SANTA CLARA, Calif. — New England coach Jay Heaps spent much of preseason preaching the need for a possession-oriented approach fueled by accurate and quick short passes.
In his first game in charge, Heaps watched his players deviate from the plan in the first half as they succumbed a 1-0 defeat at San Jose.
The overall performance prompted Heaps to say he was “a little disappointed” with his side's performance on the whole, particularly in the first half after Chris Wondolowski's 15th-minute opener.
Full Highlights: SJ 1, NE 0
“When we drew it up, we didn't want it to be direct tonight,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “That was their game plan, to come out and play [it directly]. When we went long – which is fine, I don't mind when we go long so long as we get the second ball and the third ball – we couldn't find the ball. After the ball went long, we couldn't settle in and find our midfield.”
The streamlined distribution out of the back left the Revolution midfield without much of an opportunity to influence the match as that first half progressed.
Heaps and the technical staff reinforced the need to keep the ball on the ground at halftime and introduced Ryan Guy and Lee Nguyen to help matters during the second half. Those changes – and the need to push forward for a winner – improved the Revs a bit after the break.
“I think the second half was a little bit better than the first,” Revolution midfielder Benny Feilhaber said. “We created a couple more chances and maybe tried to play a little bit more. That tends to happen when you're down. I don't know how much you can take that into account, but, at the same time, it's not going to change overnight. There are things we need to work on and there are still bits we're learning to improve upon from last year. I think we'll do better next game. That's where we're at right now.”
As the Revs look forward to next weekend's trip to Sporting Kansas City, they plan to take those positive moments with them as they return to the training field this week.
“I think we just got better as the game went on,” Revolution defender Stephen McCarthy said. “We had some chances there at the end that we couldn't put away. They didn't have too many in the second half. I think we realized we need to have a better start and then we can be a really good team.”