PORTLAND, Ore. – New England constructed the foundation for its recent four-match unbeaten run by scoring inside the first 15 minutes and sustaining the momentum from that early goal through much of the contest.
The template yielded a victory only once in four tries, but it did give the Revs a blueprint to follow as they attempted to obtain a result against Portland at JELD-WEN Field on Friday.
Instead of replicating their recent approach, though, the Revs saw the Timbers use their own methods against them to cruise to a 3-0 victory in front of the Timbers Army.
WATCH: Full Match Highlights
From the moment Diego Chara took a couple of neat touches in the penalty area and poked home the opener after nine minutes, New England struggled to cope with the demands of playing from behind.
“It takes the air out of everybody when we give away a goal like that, especially with it being so weak,” Revolution defender Darrius Barnes told MLSsoccer.com after the match.
New England sputtered as it tried to find a foothold in the game, failing to retain enough possession through midfield and buckling defensively under the movement and the pace offered by the home side.
Instead of pushing out to try to obtain an equalizer, the Revs sunk into their own half as the Timbers used their own momentum to turn the screws and grab a second goal through Kenny Cooper after 32 minutes.
“[It is] especially [difficult to recover after] what has been happening the last couple of weeks, where we've been going up so early,” Revolution midfielder and second-half substitute Ryan Guy said. “It's a situation we weren't used to being in.
“I don't think we panicked at all. That wasn't the case, but I think we maybe waited a little bit too long to counterattack ourselves and really try to change the momentum of the game.”
That momentum not only came from the Timbers themselves, but from the 20,000 screaming fans in the stands.
“The crowd is absolutely their 12th man,” Guy said. “It's a difficult barricade to get across, especially when you go down early.”
Revolution coach Steve Nicol lamented his side's inability to push out from inside its own half and start to play more positively when it did find the ball. He felt his side finally moved a bit further forward as the match approached halftime, but he admitted the game was gone by that point.
“It was too late,” Nicol said. “We were 2-nil down. I think it was 40 minutes before we had a decent line. You can't play away from home, give teams two goals at the start and then have to try and chase the game.
“Listen, the third goal's a carbon copy. We didn't stop the cross and we didn't challenge properly. It's basic stuff that we just did poorly.”
Darlington Nagbe's second-half header may have placed the match beyond doubt, but the disheartening opening period handed the Revs a deficit that they could not overcome. The defeat here places even more emphasis on the need for a bright start and a positive result in next Sunday's visit to Chicago, according to Barnes.
“This is our season,” Barnes said. “Our season is on the line, pretty much. We know we have to pretty much win out. Every game means something for us right now. We have to definitely go out and take the next one. We have to use whatever means necessary to get that win. Chicago's going to be a difficult place to go, but they're right there, neck and neck with us. Pretty much, the winner of that game is going to have a chance to go on and make a push for the playoffs.”