FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Last week’s loss to D.C. may have doomed them to another early offseason, but don’t tell the Revolution it’s time to start packing it in.
Yes, the postseason incentive is gone. Yet, that won’t stop the team from fighting for respect in their last five games -- starting Saturday against the Red Bulls, who will be without star striker Thierry Henry due to suspension.
New York comes into the clash after a 1-0 blanking at home against Sporting K.C., and will likely attempt to take out their frustrations against the Revolution.
“We know they’re a strong team,” Revolution midfielder Ryan Guy said after training on Wednesday. “We know they can score goals and they’re stingy in letting in goals. I think we just have to use our home field advantage.”
The Revolution have certainly used the friendly confines of Gillette Stadium to their advantage against the Red Bulls. Going back to 2002, New England has run an 11-0-4 home mark versus their I-95 rivals.
But head coach Jay Heaps knows that the past is just that: the past. And since the past often has very little bearing on the future, Heaps is prepared for a tough battle on Saturday.
“They’ve been playing extremely well,” Heaps said. “They do a lot of good things offensively and they limit anything going the other way with some good positional play. So we just have to find the right times to defend.”
In addition to defense, the Revolution can’t be afraid to attack. Although New York’s bread and butter is holding the ball, the hosts have to find a way to take it away from them.
“It’s going to be important for us to do a lot of the dictating,” Heaps said. “We want to push teams back and we want to play good, quick soccer.”
Taking it to their opponent has been a talking point all season. So has creating chances. But neither idea pointed to overwhelming success, and Heaps is quick to cite the reason why.
“The one thing that we’ve lacked all year, and that we continue to try and find, is that killer instinct, to put a team away, when we have control of the match,” Heaps said. “We’ve played some pretty good stuff, but in the end, it’s just not good enough.”
They’ll look to reverse their fortunes on Saturday. And to do so, they’ll have to be methodical. Every time the Red Bulls lose the ball, the Revolution are going to have to pounce -- and convert.
“Counters are going to be important,” Revolution center back Stephen McCarthy said. “And the chances we do get, we’re going to have to put them away.”
Therein lies the difficulty. While the Revolution have collected a cache of chances in recent weeks, the ball simply isn’t falling into the back of the net often enough. In light of that, the Revolution can’t rest their fortunes on chances alone. They must convert them at every opportunity, especially in a game that may not promise many for them.
Sure, the postseason may no longer be on the agenda. But a win against the playoff-bound Red Bulls would signal that the Revolution aren’t content with simply playing out the string.
“It’s showing the pride that we still have,” McCarthy said. “This game is going to be big just like the rest of them have been for that reason alone.”