New England Revolution head coach Steve Nicol was impressed with the composure of his side after a 4-1 victory against Real Salt Lake.
Goals from Clint Dempsey and Taylor Twellman within the opening 16 minutes set the tone. Jason Kreis threw the visitors with a lifeline with a well-struck free kick in the 31st minute. Andy Williams headed into his own goal in the 76th minute to extend the Revolution lead before Khano Smith erased any doubt with a powerful blast in the 90th minute.
After Real had drawn to within one and his side had gone 40 minutes without finding the third, Nicol needed his side to find the net to seal victory.
"We would have preferred to put it away earlier," said Nicol. "When we went 2-0 up, we started coasting. We had to be on our guard. However, we were confident that we would get another goal."
Nicol was displeased that his side did not consolidate the advantage into more goals.
"We were in absolute control. We should have solidified. A bad call by the ref, one of many, and they got one," Nicol said.
At the break, Nicol tweaked his tactics to reinforce keeping the ball on ground and spreading the field. As the first half wound to a close, the Revolution stopped moving the ball down the left hand side of the field and relied on long balls over the top to mount the offense.
Nicol suggested that his side needed to avoid the long passes and focus on maintaining balance with its wing play.
"We wanted to get back to passing the ball," said Nicol. "With Pope and Dunseth at the back, you can't play high balls into them. They want that. We want to use as many different ways of getting the ball up the pitch as possible."
Real Salt Lake head coach John Ellinger opted for a defensive 4-5-1 formation that packed the midfield in order to stifle the home side.
The extra bodies in midfield allowed Jay Heaps to surge forward. The veteran defender earned two assists on the evening and created a multitude of dangerous chances.
"They were playing a 4-5-1, which left some space," said Heaps. "I was just trying to sneak into that area. They were just sitting back."
Heaps admits that the return of a multitude of former Revolution players to Gillette Stadium increased the intensity for the midweek encounter.
"With Rusty [Pierce], Brian [Kamler], [Brian] Dunseth, Chris [Brown], and Andy [Williams] in the match, there was a lot of emotion," said Heaps. "We wanted to show them that we were just as good as we were earlier in the season."
Kyle McCarthy is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.