Monday, July 30, 2012
'Disappointing' tells story for Revs
By Brian O'Connell
CHESTER, Pa. -- It was the first word that came to mind when Revolution coach Jay Heaps was asked to describe what happened at PPL Park on Sunday.
It’s a word that summed it all up. The way strong chances evaporated. The way the defense withered in the waning minutes. The way a controversial penalty turned the tide against the Revs. All of it rolled up into a word that’s only getting heavier with each passing loss.
“We had our chances to win the game,” Heaps said after Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Union. “We had chances to go up 2-0, 3-0, but we didn’t do it and we’re left reeling a little bit.”
A 90th-minute header by the Union's Jack McInerney ended a night of missed opportunities for the Revolution.
How the Revolution casually left chances scattered on the pitch after the final whistle was another case study in final-third futility. And it’s a problem that’s proving to be a difficult one to correct.
After Saer Sene scored on a long-distance shot that snuck under the bar in the 12th minute, the Revolution had plenty of opportunities to widen the margin. Chances to brand the match with their mark, to correct the course on a season that’s headed south.
In the 35th minute, the Revolution were granted a golden opportunity to head into the locker room holding a two-goal lead. Benny Feilhaber played a ball through to Kelyn Rowe, who only had Zac MacMath to beat before his shot veered wide of the left post.
“We played a good first half,” Feilhaber said. "(We) went into the half 1-0 and felt good about it and had chances in the second half to open it up.”
But after holding a tenuous one-goal lead with the hour approaching, the momentum turned with a simple tug of the jersey.
With the Union pressing ahead, Gabriel Farfan played the ball over the defense to Jack McInerney, who chased it into the area. But before he could get to it, Kevin Alston grabbed a piece of the striker’s jersey, and McInerney fell to the ground, forcing official Edvin Jurisevic to point to the spot.
“I think it’s a harsh penalty,” Heaps said. “I think we all know it was outside the box and it doesn’t take anyone (much) to see that.”
Harsh or not, Freddy Adu’s penalty leveled the game at one a minute after the foul, which replays confirmed occurred outside the box.
Even so, Heaps believed that there were chances to grab. Sure, the momentum turned in Philadelphia’s favor. But the Revolution had no reason to bunker down and play for the draw.
After licking their wounds, the attack was eager to pounce at its next opportunity. In the 71st minute, Sene got another look and sent a shot that hovered above the bar. Close, but not close enough.
With play wide open on both ends, Sene nearly bagged the game-winner in the 89th minute. After the Union coughed up the ball inside their own end, the French forward shook a defender and went into the area before MacMath ran at him and snuffed out the chance.
“We just didn’t make the right decisions in front of goal,” Feilhaber said. “We had quality looks, but we just couldn’t put them into the back of the net.”
And the Revolution paid dearly for their offensive ineptitude in the 90th minute. With the Union crashing the net in numbers, Sheanon Williams went wide and crossed it far post to McInerney, whose game-winning header ripped the result away from the Revolution.
Disappointing? You could say that, along with a number of other choice words.
“We missed way too many opportunities on the attack,” Feilhaber said. “If you don’t score, you get scored on. I guess that’s the story of soccer.”
It’s easy to point fingers, to blame the circumstances or the referee or a bad bounce or missed call. But the fact is that the Revolution have no one to blame but each other for leaving points on the pitch on Sunday.
“We have to take a hard and long look at ourselves,” Heaps said. “But at the same time, look at the negatives, adjust, look at the positives and then move forward.”