FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - For the second time this season last weekend, a Western Conference team came into Gillette Stadium and faced the league-leading New England Revolution with a defensive mentality.
In the first encounter against Chivas USA, a late goal by Clint Dempsey earned the victory for the Revolution. The second encounter against former coach Fernando Clavijo and the Colorado Rapids claim a point with a disciplined defensive display.
"We'll take teams coming in here and playing defense," said Revolution head coach Steve Nicol. "If [teams] try to do that all season, we're doing something right. [The Rapids] had one chance where they might have scored, while we generated a few chances."
Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph, wearing the armband in place of the recovering Joe Franchino, believes that his side will go at any team from the opening whistle on their home field.
"We're going to control play from the opening whistle," said Joseph. "We're going to go after teams. Unfortunately, we didn't get a goal [against Colorado], but we're still undefeated."
The absence of Ralston and Dempsey against the Rapids was acutely felt, as the Revolution struggled down the wings for most of the match and failed to attack the Colorado defense one-on-one.
Revolution defender Jay Heaps believes that his side missed Ralston's service into the penalty area.
"We didn't have the ability to get the ball into the box," said Heaps.
With the success of Colorado and Chivas USA in limiting the Revolution offensively, the question remains: How does the Revolution proceed to break down defensive-minded opposition as the season progresses?
"We need to get it wide and get it forward and get numbers into the box," said Joseph.
Heaps admits that his side is crestfallen after letting two points slip through their grasp, despite maintaining their undefeated record through nine matches.
"We're disappointed because we feel like we're getting three points every time we step out at home," said Heaps.
Revolution 'keeper Matt Reis, who preserved the tie with a crucial 49th minute tip of a Kyle Beckerman drive on to his crossbar, approaches the result and the opposition's mentality with a singular goal in mind.
"Our objective is to get to the finals," said Reis. "It's not going to go our way all the time."
Kyle McCarthy is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.