Friday, September 13, 2013
Revs need extra spark vs. Fire
By Brian O'Connell
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Revolution coach Jay Heaps knows that the Fire are going to find chances against his squad in Saturday’s clash at Toyota Park. In a sense, it would be foolish to think otherwise.
At home, the Fire boast an 8-4-2 record, and have grabbed victories against two of the top three teams in the conference (Montreal and Sporting Kansas City) in recent weeks, thanks in part to the efforts of Mike Magee and Dilly Duka.
But even though the dynamic duo have shown they can exploit a defense at a moment’s notice, what Heaps is hoping for is that his back line doesn’t give Magee and Duka more than their fair share of opportunities.
“It’s about limiting the unnecessary chances,” Heaps said. “Because good players are going to get chances. It’s hard to say you’re going to shut guys (like them) out.”
On Aug. 17, the Revolution were able to keep both Magee and Duka off the board in a 2-0 win at Gillette Stadium. Although both players found the space to threaten the Revolution, the hosts succeeded in stifling the duo in front of the net.
But it’ll take more than keeping tabs and containing two of the Fire’s most potent attackers for the Revolution to call Saturday night a success, especially when taking the Eastern Conference table into consideration. With only a point separating the fifth-place Revolution from the seventh-place Fire, a draw does the guests little good, especially with the postseason race tightening in the last two weeks. So the Revolution know that they have to be just as sharp up front as they hope to be in the back.
“I think the most important thing for us is to take care of our chances,” Revolution defender Andrew Farrell said. “I think defensively, we’ll be alright. They’ll get their chances because they’ve got good players. But I think when Chris (Tierney) and I give those balls in (the box) and our forwards take care of those opportunities, (then) we’ll take care of business.”
While being defensively sound and offensively strong are always important, another thing the Revolution have to avoid are the costly mistakes.
In Sunday’s match against Montreal, the Revolution conceded two penalties, and allowed Marco Di Vaio to effectively score at will in a wild 4-2 loss. With points coming at a greater premium every week, Tierney knows his team can’t afford a repeat of Sunday’s performance.
“You just have to pick your times and be smart,” Tierney said. “(Chicago) likes to open the game up (at home) and they’ve got some guys that can hurt you with pace. You just have to keep track of their key players.”
With that in mind, Heaps knows that the best way -- and perhaps the only way -- his team can come away with three points is to play an intelligent and focused brand of soccer that starts in the back and, with a little ingenuity, yields success up front.
“It’s going to take smart plays,” Heaps said. “We can’t lose (track of) a guy -- I think that that’s something that’s hurt us. We have to be smart in how we try to take the game, whether we sit in a little bit more and counter attack or whether we press them high up the field.”