Going into the locker room at halftime Saturday stuck in a two-goal hole, Revolution head coach Jay Heaps wasn’t overly concerned about Toronto’s surprisingly-effective first-half form.
But Heaps didn’t want to talk about Toronto during the interval. No, this wasn’t about them. This was about the group of guys in front of him.
“It was really more about what we need to do, and not so much who we are playing against," Heaps told the media after the game. "It was about correcting what we did wrong and how do we go out in the second half and be a better team.”
The Revolution took the advice to heart. They looked within themselves. They made mental notes of what needed to be corrected. Then they looked at how they could punish Toronto’s shaky backline.
After holding possession and gradually pushing the issue as the second half progressed, the Revolution found pay dirt in the 71st minute. Benny Feilhaber ripped a shot from distance that Kocic initially stopped, but Blake Brettschneider grabbed the rebound and poked it through.
“Benny hit a great shot and the keeper made a good save,” Brettschneider said. “He just happened to push it to where I thought it might go and I was able to pounce on it.”
At that point, the Revolution knew they had plenty of time to find the equalizer -- and possibly the game-winner. After all, this was the same Toronto team that surrendered a two-goal lead in Houston only days prior. Anything was possible.
In the 80th minute, Saer Sene tested Kocic with a dangerous shot, but saw his effort denied by the keeper. Sene got another crack at Kocic three minutes later, but his shot sailed wildly. Then in the 88th minute, Feilhaber put one off the post. So close. The Revolution were pounding the door, but time was beginning to melt away.
Time wasn’t the only thing that was quickly evaporating at BMO Field. In the waning minutes of its third game in seven days, Toronto’s energy reserve was, for all intents and purposes, tapped dry -- something that didn’t go unnoticed by the guests.
“They died at the end of the game,” Revolution central midfielder Clyde Simms said. “(They had) their hands on their knees, breathing heavy, and if you look at them in their eyes they looked really tired and we took advantage.”
With a tired team in front of them and one final opportunity to level it with seconds remaining, Revolution defender Flo Lechner delivered a dangerous cross into a swarm of players battling inside the area. Amid the scramble, Chris Tierney headed it through. The 94th-minute equalizer.
After the game, Heaps mentioned he admired his squad’s resolve. Even after they’d been denied time after time and it seemed that a draw was out of reach, they never succumbed to frustration. Nor did they allow the clock to creep into their collective psyches.
“We didn’t panic,” Heaps said. “We just kept going on about it and just kind of chipped away.”