FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It was what they talked about avoiding all week, the early goal that changes the dynamic of all they do.
But just three minutes into Saturday night’s match against the Chicago Fire, the New England Revolution once again found themselves trudging down a long, uphill road just to get back into the game.
In each of the team’s eight losses this season – a number that includes their current five-game slide - the Revs have conceded first, and oftentimes early.
On Saturday night, Quincy Amarikwa’s goal in the third minute was as close to demoralizing as anything can get that early into a match.
“Tonight I thought we were going to come out flying and we got punched right in the face in the first two and a half minutes,” Revs head coach Jay Heaps said following the 1-0 loss to the Fire.
The Revs had their chances later in the match – most notably a penalty kick opportunity that was denied by Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson - but they were never quite able to recover from the early slip-up.
“The back line, and the team as a whole, we’ve been giving up some sloppy goals,” said defender Andrew Farrell, who was muscled off the ball by Amarikwa for the game’s only score. “I’ll take the blame for that. At the end of the day, when you give up those chances early on, it puts you on the back foot.”
New England were able to bear down on the defensive end, limiting Chicago’s chances despite losing defensive-mid Andy Dorman to a right knee injury in the 26th minute.
They then switched things up on the attack in the second half, adjusting to a different formation after subbing on Jerry Bengtson, but despite five shots on goal over the final 45 minutes, they ran into the wall put up by Johnson, who stopped seven Revs shots on the night.
“We definitely had more chances [in the second half],” said Heaps. “It was a little bit of a change in the 3-5-2, it helped out our attack, but it would have been nice to put one in there.”
New England are now 1-8-1 this season when giving up the first goal of the match, and as they embark on a two-game road trip next week, they know that things aren’t going to get any easier.
“It’s unfortunate but you’ve got to use up the positives and just keep going,” said Heaps. “You’ve got to dig even deeper now.”