To Revolution head coach Jay Heaps, last weekend’s 5-0 win over the defending champion Galaxy might as well have happened last year. Or last century, for that matter.
Sure, the coaching staff and players savored Sunday’s defining victory in the hours that followed it. And with good reason, of course.
But with D.C. United on tap for Saturday, the celebrations and back slapping that followed the Galaxy win are over. And they better be.
"That game is done,” Heaps told revolutionsoccer.net. “It was three points that we needed to get. We need to get these (three points against D.C.).”
Three points is not only the objective this weekend -- it’s the expectation. After all, D.C. comes into Foxborough with the worst record in the league (1-10-2, 5 points), the worst goal differential (-18) and sports an 11-game winless streak that stretches back to late-winter.
Even so, Heaps doesn’t believe that Saturday’s game will be a walk in the park for his team, which has knocked down its last three opponents in convincing fashion. Despite D.C.’s struggles, Heaps knows how dangerous they can be, and that their week-to-week struggles aren’t indicative of their quality.
“You don't look at the scoreline,” Heaps said in reference to what he’s seen of D.C. on tape. “You look at how they're moving, their movement off the ball, the shots created, the opportunities created (and) the opportunities given up. They're a very good team, and they have excellent players.”
Heaps has witnessed first-hand just how good those players -- players like Dwayne DeRosario, Chris Pontius and Nick DeLeon -- can be. Not only did many of the same players on this year’s roster help D.C. reach the Eastern Conference finals last November, but many of them also played major roles in sweeping the head-to-head regular season series (3-0-0) against the Revolution in 2012. And they did it by putting the ball in the back of the net -- often (seven goals in three games).
In light of that, the area of the field where the Revolution must be at their best is in the defending third. Although D.C. has only strung together six goals in 13 games, Revolution forward Juan Agudelo believes that his club’s best chance at beating them -- or any opponent, for that matter -- begins in the back.
"I think it's unbelievable what our defense has done this year,” Agudelo told revolutionsoccer.net. “They've kept us in the game. I feel like (when) they don’t concede any goals, it gives us a better chance of scoring goals, and that's helped us a lot."
For all that the top-ranked Revolution defense -- which has blanked its last three opponents and is currently riding a 305-minute shutout streak -- has accomplished in recent weeks, Revolution right back Andrew Farrell is quick share the credit across the field.
“It's not just the defense,” Farrell told revolutionsoccer.net, “You know, (it’s) the midfielders and forwards (too). Juan Agudelo is one of the better forward/midfielders who (also) defends, and we have guys who are just going to put in the work.”
And that’s exactly what Heaps is going to demand from his players on Saturday. He knows that a team as desperate as D.C. could be just as dangerous as the Galaxy, and that his club must resist any temptation to take it easy on Saturday.
“The standings don't matter for us, because to be honest with you, at any moment in this league, whether it’s four, five or six games down the road, everything changes,” Heaps said. “So for us, we know it's going to be a tough match all the way around."