CARSON, Calif. – New England coach Steve Nicol didn't mince words as he explained the primary reason behind the Revolution's disappointing 3-0 defeat at Chivas USA on Saturday night.
On this particular night, each Revolution player lost the individual battle against his counterpart.
“When you play football, it's 11-v-11,” Nicol told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “You can talk about systems and tactics and all kinds of stuff, but if you have one team that is all around the field second best to the guy they are playing against, then you're going to lose.
“That pretty much summed up our night tonight. Other than Bobby [Shuttleworth] in goal, you look around our team and we were second best to them for the 90 minutes. You're going to lose when you do that.”
WATCH: FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
It didn't always look like the Revs would fall so far behind the counterparts. New England engineered a decent start to the match and produced a couple of chances in the opening period, but Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy pushed Zack Schilawski's header over the bar after eight minutes and stopped Kenny Mansally's effort after 19 minutes.
The match changed irreparably when the Revs sloppily conceded three minutes later. Nick LaBrocca finished off a quick buildup off of a throw-in by knifing between Revolution center backs Franco Coria and A.J. Soares to nod home the opener at the near post.
Chivas USA asserted control over the contest after the opening goal and consolidated their advantage on the stroke of halftime. Alejandro Moreno did well to corral a diagonal ball and serve a tempting cross into the box for Marcos Mondaini to acrobatically turn home the killer second right before the halftime interval.
By allowing Chivas USA to create a pair of goals a bit too easily in the opening half, the Revolution made life far too difficult heading into the second stanza.
“That's the biggest thing for me,” Schilawski said. “I thought we looked decent. I thought we had our fair share of the ball. Their goals – to be fair to them – they were nice goals, but I feel like we gave them away kind of cheaply as far as open guys in the box and they were able to finish. They scored two decent goals, but, from our perspective, we want to make it a little bit tougher to score, for sure.”
The early mistakes also left the Revs with a second-half mountain to climb. Although New England attempted to push forward at points, they struggled to cobble together extended spells in possession or create substantive chances in the attacking third.
Another mistake at the back killed off the match after 57 minutes. A bouncing ball found its way to Shalrie Joseph inside the penalty area. He decided to play the ball back to Didier Domi inside the goal area. Domi took a heavy first touch and permitted Moreno to pick the ball off his foot and slot home the third goal.
Joseph deemed the sequence a “miscommunication” between him and Domi and noted that his side must find some way to clean up its defensive work if it wants to pick up results.
“We're going work together and start growing together, but we have to cut out those mistakes,” Joseph said. “They're killing us. Tonight, it comes on the first goal, the second goal and even the third goal. It's just a mistake and a lack of focus on our part.”
New England will have to somehow address and eradicate those concerns this week in training before defending MLS Cup champions Colorado visit Gillette Stadium on May 7. The basis for the necessary improvement starts with outworking the other side and winning those individual tussles, according to Shuttleworth.
“I think we just have to come together as a team,” Shuttleworth said. “Obviously, we need to work harder. I think we got outworked tonight a bit. We have to look ourselves in the mirror and decide whether we want this season to go in a positive way.”