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Monday, May 9, 2011
Nicol calling for a creative solution

By Brian O'Connell

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In the wake of Saturday night’s 0-0 draw to Colorado, which extended the Revolution’s current scoreless streak to 187 minutes, Revolution coach Steve Nicol didn’t mince words about his team’s recent woes in the attacking third.

Never mind that the Revs, who addressed a pair of glaring needs with the offensive-minded signings of Rajko Lekic and Benny Feilhaber, have become stronger since the start of the season. Or that, when healthy, the Revs arguably already have the horses to make a serious charge to the top of the conference.

According to Nicol, who’s voice simmered with frustration during Saturday night’s postmatch press conference, at least one missing piece remains.

“We have to sign someone who’s creative in the next transfer window,” Nicol said. “It’s something we’re trying to do, and we’re looking at now. But we need to do it and be more creative.”

Creativity has certainly proven to be a point of contention for the Revs this season. In their last five league matches, the team has been blanked four times, largely due to a lack of scoring from its strikers.

But the forwards can't be blamed for the team’s offensive ineptitude -- at least not entirely. Despite the fact that the strikers have scored only three of the team’s eight goals this season, Nicol cited the team’s lack of service to Lekic, the lone striker, on Saturday night as a primary example of team’s failures in the final third.

“We lacked that creativity to get him the ball when it matters,” Nicol said. “The one at the end kind of sums it up: He’s in the right place to put the ball in the back of the net, but he doesn’t get the pass. It’s tough for him when he’s not getting great service.”

And Lekic wasn’t the only one who showed for the ball in space, but was left shouting for service Saturday night. On a couple of occasions, Shalrie Joseph and Kenny Mansally could have watched the tumbleweeds roll past while the attack fell apart in the final third.

“It’s tough on everybody,” Nicol said. “We’ve had so much of the ball and not to use it well enough hurts us.”

It certainly hurt them on Saturday night. With the defending champs in town, the Revs had the Rapids on the ropes for much of the match. But their startling inability to bang the ball through dashed any hopes of making Saturday night a statement game.

“We did have three real good chances that we made that we probably should have done better with,” Nicol said. “But at the same time, we should have created more than we did. That’s the biggest disappointment.”

While Lekic will likely find more opportunities as the season progresses and his comfort level with his new teammates increases, it’s clear that Nicol believes that the cure for his team’s playmaking woes won’t be found in Foxborough.

“We need to sign somebody who is more creative in the final third,” Nicol said. “Obviously we miss Marko [Perovic] -- we miss his creativity. But we need to get more, that’s for sure.”

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.