Monday, May 28, 2012
Second-half comeback a silver lining
By Brian O'Connell
On Saturday, Revolution coach Jay Heaps went into the locker room for halftime less than thrilled. That much was obvious.
It wasn’t so much the score line -- 2-0 in favor of D.C. -- that troubled Heaps the most. Nor was it the way the attack consistently stalled or the manner in which his midfield struggled to set a comfortable rhythm.
Rather, it was the way his team offered little resistance in the defending third. The way his team easily crumbled under pressure. And Dejan Jakovic’s first-half stoppage time strike to make it a two-goal deficit only drove home the point.
“The second [goal] to me is unforgivable, quite frankly,” Heaps said after Saturday’s 3-2 loss. “It was [right] before half, just textbook [definition] of what you don’t want to give up.”
With the bitter taste of Jakovic’s tally still fresh, Heaps didn’t mince words.
“I told them what I thought in my heart,” Heaps said. “That we gave them the 2-0 [lead].”
Heaps could have left his team with that sentiment. He could have simply berated his players and left the room to let them stew over their failures.
Instead, he looked ahead to the second half. A second chance. A chance for redemption. And with that in mind, the Revolution coach delivered a call to arms.
“I really called upon them to show some heart in the second half,” Heaps said. “The first 10 minutes of the second half was where the game was going to be won or lost.”
Heaps' words nearly proved to be prescient. Within the first five minutes of the second frame, the Revolution showed Heaps the one thing he was looking for: Heart.
In the 48th minute, Benny Feilhaber fired a 20-yard shot that was too hot for Bill Hamid to corral. The rebound fell right to an oncoming Saer Sene, who poked it through to put the Revolution on the board.
But the Revolution weren’t done. After all, that critical 10-minute window Heaps alluded to at halftime remained open.
Sensing the need for an immediate follow-up, the Revolution earned another chance near the D.C. net in the 50th minute. Chris Tierney launched a keen outswinger from the right corner toward the near post, where A.J. Soares flicked it past a helpless Bill Hamid. And just like that, the game was tied.
“We responded well in the second half,” Revolution forward Jose Moreno said after the game. “We scored one goal and then we tied the game pretty quickly.”
The two rapid-fire goals served as a springboard for the Revolution’s confidence and form in the second half. Although D.C.’s Maicon Santos sealed the scoreline when he put through the game-winner in the 61st minute, the Revolution never stopped knocking on the door.
An opportunity to level it again arrived in the 89th minute. Once again, it was Tierney on the cross. But this time, Hamid was there to get his fingertips on Kelyn Rowe’s dangerous header to preserve the three points for D.C.
“We showed what we were capable of in the second half,” Tierney said. “Unfortunately in this league, if you don’t do it for 90 minutes, it’s not going to amount to wins.”