FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – There’s no escaping it: The Revs have not been at their best lately. Not on the scoreboard, and certainly not in the standings.
And as has happened consistently in the past month, their puzzling lack of production in the final third thwarted their best intentions on Wednesday night as the Revs (3-7-5, 14 points) had to settle for a 0-0 draw against Toronto FC (2-5-9, 15 pts.) at Gillette Stadium.
“We had plenty of the ball in the final third,” said Revolution manager Steve Nicol. “We were just lacking that killer pass, killer run or killer shot.”
The Revs should have had no problem showing their killer instinct against a Toronto team that has conceded a league-high 25 goals and appeared to have no intention of taking anything more than a tie on the road.
“They came in here and they were wasting time on their goal kicks,” said Revolution skipper Shalrie Joseph. “That should have given you an idea of what they came here to do.”
While Toronto may have played for the draw, there was little doubt that the Revs were playing with a clear sense of urgency from the opening whistle.
New England knocked on Toronto’s doorstep again in the 20th minute when Tierney blasted a long-range rocket that forced Frei to the dive at the near post.
Despite two solid chances to take a lead going into the interval, the Revs fell short where it mattered the most: the score sheet.
“We were the team that was pressing,” said Nicol. “But it really is down to the final third and we didn’t have the quality when it was needed.”
Hoping to press the shaky Toronto defense even further and find the goal that escaped them in the first 45 minutes, Nicol inserted sparkplug Sainey Nyassi for Zak Boggs in the second stanza. It was a move that nearly paid immediate dividends.
Five minutes into the second frame, Lekic took a Nyassi pass inside the box, then fed it to Joseph, who ripped a shot that smacked Frei right in the chest before the keeper quickly collected it.
Eight minutes later, Kevin Alston delivered a ball deep from the right corner that fell right to Lekic. But the Danish striker, who struggled with his aim all night, sailed it wide of the far post.
It wasn’t the last time Lekic let a chance pass him by. In the 71st minute, Mansally seized a loose ball and space before he crossed it over to a lonely Lekic, who inexplicably missed the perfect pass near the far post.
“We just have to be better in the box,” said Joseph. “We were creating chances, but we just weren’t finishing them.”
“There were two [in which] the final pass [had] too much on it,” said Nicol. “That’s how close and how far away we are from scoring goals. We’re almost [there], but almost [there] doesn’t get you goals.”
With the score knotted at zero after 90 minutes, the Revs were afforded a final look in stoppage time.
Deep inside Toronto territory, Zack Schilawski weighted a perfect ball near the top of the box off for Joseph, determined to make his second shot on frame count. But, the skipper’s shot screamed over the bar and the eighth-place Revs walked off the pitch with only a single point, preventing them from leap-frogging sixth-place Toronto.
“I think we’re definitely frustrated and disappointed that we only got one point tonight,” said Joseph. “Being at home, you have to pick up three points.”
Despite the fact that they watched a series of sure-fire opportunities vanish in front of their eyes, the Revs took some measure of solace that the draw wasn’t for lack of effort -- or chances.
“We just need to be encouraged that we have plenty of the ball in the final third,” said Nicol. “We have to be positive, and we were as positive as much as we’ve been to get into the final third. But we just didn’t have that quality when it was needed.”