FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The painful lessons that the New England Revolution learned in Columbus two weeks ago were not lost in the buildup to Wednesday's 2-0 victory over the high-flying Crew.
After all, they were difficult to ignore. Jairo Arrieta and Federico Higuaín benefited from too much time to operate and too much space to exploit as they scored all four goals in the Crew's comeback 4-3 win on Aug. 25.
The in-form duo did not receive nearly that sort of latitude in the third and final meeting between the sides this season.
“We just wanted to chomp down on that,” Revolution defender Darrius Barnes told MLSsoccer.com after the game. “We knew they were one of the hottest teams in the league coming into this game. We wanted to contain Arrieta and Higuaín. I think we were able to do that.”
All of the success stemmed from an increased commitment to applying immediate pressure on the ball. Instead of sitting off and waiting for the opposing team to play, the Revs closed down quickly and prevented the Crew from finding Higuaín and Eddie Gaven on a regular basis and operating comfortably in possession.
HIGHLIGHTS: NE 2, CLB 0
“I think every time when we stepped up a little bit, every player was right next to the guy from Columbus,” Revolution defender Flo Lechner said. “We gave them no space. We gave them no time to play. Everybody was very aggressive and gave all they had.”
Those measures piled more pressure on a fatigued Crew side and stopped the visitors from finding the type of cadence required to break through a revamped Revolution rearguard. Columbus may have entered this fixture with a six-match unbeaten run in tow, but the Crew offered little to show why they had enjoyed sustained success on this night.
“Columbus is a rhythm team and we never really let them get into a rhythm,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. “That was important. Arrieta and Higuaín couldn't get the ball. That was our focus. If they did get the ball, we wanted a guy on them quickly. You could see every time Higuaín got the ball, we were on him. Then he started drifting wide and we knew to take him there. So we did a good job across the back line. I've preached it the whole time: it starts with the forwards and how they play defensively. They really worked hard. That sets the tone for the rest of the group.”
From back to front, the Revs enacted that game plan and watched as the Crew struggled to cope with it. Turning up the pressure led to two goals and permitted the Revs to relieve some of their own stress as their 10-game winless streak finally came to a close.
“All of us were happy because I think we worked hard the past couple of weeks,” Lechner said. “Every time when we take a step forward, we try to get to the next step, get the victory and get the three points. We started last Saturday when we got the tie and kept we the zero. Now we've got the three points at home.”