FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Playing the defending champions is never an easy task, but that’s the challenge the New England Revolution (4-4-4, 16 points) face this weekend with the Los Angeles Galaxy (6-4-2, 20 points) in town for a nationally-televised match.
Even though the back-to-back MLS champions (2011 and 2012) enter Sunday’s game only one point clear of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, Revolution defender Chris Tierney is well aware of the threats the Galaxy pose every week.
“They have players who are dangerous and have a lot of pace,” Tierney said after Saturday’s training session. “You look at a lot of the film on them, and it can only take 10 seconds for them to hit you 80 yards and score on the counterattack.”
Last week, the Galaxy showed off their attacking prowess in a 4-0 thumping over the Sounders last Sunday at The Home Depot Center. All four goals were scored before halftime in a game that served to remind the rest of the league that the defending champions could indeed flip the switch at a moment’s notice.
One Revolution player who knows first-hand how quickly the Galaxy can punish an opponent is striker Chad Barrett, who spent portions of the last two seasons in Los Angeles with the repeat league winners.
Although some may see the smooth runs and passes put together by Landon Donovan, the ball-winning abilities of Omar Gonzalez or the savvy scoring touch of Robbie Keane and believe the Galaxy succeed on talent alone, Barrett counters that notion with a concept that few people give Bruce Arena’s club credit for.
“They just work hard for each other,” Barrett said after Saturday’s training session. “It’s a blue-collar (type) of team. They’re just going to come in here and run their (hearts) out.”
And that’s precisely what the Galaxy will have to do especially well against the Revolution, as Gonzalez (United States) and Keane (Republic of Ireland) are both away on international duty for their respective countries.
But those absences won’t affect the way the Revolution approach Sunday’s contest. As Barrett tells it, the key to keeping pace with the champions, with or without two of their best players, is to treat them like any other opponent.
“You kind of have to take the game to them,” Barrett said. “You have to show them respect, but you can’t (shy) away from them. You have to match their intensity and effort, which I know we’re capable of doing.”
New England, which is unbeaten in its last three (2-0-1), has done well to exhibit its intensity and effort in recent weeks, which makes this weekend “a good time to play the Galaxy,” according to Barrett.
However, Tierney isn’t about to be tricked into thinking that his club has the upper hand this week. The game may be at home, and the Galaxy may not be at full strength, but the veteran defender says that he and his teammates are looking at Sunday’s clash no differently than they have since the start of the season.
“We’re still a team that’s trying to prove ourselves,” Tierney said. “We’re not satisfied with the wins that we’ve had so far, so it’s business as usual.”