FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England coach Steve Nicol and his players wanted to use this high-profile Herbalife World Football Challenge match against Manchester United as a way to generate momentum heading into Sunday's crucial game against Philadelphia (7 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
Although the Revs fell 4-1 to United on the evening, their ability to keep the Premier League champions off the board in the first half provided exactly the type of tangible accomplishment required to build confidence ahead of the Union's visit.
WATCH: Full Match Highlights
“We were happy with the way things went in the first half,” Nicol told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “I thought we were pretty solid in the first half and defended well. We were fitter and sharper than them, so it was important that we kept things tight, and we did.”
Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph said his side must build upon some of their work in possession during the first half. United enjoyed the majority of the play and sat off the ball defensively, but the Revs also managed to carve out one or two chances – Joseph said he should have done better with a chance presented to him by Chris Tierney after 12 minutes – and retain the ball intermittently.
“We can take a lot of positives from what we did with the ball in terms of how we moved it and how we created chances,” Joseph said. “We kept possession in their defensive third and that's something we've been struggling to do – move the ball and get runners off the ball. Tonight, we did that.”
Nicol surely would have liked to extend some of those positive qualities into the second half, but the upcoming domestic demands forced him into six changes.
United took advantage of the substitutions to post four goals in the second half, but Revolution midfielder Benny Feilhaber said those strikes provided a timely reminder that he and his teammates must perform for the entire match against Philadelphia on Sunday.
“It's always good to get anything positive against these guys,” Feilhaber said. “Forty-five minutes is a solid amount of time, but, at the end of the day, you have to get 90 minutes, regardless of whether you're playing Man U or Philadelphia. You have to go 90 minutes to get a result. If we play the way we did in the first half for 90 minutes against Philadelphia, I'm sure we can get something.”