From the opening whistle in their 3-1 victory over the LA Galaxy on Saturday night, the New England Revolution showed the type of initiative they’d lacked for the past several years. It’s the type required to secure a surprising result in one of the league’s most inhospitable away venues: The Home Depot Center.
The visitors did not cower from the reigning MLS Cup and Supporters' Shield holders. They instead assumed control of the proceedings and scored twice inside the first 13 minutes through Kelyn Rowe and Chris Tierney, setting themselves on the path to victory.
Revolution coach Jay Heaps said it was exactly what he’d asked for.
“[We wanted to meet] pressure with pressure,” Heaps told NBC Sports Network after the game. “We knew the Galaxy played well at home and we wanted to meet that pressure, but we thought that if we could keep possession of the ball, we could get them off of their game.”
The tactics worked in large part because the Revs pestered the Galaxy into conceding possession and didn’t squander it themselves. New England passed the ball at a considerably higher standard than they have in the year’s first three matches, connecting on 75.9 percent for the evening. Defensive midfielder Clyde Simms' 96 percent completion rate – he went 44 for 46 – was particularly eye-popping.
Overall, it allowed the Revs to build long sequences, often leading to chances, even though the Galaxy emerged with the overall edge in possession.
“When you're able keep possession on them, they don't like it,” Heaps said. “That was our game plan: keep the ball and make 10 or 15 passes when we could. That's what we were able to do and you could see them running a little bit.”
All of that work on and off the ball – plus the killer third goal by Saër Sène in the 65th minute – ultimately allowed the Revs to secure their first win in the Pacific time zone since a 1-0 victory over Seattle on Aug. 20, 2009.
After three uneven performances to start the season, Heaps said he believes this showing provides a glimpse of what his team can do when it hits top form.
“We're still starting to gel, but, on nights like tonight when they all get together, you can see some of the good stuff that we can do,” Heaps said.
HIGHLIGHTS: LA vs NE