FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When the goals are hard to come by, a team often leans heavily on its defense to see itself through the desert.
And that’s precisely what the Revolution have done during the last two weeks. With consecutive clean sheets against Colorado and Vancouver, the defense has risen to occasion and, most importantly, helped the club poach four points in the process even though they scored a single goal in the two games.
“Anytime you can pick up points it’s always big,” said Revolution defender Darrius Barnes. “We’ll need these points later on the season and it gives us more confidence.”
There’s little doubt that the Revs confidence in the back has increased in recent weeks. After suffering its worst defeat of the season -- a 3-0 thrashing against Chivas USA back on April 30th -- the defense dusted itself off and has played shut out soccer since.
One reason for its resurgence is something simple: familiarity, which obviously grows as the season progresses.
“I think as time goes on, we’re coming together a little better,” said Revolution defender Kevin Alston. “I think we have a good core in the back and we’re just trying to be on the same page and communicate well.”
Another reason: the number of seasoned defenders on its roster, which is something the Revs set out to do during the offseason when they signed Franco Coria, Ryan Cochrane, and Didier Domi.
But even though Coria and Domi have been limited by injuries this season, the team has the luxury of having experienced and versatile players like Darrius Barnes and Chris Tierney to plug the holes when -- and wherever--- needed.
“That’s a product of a deep roster,” said Alston. “To have guys that can come in and fill spots right away is (important).”
Of course, having a deep bench is always crucial for any club, especially in a league as physical as MLS. But, in the wake of Saturday night’s nail-biting 1-0 win over Vancouver, Revolution keeper Matt Reis acknowledged there’s still room for improvement.
“We need to do a better job of seeing the game out and just passing it around them,” said Reis. “We didn’t do that as well as we could (have), so I think it’s something we can work on.”
Nevertheless, the 14-year veteran was encouraged by the overall performance put on by his defenders against a spirited Whitecaps side.
“We’re going to have to win games 1-0 if we want to be a good team,” said Reis. “I thought we put in a great performance defensively. I think there were times when we were really, really good and that’s something to build on.”
Given his team’s scoring woes, Reis and the Revolution defense will certainly have to continue to work hard to keep their club contending this season. And while a 222-minute scoreless streak is a nice base to build on, Alston is certainly aware of the fact that he and his teammates cannot afford to let their heads get too swollen with pride.
“We know that we have to stay grounded,” said Alston. “We can still build off of this and just get better and better.”
Brian O'Connell is covering the Revolution for ESPNBoston.com. He is the co-founder of New England Soccer Today (www.nesoccertoday.com), which covers professional soccer within New England. He can be reached at BOConnell21@aol.com.