Saturday, September 1, 2012
Offense abandons Revs vs. Crew
By Brian O'Connell
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- If it's not one thing, then it's another when it comes to the circumstances surrounding the Revolution's current winless streak, which was extended to a franchise-high 10 straight following Saturday's 0-0 draw with the Union.
With the Revolution having scored seven goals in their previous three games, it seemed as if the defense -- which conceded eight within the same timeframe -- could tighten up, the attack would do the rest and the slide could finally come to a stop.
The defense held up its end of the bargain Saturday. The offense? Well, let's just say the Revs weren't in peak form.
"We couldn't create much offensively," Revolution midfielder Benny Feilhaber said after the game. "We were working hard defensively and we couldn't create much offensively, so that's (both) a positive and a negative."
The positive, of course, was the solid play of the makeshift back four. With Chris Tierney and AJ Soares unavailable due to injury, head coach Jay Heaps had to plug Darrius Barnes and Flo Lechner into the back line.
Although both had been used sparingly prior to Saturday's match, they brought a welcome sense of veteran savvy -- especially Lechner, who's never been shy to talk with his teammates in transition.
"Everybody was really trying to stay turned on," Revolution keeper Matt Reis said. "We did a good job of communicating tonight and that kept everyone in the game."
The defensive effort wouldn't have been complete without the remarkable play of Reis. The 15-year-veteran not only talked it up with his defenders, but also made a number of impressive saves to keep the Union off the board.
Granted, the eighth-place Union weren't the toughest opponent the Revolution had faced all season. In fact, the guests arrived in Foxboro with a five-game winless streak tethered to their name.
But on Saturday, the Union used the Revolution's offensive ineptitude to their advantage. While the hosts struggled to get something as simple a simple look on frame, Philadelphia dug up handful of chances prior to the interval.
In the 43rd minute, a Union counterattack sent Brian Carroll forward before he sprung Antoine Hoppenot, who went in alone on Reis. But the veteran keeper snuffed it out to keep it level at the half.
A minute later, Amobi Okugo nodded a Freddy Adu corner kick off the crossbar. The Union were coming close, but not close enough.
Reis was tested again in the opening moments of the second frame when Adu played a tempting ball ahead to Hoppenot, who saw his shot denied by the left leg of Reis.
"(Matt) was our best player," Revolution head coach Jay Heaps said. "For me, he made good saves. He came out for crosses, made some plays. It wasn't an easy night for him and he did well."
Shortly after Philadelphia's best chances came and went, the Revolution -- who hadn't fired a single shot until the 63rd minute -- finally created some chances of their own in the dying minutes.
In the 85th minute, Kelyn Rowe followed a deflected shot toward the far post, and immediately pounded it on frame. But Zac MacMath, who was rarely tested on the evening, stopped the effort cold in its tracks.
A minute into stoppage time, second-half substitute Dimitry Imbongo blasted a shot from distance that whistled just over the bar, as the Revolution pressed for a late game winner.
However, when it was all said and done, the attack simply couldn't find the form that had produced a flurry of goals lately.
"It was a jumbled-up game," Feilhaber said. "The chances were far and few in between. Most of the chances were off set pieces or just kind of random plays with balls kind of falling into people's laps."
Even though the offense wasn't sharp and the Revolution weren't able to snap their winless streak, Reis was encouraged by his team's improved focus against Philadelphia.
"Now, we know we can do it," Reis said. "It's difficult and it's tough, (but) hopefully we can keep that mental sharpness and add a little bit more of just keeping the ball. We had to defend a lot and we did a good job of doing it."