FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Revolution’s disastrous visit to Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah last year was something the group would rather forget. But, try as you might, a 6-0 shellacking is not something that’s easily swept into the dust bin of history.
So the struggling team (3-8-2, 11 points), which has been held scoreless in seven league matches, should be able to summon ample motivation when they travel to Real Salt Lake Friday night. They’ll need it. RSL is currently riding a 6-0-2 unbeaten streak en route to amassing 24 points on the season.
Goalkeeper Matt Reis, who last week played his first league game of the season, making three saves in a 1-0 loss to Chicago, said he hopes his team will play with a bit of vengeance in mind.
“I hope so,’’ he said. “I hope it’s still fresh in people’s minds. You only get to go to these places once [yearly] now and we should have it in the back of our minds that let’s not go there and get embarrassed again and show them it’s not going to be that easy.
“They are a great team and they are a team that really likes to keep the ball and possess the ball, and if we give it away it’s going to be a very long night for us,’’ he said. “They are just going to pass it around us. At that altitude, too, it’s always difficult to play if you are not used to it. I think we are going to try and build off the little bit that we got off Chicago and go from there.’’
Reis, who was not in goal last year when the team dropped that infamous contest, said he felt fine after playing his first game last week following a seven-month layoff due to rotator cuff and knee surgeries.
“Just a little tired,’’ he said. “I think the heat had something to do with it. It was my first 90 minutes in seven months, but here I am. I thought it was alright. I would have at least liked to have gotten some points out of it, but letting the goal in was obviously the turning point in the game. I saw it clear but with these new balls they just dance so much so it is hard just going with one hand because they are dancing all around.”
Coach Steve Nicol, who acknowledged the Revs have several players coming in next week on tryouts, said the team is facing an all-too-familiar dilemma: an inability to score goals.
“Obviously they are the home team and they are going to be coming at us, but we have to start strong and then try and get ourselves forward,’’ he said. “We need to try and make some chances and hopefully try and take them. We haven’t been taking chances. I don’t think it’s a great secret. The chances we make we are not taking them. So we need to start taking them.’’
Last week’s game-winner for Chicago, the contest’s only goal, came as the Revolution seemed to fall asleep momentarily on the field allowing Marco Pappa’s 30-yard bomb.
“When you have a problem converting chances you can’t afford to give up a goal,’’ said Nicol. “It was a great strike. The pace on the ball was fantastic. Pappa shouldn’t have been out of position so easily to have the time to do that. That’s more annoying than anything else. Had we been torn apart by silky soccer playing through us and all that kind of stuff, sometimes you just give the opposition a clap. But when you give up a goal that is totally avoidable, then when you struggle to score on the other side, it makes it difficult.’’
Nicol said that RSL has some qualities that the Revs have to be aware of. “They got some pace and they try to get their fullbacks forward and obviously they’ve got an advantage on where they play. You just have to combat it and try and come out and do your own thing.’’
Reis said he would be happy if the Revolution again find space to play, as in last week’s game. He said he just hopes the team can do more with what they get.
“Chicago really let us play so that was something new for us,’’ he said. “We did create chances but we are having our struggles in front of the goal. When you are not scoring goals it makes things more difficult and when you think about it a lot it makes things even more difficult. The big key for everything is just keeping the ball, possessing the ball and making good decisions when we have it, and if we can do that we definitely have good enough players to win games.’’
The returning goalkeeper, the Revolution’s full-time starter since the 2004 season, mentioned that he and the team are going to have to make a quick readjustment to his return in goal.
“Yeah, there is always going to be [a readjustment period] but at this time we can’t really give ourselves five games to get it right,’’ he said. “But, it was like Stevie said, it was something that could have been and should have been avoided. A guy cutting into the middle to get that open and get his head up to take a look at goal. Those are the mistakes we are doing right now and those are the ones that are shooting ourselves in the foot. But, for the most part, it has been ourselves that are hurting our chances of winning rather than being the other team.’’