FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what the Revolution have to do to keep their postseason hopes from fading in Montreal on Saturday.
Maximum points against the fourth-place Impact (13-10-7, 46 points) is obviously the goal for the seventh-place Revolution (11-11-9, 42 points). But in order to pocket their first road win since mid-July, the Revolution face the unenviable task of keeping league-leading scorer Marco Di Vaio off the board.
“He's a classic poacher,” Chris Tierney said. “He plays that offside line (so well). He’s fine with being called offside five or six times before he slips in once. We just always have to be aware of where he is.”
Knowing where Di Vaio is at all times will be crucial to the Revolution’s success on Saturday. The last time the Italian striker faced the Revolution back on Sept. 8, he earned a fifth minute penalty -- which also forced the Revolution to finish with 10 men -- and added two tallies to his rap sheet en route to an offensive-charged 4-2 Montreal victory.
But even though Tierney and his teammates knew what to expect from Di Vaio prior to that contest, there was little they could do to thwart the Impact forward from putting his stamp on the game.
Revolution coach Jay Heaps may have been dismayed to see Di Vaio single-handedly dismantle his defense that night, but he was hardly surprised.
“The best players find those opportunities,” Heaps said. “We have to do better job of, once it happens, our reaction to it. If a player does get behind (the defense), how do you limit or mitigate what he’s really good at? I think we have to be better at that.”
A player of Di Vaio’s pedigree is a difficult challenge for any MLS defense to overcome, but it won’t be an impossible task. In fact, Tierney believes the best way to counter Di Vaio’s strengths is to force him into areas he’s not comfortable operating in.
“We'll look to stay tight defensively,” Tierney said. “We might have to give away a little bit of space on the flanks, (and) if that's the case, then we'll defend inside out and make sure we limit his space as much as possible."
But if Di Vaio does find a way to collect his 20th goal of the season on Saturday, Heaps wants to see the same resilience that helped the Revolution bounce back against the Red Bulls last week. After Fabian Espindola scored the opening goal in the 14th minute, the Revolution scored two late goals, and came within seconds of securing a win before Tim Cahill scored right before the final whistle.
“What I like is that we move on,” Heaps said. “Yeah, it's an unfortunate situation where we're playing by the skin of our teeth and anything (in which we) give a goal up is hurting our (playoff) chances. But at the same time, our reaction was good (last week), and we did enough to overcome that.”
Of course, Heaps and Tierney would prefer not to see the Impact take charge early. Because the Revolution need maximum points from Saturday’s contest, the emphasis will be on setting the tone defensively right out of the gate and, with enough pluck, capitalize late just as they did at Red Bulls Arena last week.
“First things first, we're going to try to not give anything away,” Tierney said. “If we stay in the game, whether it's a 0-0 half, or 0-0 in the 70th or 80th-minute, we're confident that, with the quality we have, attacking-wise, we're going to find a goal. So, we'll look to limit our mistakes, and take our chances when they come."