FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It was a lesson that could only be learned one way: the hard way.
In a July 18 contest against the Impact at Stade Saputo, a careless and lax Revolution XI were taken to task by the plucky expansion side, who used the 2-1 win to leapfrog the guests in the conference standings.
The lesson: Don't fall victim to underestimating an opponent whose point total is lower than yours -- especially on the road.
With a trip to PPL Park to face the Union on tap for Sunday, you can bet the Revolution won't be lacking in the respect department against their eighth-place hosts.
"I don't really see Philly as a being a team (near) the bottom of the standings," Revolution center back AJ Soares said after Wednesday's training. "We're definitely not taking them lightly. They've gotten some really good results."
Since taking over for Peter Nowak as head coach on June 16, interim Union head coach John Hackworth has turned the struggling club into a team on the rise. And the results don't lie.
By winning four of their past six -- including a 4-0 stunner over Sporting K.C. on June 23 -- the Union have turned the tide, something that hasn't gone unnoticed by Revolution head coach Jay Heaps.
"Philadelphia has shown that they've gotten some really good results," Heaps said after training Wednesday. "They were going for four in a row (prior to the 2-0 loss to New York on July 21).They're a tough team to play. We'll have our hands full."
Although credit is due to Hackworth for the team's resurgence, the Union wouldn't be mounting a midseason run without the help of their defense.
Thanks to the improved play of their backline -- anchored by Carlos Valdes and strengthened with the promising performances of Gabriel Farfan and Amobi Okugo -- the Union have conceded only four goals in their past six matches.
With that in mind, Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph believes the key to breaking Philadelphia's back four can be summed up in one word: movement.
"It's going to start with us," Joseph said after training Wednesday. "If we move the ball, we'll create chances (by) getting it to Lee [Nguyen], Benny [Feilhaber] and Saer [Sene] and these guys who are offensive threats. We have to get them touches in dangerous situations. If we can do that, then it's going to lead to a goal."
But the attack won't be the only area where the Revolution will have to be sharp. While the Union aren't exactly lighting up the scoreboard this season (20 goals in 18 games), Joseph knows that he and his teammates have to stay defensively sound for 90 minutes.
"Defensively, we just have to be like we were in K.C.," Joseph said. "(By) digging in deep, working hard together, (keeping) our shape and staying together."
In other words, the Revolution have to adopt the exact opposite attitude they brought with them to Montreal last week. Three points is never guaranteed -- something Soares and the rest of the Revolution are now very well aware of.
"You can't take any team lightly," Soares said. "Everyone has to defend, everyone has to attack and that's just soccer. You can't play with a few guys defending and a few guys attacking. It just doesn't work."