, all while sinking toward the red line. Kamara's scored four times in that span, but not one has been on a cross from open play, and Lee Nguyen's seen his preferred area of operation get more and more crowded.


It was a difficult fit from the beginning, and still is. Either the players have to change, or the system does.