FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It’s often said that good teams do all the little things well. For the New England Revolution (12-11-9, 45 points), it’s an axiom they hope to put into action during their regular-season home finale against the Columbus Crew (12-15-5, 41 points) on Saturday.
With two regular-season games remaining and maximum points a must, Revolution coach Jay Heaps wants his club to leave no stone unturned as they prepare for a matchup that could either strengthen or end their postseason push.
“We have to spend a lot of time on the details this week,” Heaps said. “The attention to detail is vital for us because the margin for error isn't there anymore. We have to make sure that anytime we can do something that’s going to help us, we have to do it.”
That mindset served the Revolution well last week in Montreal, where a 1-0 win allowed them to claim three points. But it was how they were able to beat the Impact that really drove home the point about paying attention to the details.
With team defense at the forefront, the Revolution were able to force league-leading scorer Marco Di Vaio into uncomfortable spots, and they were able to seize back the ball in the defensive edge of the middle third. Just as importantly, they were able to capitalize on a golden scoring chance in the 31st minute when Jose Goncalves ushered a close-range shot into the back of the net.
"We just had good performances all around the field, and I think to a man, we all won battles,” Revolution left back Chris Tierney said. “We all fought hard, we were all 110 percent committed, and when those things add up, it (favors) us winning."
But looking deeper into how a team can convert opportunities into points, it isn’t limited just to the players, especially this week. After Saer Sene suffered a season-ending leg injury last week, and given Lee Nguyen’s one-game suspension for Saturday due to caution accumulation, the coaching staff will be doing extra homework to fill the voids.
Heaps knows that the absences of Sene and Nguyen will be felt Saturday, but he’s confident that veterans like Clyde Simms, Andy Dorman and Chad Barrett are all capable of picking up the slack when called upon.
"It's obviously difficult to lose two key players,” Heaps said. “In the same breath, we feel we've built a pretty deep team, and the players feel it's a deep team and they want time (on the field). And so we've got guys that are just ready to step up."
No doubt they’ll need to. The Crew enter Saturday’s clash just as hungry for points, and have the weapons needed to take three points away from the Revolution, who needed a pair of late goals to unlock a July 20 match versus Columbus that remained scoreless for 90-plus minutes.
"They've got some good pace throughout the team,” Tierney said. “They like to hit you on the counter, and they've got some big, strong center backs. They're pretty good defensively (too), so it's a tough matchup.”
The Crew are a rejuvenated group following the appointment of technical director Brian Bliss as head coach. Since taking over for Robert Warzycha on Sept. 2, Bliss has guided Columbus to a 4-2-0 record and has them within striking distance of a postseason berth.
“They're one of the hottest teams in the league right now,” Heaps said. "They've shown they can go out on the road and (get) points anywhere they've gone."
Although the Crew pose a legitimate threat to the Revolution’s postseason hopes, Tierney believes that the only team that can keep his club from getting the win on Saturday will be the unit wearing navy blue.
“Like I've been saying all year,” Tierney said, “if we play up to our capabilities, I'm confident that we'll take three points."