CHESTER, Pa. – The second half game plan emerged shortly after the New England coaches and players hit the locker room at in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Philadelphia.
Philadelphia midfielder Sebastien Le Toux had smacked the Revolution with a glorious sucker punch after 25 minutes, curling home a shot sweetly inside the far post to stake the Union to a lead.
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The visitors didn't believe the scoreline reflected their efforts – tidy combination work in the attacking third and resolute play at the back – in the opening stanza, and conjured up a simple formula to restore parity.
Start the second half with urgency and finish with a result.
“That's the thing we came in here and talked about at halftime: jump on them early,” Revs defender Darrius Barnes said. “It felt like we could go up another two gears. We thought they probably played their best in the first half, so we wanted to come in and hop on them from the very beginning to put them on their heels. I thought we were on the front foot for most of the second half.”
A hefty dose of neat combination play and pressure failed to yield the intended dividends from the run of play, but the Revs still emerged with a point after Marko Perovic benefited a kind bounce off the PPL Park surface in the 71st minute to snare his fourth goal in his past five matches in all competitions.
Perovic admitted he wasn't sure whether he wanted to fire on frame from approximately 35 yards, but he said he felt like it was worth the risk.
“It's difficult for the goalkeeper,” Perovic said. “The Jabulani ball, it's difficult.”
New England also made it difficult on the home side by pressing forward and falling into good spaces defensively. While the final touch remains difficult to locate as New England awaits the arrival of Roberto Linck and Ilija Stolica to bolster the forward options, the Revs continued their stingy play at the back despite seeing their shutout streak in all competitions end at 390 minutes.
Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph said his side did what it needed to do in order to secure only its second result away from Gillette Stadium this season (1-6-1 on the road).
“We got what we deserved tonight in terms of getting the point,” Joseph said. “We took the game to them even though we were the away team. We started with high pressure and pushing the tempo trying to block off those spaces.”
While Revolution coach Steve Nicol said he was pleased with how his team performed defensively and passed the ball in the attacking third, he noted that he'd like to see his team apply the finishing touch more ruthlessly and turn its improved combination play into goals.
Despite his desire to see more production in the attacking third, Nicol said he thought his side deserved a point against the Union and laid the groundwork for success in Wednesday's SuperLiga semifinal against Puebla and next Saturday's MLS encounter with D.C. United.
“Philadelphia is in and around us, so it's important that we peg them back in the least,” Nicol said. “It was an important game today, as is next Wednesday and next Saturday. It's a big week for us.”