Sunday, June 30, 2013
Heaps 'a little bit disappointed' after draw
By Brian O'Connell, Special to ESPNBoston.com
Typically, a point on the road is enough to appease an MLS head coach, especially when it comes at the end of a grueling stretch of travel.
But even though the Revolution (5-5-6, 21 points) spent the better part of last week packing their bags and collecting boarding passes, Jay Heaps felt like his club should've gotten more from Saturday's 1-1 draw to Western Conference cellar dweller Chivas USA (3-10-3, 11 points) at the StubHub Center.
"We are a little bit disappointed on how we played the majority of the game," Heaps told the media after the game. "We did a good job at times possessing, but our balls weren't good enough. It was probably the first game that we couldn't sort anything offensively."
It was no mystery as to why the Revolution attack found itself flummoxed so often. Knowing they didn't have the horses to run with their guests, Chivas immediately dropped back numbers and flooded their defending third, hoping to get something started from a well-timed counterattack.
To their credit, the approach yielded early dividends. In the 18th minute, Tristan Bowen played a ball to Laurent Courtois, who fired a shot from outside the box that took a slight deflection and fell into the net.
Holding an early lead, Chivas dropped back even further, and essentially invited the Revolution into their end. Although there was enough space beyond the halfway line for center backs Jose Goncalves and Stephen McCarthy to push up, the Chivas defense choked the attack the closer it got toward goal.
"It was a pretty hard game to go through the defense," Revolution midfielder Diego Fagundez told the media after the game. "We tried getting that goal and it was just one piece missing and it was the last ball."
What was missing was the dearth of passing channels to exploit. The Chivas back four and central midfielders packed the area in front of the 18, which only stonewalled Fagundez and Saer Sene, both of whom tried in vain to cut inside and fire a shot.
"Every time I was going wide, the field (looked) so big you would think you were near the box," Fagundez said. "But you were 40 yards away and it was just tough with the dry air here and it was hard to develop. The fight was definitely there."
It's hard to say how much the conditions (73 degrees with 73 percent humidity at kickoff) actually played a role in stifling the Revolution as they approached the area. However, it was plainly clear that they were lacking ideas and creativity inside the final third.
With the possibility of leaving Los Angeles without a point looming over the Revolution, Heaps commissioned Chad Barrett to come on in the 83rd minute. The objective Heaps handed to his veteran striker was simple.
"There's pretty much one thing that you're supposed to do," Barrett told the media after the game. "Score goals, be dangerous and create chances. "
And that's precisely what Barrett brought to the table in the waning stages. With only two minutes before stoppage time, Barrett collected a cross from Fagundez at the far post and, somehow, mustered enough thrust on his effort to deflect off of defender Marco Delgado and squirt past goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.
"Diego put a good ball in, the guys were pretty tight on me and I just wanted to put it at goal," Barrett said. "I really can't tell you what happened. I think it hit me, the post, maybe it hit me again through my legs, I have no idea, but I'll take credit for it."
And while it wasn't the most potent display of soccer seen by the Revolution this season, Heaps gave his players credit for battling from start to finish – even if it wasn't the result they anticipated.
"I thought the fight was there but (the offense) still wasn't clicking the right way," Heaps said. "So we'll go back (and) have a full week of training and get back to basics of what we are good at, and prepare ourselves for San Jose (on July 6)."