FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- After a disappointing start to the campaign, New England wanted to alter their course as they kicked off the second portion of their campaign. They hoped to brush aside the past and focus on constructing the performances necessary to climb back into the playoff race.
The World Cup break gave the Revs the chance to address some of the lingering issues—untimely errors at the back and wasteful finishing in front of goal—from the opening stages of the season and eliminate them. But instead of eradicating those frustrating faults, New England once again fell into the same old habits in Sunday night's 1-0 defeat to Chicago at Gillette Stadium.
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“If a team passed the ball around us and beat us 8-0, I don't think it would feel as bad as it does when you shoot yourself in the foot consistently from game to game,” Revolution midfielder Pat Phelan told MLSsoccer.com after the game. “It's really frustrating.”
The lone goal of the game only increased the internal consternation. While Chicago’s Marco Pappa lashed home a fine strike from 30 yards out after a half-hour, he benefited from a series of defensive breakdowns—poor communication, slipshod marking and tardy covering work—to carve out the necessary space to hand the Fire the only goal they would need to seal the points
“The goal was a classic case of what some of our problems are at the moment,” Revolution coach Steve Nicol said. “That goal is so avoidable, it’s frightening. All it takes is a bit of communication to pass a man on, and that the guy doesn’t get three days to line it up and bury it. It’s a great finish, Matt’s (Reis, Revolution goalkeeper) got no chance, but it’s so avoidable with someone opening their trap. We do ourselves in again.”
Climbing out of the self-inflicted deficit proved a task too large on another night filled with profligate finishing. Sufficient chances arrived over the course of the 90 minutes, but the final touch once again proved wanting.
“We keep saying the same things every week,” Nicol said. “The effort, endeavor, the spirit—you can’t fault that, but in the final third, we just don’t have the quality required. Tonight, it stares you in the face.”
With a daunting trip to Rio Tinto Stadium on tap for Friday night, New England won't have much time to rectify those errors and submit the required performance to obtain a result. Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph said his side still has time to fix their problems and make a playoff push, but noted that he and his teammates would have to show more desire in order to transform their work in practice into the desired end product on the field.
“It comes down to how much we want it right now,” Joseph said. “It seems like, from my leadership point of view and from the coaching staff, we're not doing the right stuff to make it count on the field. We work hard in practice all week to get here and then it just feels really demoralizing and really bad that we can't put it together to win games when they come.”
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