WASHINGTON — A set-piece problem identified long ago and highlighted repeatedly since that point still continues to plague the New England Revolution.
Two dead-ball goals conceded by the Revs in Saturday night's 3-2 defeat at D.C. United took their tally in that undesirable stat to seven on the season. Those two mistakes provided an ample source of frustration on a night when the Revs fell behind, responded with two goals after the break and ultimately succumbed to a Maicon Santos winner after 61 minutes.
“It was a 0-2 start that we shouldn't have even put ourselves in,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “Unfortunately, we were a little loose on a foul that caused the first set piece, but it was a great header from [Brandon] McDonald.
"The second one to me is unforgivable, quite frankly. It was a textbook [example] of what you don't want to give up: [a goal less than] five minutes before half. It wasn't even on a direct free kick. It bounced and kicked around in the box. That, to me, was a play we need to be better on.”
WATCH: Full Match Highlights
Not even the set-piece goal engineered during the second half in favor of the Revolution — an A.J. Soares header from a Chris Tierney corner kick to level the score in the 50th minute — and the rousing, if ultimately futile, fightback soothed the wounds inflicted during the opening stanza.
“It's just so disappointing to give up those goals in the first half,” Tierney said. “We've been talking about not conceding on set pieces and they scored two goals right away [off set pieces]. We were on the back foot, but our response was really good in the second half. Unfortunately, it broke down there one more time, and they made us pay for it.”
The Revolution now enter a two-week break in MLS play, but have just three days before they take on USL PRO side Harrisburg City Islanders in the US Open Cup. Heaps said he and his players will go back to the training ground this week to further address their specific ongoing defensive issues: dead ball defending and conceding fouls that give opponents set-piece opportunities in the first place.
“We have to get back to work on Monday,” Heaps said. “We have the Open Cup game on Tuesday. We have to make sure we take care of those things. We're going to work on it. It's not something we're going to stop work on. We did score a set-piece goal tonight, so that was good.”