WASHINGTON – The wait for a start finally ended for New England's Zack Schilawski in Wednesday's 1-0 victory at D.C. United, but his restoration to the lineup came with a bit of a twist.
Instead of playing a more central striking role, Schilawski – who hadn't started a match since a 3-0 defeat at Chivas USA on April 30 – assumed the left wing role in the Revolution's 4-3-3 setup. The shift meant Schilawski had to assume a rather novel set of defensive responsibilities to complement his work in the attacking third.
“I'm just happy to be out there,” Schilawski told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “I thought I did well with it. When we have the ball, I think it's more of the same. As a player, I'm an attacking player. It's a little bit more responsibility defensively, being in the right spots and starting positions. Those little things, I had to get used to it a little bit. It was hot, so I had to get used to a different kind of running.”
The steamy conditions at RFK Stadium encouraged the Revolution to sit in and soak up pressure against a United side that looked particularly lively in the first half. Schilawski said he relied on left back Chris Tierney to make sure he picked up the right positions defensively.
“We went over it pretty heavily right before the game and I had Chris right behind me,” Schilawski said. “He's constantly shouting at me and letting me know what I should be doing. I think we were able to figure it out. I don't think they were able to get down our side too much.”
Tierney said that the willing Schilawski heeded his directions and slid into the right defensive areas for most of the night.
“It's just communication,” Tierney said. “Zack works his tail off and he's a smart kid. He's a soccer player. He was in great spots.”
Although Schilawski performed his defensive job admirably against United, he still remains a forward by trade. Revolution boss Steve Nicol appreciated Schilawski's industry against United, but noted that he would like to see his side make better use of the second-year forward's attacking prowess in subsequent matches.
“I think he did a good job of containing them as much as anything else,” Nicol said. “We'd like to get more out of him, but he's a forward, so when he does get it and he's going toward goal, teams had better take notice.”
Defense shines against DC
Schilawski spent much of the night focusing on his defensive duties because United caused the Revs a few defensive headaches with the constant interchanging between its front five.
“They definitely had a lot of movement,” Revolution defender Darrius Barnes said. “They have a lot of guys that interchange up top with Charlie [Davies], [Chris] Pontius, De Ro [United forward Dwayne De Rosario] and then Fred coming in during the second half. It's tough, but you have to keep them in front of you a little bit. I feel like, for the most part, they're looking for that diagonal ball to go over the top to split the center back and the wide backs. We did a good job – and even a better job in the second half – of cutting that out.”
Nicol said his side managed to cope with United's threat – admittedly, one that decreased as the night progressed as all of that running took its toll on the steamy night – by communicating with each other, maintaining a resolute defensive shape and preventing United from identifying and slicing through gaps in the attacking third.
“We picked up good positions,” Nicol said. “[Josh] Wolff and De Rosario are getting long in the tooth now, but they're smart. If we let them get balls into those seams, they can hurt us. We did a good job of stopping them, in the second half, particularly.”
Phelan applauds his luck
Davies's penalty miss a minute before halftime breathed new life into the Revs after Pat Phelan's handball inside the area appeared to undo their tiring defensive work – and Matt Reis' stellar performance between the sticks – right before the interval.
While Phelan said he couldn't quibble too much with the penalty call, he noted that he couldn't have done a whole lot to avoid handling in that situation.
“I mean, if I was on the other side of it, I'd probably be calling for a penalty too,” Phelan said. “The ball went over my head and I jumped and turned at the same time. There's no way I could have gotten my hand out of the way. It's kind of unnatural to jump without your arms in the air. It's unfortunate, but thankfully, we got some luck, which was a first.”
Cochrane out, Feilhaber in
Revolution defender Ryan Cochrane returned to Boston on Thursday afternoon to determine the cause of the lingering pain in his left foot and will miss Saturday's trip to Colorado. Cochrane played just 22 minutes against United before limping off due to the injury.
Although Cochrane will miss out against the Rapids, the Revs will welcome Benny Feilhaber back to the squad. Feilhaber will link up with his teammates in Colorado after missing the first leg of the two-game road trip through suspension.