By Kevin Koczwara
Things looked like they were finally going in a positive direction for the Revs. Just a few weeks ago they signed American International midfielder Benny Feilhaber. Feilhaber had an instant impact in the team’s 3-2 victory over Sporting Kansas City that weekend. The season was looking bright for New England heading into two winnable games with Chivs USA and a slumping Colorado Rapids.
Since then, things haven’t worked out to plan for the Revs. The Revolution were embarrassed in Los Angeles by lowly Chivas USA, 3-0. Then the team couldn’t muster anything in front of goal for a second straight week last Saturday in a 0-0 draw with the Colorado Rapids. Both those games were winnable games. Chivas sits at the bottom of the heap and in the midst of a re-building year. Colorado is without its two-headed strike partnership Omar Cummings and Conor Casey. The Revolution just didn’t have what it took to get the vital six points from the two matches.
On a positive note, New England tallied it’s first shutout of the season last weekend in the draw with the Rapids. The Revs’ last defensive shutout came last season on Oct. 16, 2010 in a 1-0 win against Kansas City.
In the shutout, things looked better in the midfield with the additions of Feilhaber and Ousmane Dabo — making his first start in the league — partnering with Shalrie Joseph in the middle of the midfield. The trio controlled play and held onto possession better than the team has done in a long time.
“I think tonight was probably the best possession performance we’ve had all year. To go from a really flat game we had [at Chivas USA] last week to this, it’s a step forward,” said Revolution defender Ryan Cochrane after Saturday’s draw with Colorado.
“We have A.J. [Soares] on the back four being on the attack all season and we haven’t allowed him breaks in the games where he can catch himself. Tonight, I don’t think any of [the defenders] complained about chasing,” said Joseph after the draw.
We did a lot of good stuff with the ball in terms of being patient and in terms of moving it into good areas and it’s just unfortunate that we just couldn’t find that one tonight, but we can take a lot from tonight and be better next week.”
Next week has arrived. And the Revolution need to get three points against expansion side Vancouver at Gillette Stadium on Saturday.
The Vancouver Whitecaps come into the game on Saturday with a 0-3-1 record since the two teams met in a 1-1 draw on April 6. New England needs to take advantage of the long trip the Whitecaps have to make to New England, much like Vancouver did when the Revs played in British Columbia. The Revolution should be able to capitalize on the travel fatigue and the team should be able to exploit its superiority in the middle of midfield with the likes of Joseph, Feilhaber and Dabo roaming and controlling play.
To really make a mark, though, the Revolution needs to find the back of the net, something the team hasn’t done since netting three against Kansas City on April 23. If the Revolution can break the hex that’s been following them for two years now, and get some consistent goal scoring, starting Saturday night, New England could be a top side in the Eastern Conference with its revamped defense and strong and deep central midfield.
The New England Revolution kickoff against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday at 7:30 p.m EST at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Follow The Soccer Guys on Twitter for all your updates @TheSoccerGuys.
Kevin Koczwara can be reached at Kevin.Koczwara@thesoccerguysonline.com.