New England Revolution coach Jay Heaps could have trotted out any number of excuses — a questionable red card to substitute Fernando Cardenas after 81 minutes, a series of spectacular saves from Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando, a set of tired legs after a third game in eight days among them — after Saturday's 2-1 defeat at RSL.
Instead of harping on how the match could have or should have unfolded, the Revs boss focused on what his side needs to do better in order to extract a point from these sorts of matches in the future.
WATCH: Full Match Highlights
“I thought we came in with the right attitude,” Heaps said after the match. “We did a lot of the right things, but, unfortunately, we gave up another game, a game where we did have it and we fought well. We have to be a little bit better in finishing games and not giving up goals on set pieces.”
The inability to track Alvaro Saborio as he meandered through the penalty area on set pieces turned the match. Saborio's double canceled out Blake Brettschneider's stellar 22nd-minute strike and forced the Revs to chase the game in the second half.
Those efforts received an unexpected boost when Will Johnson procured a hotly contested red card from referee David Gantar after 59 minutes. Heaps asked his side to push through its fatigue to secure a result with their numerical advantage. Despite a series of tactical changes designed to press the initiative, the Revs simply couldn't find a way through the defiant RSL rearguard.
“We wanted to win,” Heaps said. “We had the chances. We had a couple of chances in front. We sensed that we could at least get an equalizer. Give credit where credit is due: Nick Rimando had a nice game, made some good saves and kept their guys where they are. They're a veteran team and they have that cohesiveness. When the going gets tough, they know they can lean on each other.”
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Heaps and the Revs will continue to cultivate their own developing qualities in those particular departments when they return to Foxborough, Mass., this week and set their sights on a home date with Vancouver on May 12.
“It's important that we get the right rest and get the right mental attitude getting back into it,” Heaps said.