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Leg 1
11/23 FINAL
1LA
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11/30 9:00pm
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LA
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Eastern Conference Championship

Revs looking to pick up pace

New England Revolution manager Steve Nicol admits that his charges need to perform better on the field after a shaky performance in Saturday's 2-1 home defeat against Kansas City.

Nicol was overtly displeased with his side's efforts in the match. After training on Tuesday, the former Scottish international maintained that those feelings have not subsided.

"I feel no differently today [than I did on Saturday]," said Nicol. "The players have to be disappointed with their performances on Saturday night. They played against a team that was better than them."

New England thrives on maintaining shape and pressure in all areas of the field, simple passing, and a defense first mantra that has brought unqualified success during Nicol's two and a half year tenure as coach. Things did not go according to plan on Saturday, according to the Revolution skipper.

"We never stuck to the plan," said Nicol. "We have to stick to what we do best, which is playing simple. We have to do the things we want to do. We need to go forward in the right manner, so when the play switches, everyone is ready and in the proper positions to defend. Simple things like that [need to be done]."

Revolution midfielder Steve Ralston noted that his team, usually compact and difficult to break down, bore the full effects of Kansas City's counterattacking capabilities and the dynamic forward pairing of Davy Arnaud and Josh Wolff.

"We were all upset," said Ralston. "We didn't play well. We got too stretched out. We had some chances. As bad as we played, we still had the chances to win the game."

Nicol can take heart from the number of scoring chances created by his side. Less heartening is that five or six quality scoring chances turned into one goal against Kansas City. With Taylor Twellman starting to round back into form with two goals in his past three matches, the Revolution will regain its most potent offensive weapon. For the moment, the focus is on the need to convert when presented with opportunities.

"We need to continue to make chances and play better," said Nicol. "If we can do that when we're off the cuff, imagine what we are capable of doing when we're on form."

Ralston admits that drastically altering a side that has lost one match from eight would be foolhardy, but he also notes the need for three points against D.C. at the weekend.

"It was only one match," said Ralston. "We didn't expect to win 14 straight matches. We need better results. We caught a break because D.C. and Chicago both tied."

Kyle McCarthy is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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