Monday, April 4, 2011
Revs head West for mid-week tilt with Vancouver
By Brian O'Connell
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In the wake of the Revolution's disappointing 1-1 draw to the expansion Portland Timbers, it was clear that many of the players inside the Revolution locker room were anxious to get back on the pitch and prove the result was nothing more than a fluke.
Fortunately for the players, they won’t have to wait terribly long for that opportunity.
On Wednesday, the Revolution will face another expansion team -- the Vancouver Whitecaps -- in a rare mid-week league matchup that gives many of the players a welcome reason to put Saturday's performance in the rearview mirror.
“We can’t hang our heads too long about this one," said Revolution midfielder Pat Phelan. "We have to take care of our bodies (before) it’s out West on Monday.”
The players will indeed have to take care of their bodies if they hope to rebound quickly from the tough 1-1 result against the Timbers. With a lengthy, cross-continent flight ahead of them, it'll be the first test of the team's physical and mental mettle following a lackluster performance.
Although some of the Revs players didn't profess to have a wealth of knowledge on the expansion Whitecaps shortly after Saturday night's match, Revolution defender Ryan Cochrane believes that Vancouver's energy will be identical to the variety that Portland recently brought to Gillette Stadium.
"I think they'll be exactly like Portland," said Cochrane. "They'll be fired up and they'll be at home and I know the fans up there will have a lot of support for them. It'll be a tough environment, but we're up for it."
They’ll have to be up for it if they intend to poach a point at Empire Field. With an impressive 22,592 fans at Vancouver’s home opener on March 19th against Canadian archrival Toronto FC, the Revs can realistically expect a boisterous and unfriendly crowd surrounding them once they step onto the pitch.
Of course, the Vancouver fans will likely be the least of New England’s worries come Wednesday night. Unlike their expansion counterparts, the Whitecaps have not only found their form, but have found the win column in league play as well.
Another sign that may spell trouble for the Revs is Vancouver’s recent 3-3 draw to Sporting Kansas City, which saw the Canadian side valiantly score two stoppage time goals to pilfer a point in dramatic fashion Saturday night. Although it’s still early, the Whitecaps certainly haven’t performed like a typical expansion team.
Wednesday’s matchup should prove to be a good test for the Revs, especially taking into consideration that many of the players felt the team left points on the pitch over the weekend. After having their confidence cracked by Portland, the Vancouver match gives them not only a chance for redemption, but also an opportunity to keep doing what they've done in every match thus far -- acquire points.
"We’re still chasing points so that makes [Wednesday’s] game even more important," said Revolution striker Zack Schilawski. "It would be nice to have gotten three points in (the Portland) game so we could go into it with a little bit more of a cushion.”
Even without that added cushion, the Revs will likely approach the mid-week road match in the same manner as they did prior to the season opener in Los Angeles: as a battle.
“We’re going to have to keep fighting,” said Schilawski. “We can’t dwell on (the 1-1 draw) for too long. (We’ve) got to get ready for Wednesday.”
Not only will they have to fight, but they’ll also have to play intelligently, especially with little time to prepare and train given the quick turnaround.
"Sometimes, on the road, you have to be a little bit smarter," said Cochrane. "We want three (points), but coming out with something from the next (game) is what we're looking for."
Although the memory of their last match may not be completely forgotten, players like Cochrane are certain that it won't linger.
"We move forward from here," said Cochrane. "No looking back."
Brian O'Connell is covering the Revolution for ESPNBoston.com. He is the co-founder of New England Soccer Today (www.nesoccertoday.com), which covers professional soccer within New England. He can be reached at BOConnell21@aol.com.