New England Revolution head coach Jay Heaps didn’t have much to say following his team’s 1-0 loss to New York at Red Bull Arena on Saturday.
That’s because he was still bewildered as to why his troops only decided to start playing 25 minutes in.
“It was something,” he said, when asked if perhaps the Revs’ bye week hurt them. “You can [call it] whatever you want ... it was bad. It was worse than rust to start.”
HIGHLIGHTS: New York 1, New England 0
From the opening whistle, the hosts cared little about the fragile state of their makeshift backline or about the faces they were missing. They took it right to the visiting Revolution and bossed possession, something Heaps has prided in his own team.
And just seven minutes in, New England were already starting at a deficit. Thierry Henry took full advantage of a mismatch with Stephen McCarthy and sent a cheeky chip over an unprepared Matt Reis for a 1-0 lead that knocked the Revs back on their toes.
It took an unfortunate twist for New England to get back in it, when Henry was forced out of the game a quarter-hour later with a hamstring injury.
“I think maybe the goal might have been what determined how much we were keeping the ball because I think it work everyone up,” McCarthy told reporters. “It was early and we said, ‘We can’t keep giving the ball away.’ I don’t know if it was the goal or Henry leaving or what, but we can’t start like that and we need to wake up earlier.”
Indeed, the Revs started playing better from that point on and returned – to a degree – to the careful possession game they’ve employed this season. Heaps brought Benny Feilhaber off the bench at halftime for more of a momentum swing, and it worked. New England controlled nearly 64 percent of the possession after the break.
Heaps said he was encouraged by his team’s play in the second half – and felt they were perhaps denied an equalizer when official Jair Marrufo declined to whistle a penalty when Brandon Barklage dragged Saer Sene down in the box near the hour mark.
But starting the way they did was unacceptable.
“You can only replicate starting a match playing 11 on 11 so much,” he said. “Unfortunately, the way we started wasn’t good enough in this league, and they punished us.”