SEATTLE – New England focused this week on the need to come out and match Seattle's intensity from the opening whistle.
It didn't happen.
“We did just didn't come out the way we wanted to,” Revolution defender Kevin Alston told MLSsoccer.com after his side's 3-0 defeat at Qwest Field on Saturday night. “They clearly came out with more intensity and more pressure. We didn't match it and it killed us in the beginning. They scored three easy, quick goals on us and we were chasing the whole game.”
The opening stages played out exactly in the manner New England hoped to avoid. Seattle entered the game mired in a nasty scoring slump --two goals in their previous six matches-- and a two-game home losing streak.
Instead of troubling the home side by prolonging those scoring concerns, the Revs conceded after just five minutes, when Leo Gonzalez collected a loose touch from Steve Zakuani and thumped home a stunning first-time volley.
González's early goal emboldened Sounders FC and placed New England in the difficult spot of having to respond immediately in the face of a raucous crowd. The visitors simply couldn't muster one.
“It's definitely difficult to play one[goal] down, especially in a place like this. But we should definitely have pulled ourselves up, [created] some chances, and started battling hard,” midfielder Shalrie Joseph said. “We didn't do that. Instead, we put our tails between our legs and ran away.”
Seattle pounced twice more before the break to all but decide the match. Zakuani lashed home a volley off the underside of the crossbar after Fredy Montero's quick throw-in to Brad Evans caught the Revolution defense napping. Then, Montero himself grabbed a goal of his own three minutes before halftime by wriggling free on the edge of the penalty area and firing home.
New England's first half left head coach Steve Nicol fuming at his side’s effort, particularly on the defensive end.
“The first two goals are wonderstrikes, but, at the same time, we didn't defend well,” Nicol said. “We contributed to our own downfall.”
The Seattle scoring barrage slowed down in the second stanza, though it wasn't through a lack of effort. The Sounders directed a club-record 19 shots toward goal on the night, including eight in the second half.
While New England weathered the second half storm better than they did the first, the Revs rarely pushed forward to trouble Seattle defensively. New England could only point to Kenny Mansally's spurned first-half header as a viable chance to score on a night when it mustered just one shot on frame.
“Maybe it was a little bit better effort, but I still think they did better than us in the second half,” Alston said. “Although they didn't put any away, it just shows us a little bit more of what we need to do from the start.”
The loss send the Revs tumbling into the World Cup break, wondering how to address the problems presented by the disheartening performance. The team will play Brazilian powerhouse Cruzeiro in a friendly next Sunday before taking two weeks off prior to a June 27 home match against Chicago.
Alston said New England will use the interlude to nurse a few key injuries and figure out how to mount a playoff push in the second half of the season.
“We will rest up, get back into practice and work on the things we need to fix,” Alston said.