FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – In the 38th minute of the New England Revolution’s match vs. New York City FC last Saturday, Chris Tierney and Diego Fagundez lined up over a free kick from about twenty yards out, just outside of the box.
Tierney charged forward on the spot and unleashed a wicked, left-footed shot that NYCFC seemed powerless against.
It’s that type of influence with his left foot that has followed the New England attack up the left flank for nine seasons and has proved downright deadly at times -- be it off of set pieces or in delivering precision service into the box.
“He probably has one of the best left foots in the league,” said Fagundez, who has spent much of his six-year career playing in front of Tierney. “It’s nice that we have him and that we can use that as an advantage.”
The nine-year veteran knows that his left is his bread-and-butter, and he has worked tirelessly to maintain and improve that aspect of his game.
Although there wasn’t a specific left-footer that he grew up idolizing, there was someone who he had a keen eye on -- and he did his best to follow suit.
“I started watching Manchester United is how I kind of got into soccer,” said Tierney, who's played in 190 games, fifth-most in New England history. “So I watched David Beckham play a lot and always tried to just emulate his body shape in the way that he served the ball. But once you kind of realize what your game is, I realized I’m not a dribbler, so you kind of have to make sure you’re really good at something in order to play at a higher level. I just kept working on it throughout my career.”
His masterful strike at Yankee Stadium last weekend was the 10th goal of his career, but it’s the services that stand out most to both Tierney and his teammates.
Over the years, the left back has done it from every angle, corner and set piece, allowing his teammates that push the play ahead of him to get into better positions and to do so with confidence.
“It definitely helps because you know that he can whip balls into the box. When you have a player like him, I can pinch in in the middle and leave the flanks for him. That helps me and him both at the same time,” Fagundez told MLSsoccer.com. “Everyone’s very confident in him. Everyone can hit a ball, but of course he’s one of those guys that can hit the ball from anywhere. We try to get that strength and try to do everything we can with it.”
Although he's had a lot, Tierney said his favorite assist came in the 2014 Eastern Conference final when he set up Charlie Davies for a goal that helped send the Revs to the MLS Cup final.
“I’ve always been a guy that’s looking to set up teammates,” said Tierney who has 32 assists in his career, including a career high six helpers last season. “It’s just as satisfying, if not more for me to whip in a good ball. Because that’s my job.”
While at times he has pushed up to play a left midfield position, he has mostly plied his trade at the fullback position, making the fact that he is just four assists shy of moving into second all-time on the Revs’ all-time leaderboard even more impressive.
The only other defender in the club’s top ten happens to be current coach Jay Heaps, who offered up 26 assists in 243 matches with New England.
“Every player has to bring something unique. For me, I always try to make sure my service is on point,” Tierney said. “That’s my job, to deliver for this team. That’s what I work on primarily in training. That’s the aspect of my game that I work on the most.”