Monday, May 30, 2011
Revs better, but still can't find the net
By Brian O'Connell
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- On Saturday night, the Revs unquestionably positioned themselves to take three points against an MLS powerhouse.
The defenders stepped up, the midfield played organized soccer, and the attack-minded substitutes added bite to the offense in the later stages of the match.
But, as it has been for much of the season, the Revs ongoing problems in the final third allowed this week’s opponent -- the formidable Los Angeles Galaxy -- to grab three points.
“I don’t think the reasons behind us not winning tonight are any different than they were the last few games, certainly the last home games,” said Revolution manager Steve Nicol. “When it gets to that critical point, we’re just not getting it done.”
And in a game in which inches proved to be the difference, it was obvious that when those critical points arrived, the Revs simply weren’t up to snuff Saturday night.
“We just couldn’t finish our chances,” said Revolution skipper Shalrie Joseph. “We created some chances here and there. We got a lot of players digging in and working hard.”
There’s no questioning that the want, nor the desire, aren't the problem behind the Revs lagging attack this season. The intent is often present. In fact, it was apparent shortly after the opening whistle that the team craved an early goal.
In the 2nd minute, Zak Boggs barely missed a Benny Feilhaber cross that skipped off target. And while the early opportunity was an encouraging development for the home club, it still did nothing to change the score.
“We had a good chance through (Zak) Boggs to start the game,” said Revolution midfielder Chris Tierney. “I think that if we had just snuck that early goal it would have been a different game.”
Boggs followed up seven minutes later when he sent a pass into the area to Rajko Lekic, who flailed his right foot at it before another bid for the opening goal waved goodbye.
The failure to execute twice in the first ten minutes not only cost the Revs a goal, but also signaled that the larger problem -- the team’s staggering inefficiency in the final third -- remains unresolved.
“Between the sync and the final third, we’re just that wee bit out,” said Nicol. “Whether it’s a bad decision or a bad pass or a bad run.”
By the second half, those questionable decisions became evident when the attack jammed itself in the middle without the creativity it needed to break into the box.
And while the Revs were contemplating solutions to jump start the offense, they neglected their responsibilities in the rear in the 69th minute
After the New England defense had smothered the Galaxy attack for better than an hour, a keen cross from David Beckham to Miguel Lopez suddenly put the Revs in a familiar position -- playing from a deficit going into the latter moments of the match.
“It’s hard to play from behind, especially for our team,” said Joseph. “Mentally, we have to stay with it for 90 minutes.”
Despite their lack of mental acuity for the full 90, the Revs were improbably afforded one final chance in stoppage time to atone for their earlier mistakes.
In the midst of a wild scramble inside the box during the 92nd minute, Zack Schilawski saw two quality shots come within inches of the equalizer, while Joseph nodded a last-ditch header destined for the back of the net before it was cleared off the line.
But, it shouldn’t have come to that. The Revs had their chances well before the waning seconds. And while another opportunity to get a result vanished into the Norfolk County night, the Revs cannot afford to see its chances -- both on the field and in the point column -- continually elude them.
“Tonight, we had three great chances, (but) we just didn’t quite get it done,” said Nicol. “And that kind of sums of a lot of the stuff we’re doing. Sometimes we look pretty good, but we just don’t get it done.”
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.