FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It did not take much in the way of tactical foresight to predict how Toronto FC planned to approach its 1-0 victory at New England on Sunday night.
TFC wanted to keep matters tight at the back, set out its compact defensive stall when the Revs operated in possession and wait for a chance to pounce on the counter.
And the Revs played right into their hands.
TFC midfielder Matias Laba scored a goal of considerable quality after just two minutes and sent the Revs into the exact scenario they wanted to avoid prior to the match.
“The goal just killed us, giving away an early goal,” Revolution midfielder Chris Tierney told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “We've talked about our starts and how we need to improve them. Same thing tonight: we just didn't start well. I don't know what the issue is, but it's such a poor goal for us to concede. We knew they were going to try to nick one on the counter and then sit in. That's exactly what they did, that's their game plan to a tee.”
New England produced its first victory from a losing position in the 2-1 triumph at D.C. United last Saturday, but it failed to muster a similar reply on this occasion. The home side conjured plenty of opportunities in the first half (Richard Eckersley and Ashtone Morgan produced blocks on the goal line) and controlled possession (the Revs enjoyed 64 percent of the ball on the night, per OPTA statistics) without producing the extra bit of quality Laba deployed for the winner.
“We just didn’t get that slice of luck to get us back into the game,” Tierney said. “I think if we score in the first half and it gets back to 1-1, then we’re in decent shape again. Chasing the game is not a position you want to be in, especially against a team that you know is going to fight as hard as Toronto does.”
It is exactly the sort of scenario the Revs must avoid in the future to ensure no further missteps in their quest to secure a first postseason berth since 2009.
“It hurts and so we have to rally and come back and move on,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps told reporters. “That’s one thing I think we have is a short-term memory. We have to just get on to the next play.”