CHESTER, Pa. – New England suffered through yet another instance of a frustrating trend in front of goal in Sunday night's 2-1 defeat at Philadelphia.
In the past four games (three losses and a draw), the Revs have generated enough opportunities to convert two or three times on each occasion. A confluence of circumstances and factors – from Jimmy Nielsen's dramatic save on Ryan Guy's header in Kansas City to a series of near misses against the Union – have instead limited them to just two goals during that stretch.
“In the final third, we couldn't put things away,” Revolution midfielder Kelyn Rowe told MLSsoccer.com after the defeat to the Union. “It was a touch here, a touch there, just a little bit wide or the final ball wasn't there. They ended up getting two goals in the second half. It's unfortunate.”
The statistics suggest the Revs are creating decent buildup play to carve out shooting chances, only to then waste those efforts with a dearth of precision at the crucial moment. Barely more than a quarter of the shots directed toward goal have tested the opposing goalkeeper (15 shots on goal on 56 shots) in the past four matches. That mark falls well short of their season average of 44 percent (122 shots on goal on 277 shots) and shows how out-of-character this wayward spell is for a side that usually places its shots more accurately.
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Revolution coach Jay Heaps said he wants to see his players concentrate a bit more to ensure the pattern does not continue.
“You can go back and look [about how the penalty kick in Philadelphia altered the game],” Heaps said. “You tell me how many chances we had. One on one, breakaways, slide tackles [by Union defender Carlos Valdés]. I thought we did a great job countering. I think, on the critical plays, we have to be a little more tuned into what we're doing.”
All of those opportunities mean little if they do not end up in the back of the net and lead to points. While the Revs would certainly benefit from the presence of Honduran Olympic goalscorer Jerry Bengtson – currently starring for Honduras at the Olympics – his absence does not eliminate the need to address the problem straight away.
Heaps said he and his charges will evaluate this issue and several others this week as they hope to snap their four-game drought with a victory over Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“I think we have to take a long, hard look at ourselves,” Heaps said. “At the same time, we have to look at the negatives, adjust, look at the positives and move forward.”
Kyle McCarthy covers the New England Revolution for MLSsoccer.com.