By Kevin Koczwara
The last time the New England Revolution lost a game in any competition was an embarrassing 5-0 defeat to Real Salt Lake on July 2, just before the Major League Soccer All-Star break, at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City.
But, like most good things, the Revs’ winning streak had to come to an end at some point.
The Revolution lost two games in the past week as it made a road trip through Chicago and Kansas City.
The Revs lost a tough game on Wednesday to the Chicago Fire, 2-1. The game could have gone either way as both teams tenaciously battled for the much desired three points. If the Revolution had earned the desired result, it would have leapt over the Fire and into fourth place in the Eastern Conference and made up some ground in the Wild Card race for the MLS Playoffs.
What made the loss to the Fire so difficult was the way the Revolution lost the match. It took an 85th minute goal from a virtually unknown forward to seal the match for Chicago and a series of missed calls from the referee to keep the Revs out of the Fire’s net.
Marko Perovic was hauled down just outside of the box by a Chicago defender was the most atrocious of the missed calls. Perovic had already scored one goal in the game and looked to be destined to lead the Revolution to victory with a second, but he was not given the chance as he was fouled more than once but no whistle blew for the Serbian.
But the real downfall was the loss of composure as the team let Calen Carr break free and score the game-winning goal so late in the match.
“Overall, it was all right. It’s a hard loss to take, one of the hardest of the season when you lose in the last 4 minutes,” said New England midfielder Pat Phelan. “We just have to move on from it and keep going. We had a nice little run and now it stopped and reality is back in check. We just need to go and keep pushing.”
There was no reason to think the Revs wouldn’t keep pushing and take a win out of the road trip as they traveled to Kansas City on Saturday. The team had just rattled off an eight-game unbeaten streak and nearly made it nine only a few days before and they played a Kansas City team that had scored fewer goals than the Revs – only DC United scored fewer than the two clubs.
But for some reason New England could not pull its act together and clean up the defense in Kansas City. The Wizards ran riot on the Revolution defense scoring four goals while holding the Revs to a single tally on the board and rolling to a 4-1 win.
During the Revs eight-game winning streak, the team had allowed just two goals in eight games while keeping six clean sheets. During their two away games last week, the Revs allowed six goals – not an impressive showing.
“Defensively, we were solid the past couple of games and tonight we came in here and had a stinker,” said Revolution captain and midfielder Shalrie Joseph after the club’s defeat in Kansas City. “We just didn’t perform well. We were awful, and that’s the bottom line about it.”
It was a tough swing through the Midwest, but the Revs will look forward to their next game. The Revolution host the Philadelphia Union next Saturday at home in Foxborough and could make up some ground again in the play-off standings with a win over the MLS newcomers.
Don’t Bet Against The Streak, Unless the Revs Play Away
Since the loss to RSL the Revolution had gone unbeaten with an impressive 6-0-2 record in all competitions. The Revs beat the best team in the league, Los Angeles Galaxy, and powered their way into the SuperLiga finals during the eight-game unbeaten streak. The only thing really missing from their winning streak’s resume was a decisive road victory.
Yes, the Revolution beat Chicago in the Windy City in SuperLiga play, and they tied Philadelphia in front of the Union’s hostile home crowd. But neither was a decisive performance that reflected how well the team was playing at home.
During the winning streak, the team conceded a mere two goals before letting up a combined six between Chicago and Kansas City. Not the same type of dominant defense that was on display, while racking up six wins and two draws during July and August.
In fact, the Revolution’s record away from home looks like a shaggy dog that has spent a day rolling in the mud. In league play the Revs are 1-8-1 away from the comfy confines of Gillette stadium, and they have put up some stinker of performances that match the 4-1 defeat to Kansas City from Saturday.
The 5-0 loss to Real Salt Lake really stands out on the heels of a 3-0 loss in Seattle that could have been much worse had the Sounders put away more of their chances on net.
“To be one of the best teams in this league, you’ve got to win on the road and you’ve got to get points on the road,” said Joseph after the Kansas City loss. “If you can’t do that, you’re not going to make the playoffs. You’re not going to be one of those teams they are talking about. It’s just not good enough.”
The Revs will close out the season with a balanced schedule that features half of their final 10 games being played away from Gillette Stadium.
And if they can’t succeed in pulling together their away form and making the playoffs, well, at least the SuperLiga final will be played at Gillette and the Revolution should be just fine against a Monarcas Morelia team that they have already beat in Foxborough.
Kevin Koczwara is a contributing writer and editor for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached a email@example.com.