Game of Opportunities: Revolution continue to be burned by mistakes

By Kevin Koczwara

It didn’t matter that the New England Revolution enjoyed more possession. It didn’t matter that the Revs pushed the San Jose Earthquakes back in their own half for the majority of the game. It didn’t matter that the Revolution took more shots — 18 to San Jose’s 14, which is a deceiving because New England seemed to be pressing more and in control of the game. It didn’t matter that the Revolution had plenty of chances in front of goal. It doesn’t matter that the Revolution enjoyed the majority of possession and looked a team on Saturday night rather than a collection of individuals, which has not been the case for much of the season.

None of that matters because the Quakes (7-11-14 35 pts.) won the game, 2-1. Results matter. Form and style means nothing if you lose.

The Revolution (5-15-12 27 pts.) were unable to get the kind of result the team worked for, and deserved. It’s the way things have gone this season.

The Revolution were ruing missed chances while the Quakes finished theirs with poise and reckless abandon. San Jose capitalized on New England’s mistakes. That was the difference. And it’s been the difference for much of the disappointing season for the Revs.

“Déjà vu: we make chances, don’t take them, and we give up bad goals. Seen it too many times before,” said Revolution manager Steve Nicol after the game about his team’s performance against San Jose, and summing up the season.

Ryan Cochrane hasn’t had the best of seasons for the Revolution since arriving in the offseason in the supplemental draft from the Houston Dynamo (I’m saying that lightly). His struggles continued against Chris Wondolowsk, last season’s MLS MVP and Golden Boot winner. It only took 8 minutes and a 70 yard kick from San Jose goalkeeper David Bingham for Cochrane to find himself struggling to keep up once again. Wondolowski took down the long ball the New England penalty area while Cochrane chased to keep up. The Quakes’ forward took the pass down with a sublime touch and then slotted his shot past Bobby Shuttleworth, who did well to force a difficult shot.

“I know that (David) Bingham has a great distribution and he launched the ball and I was kind of ready for it and just kind of timed the run and put it right there. So, that was nice. Getting the ball there is half the work, so I decided to bring it down and finish it,” said Wondolowski about the goal after the game.

New England came back, though.

The Revs played well through the middle of the field and enjoyed the majority of possession while San Jose played over the midfield. New England was stronger and more organized through the midfield, which hasn’t been the case for much of the season, even when the team played with three central midfielders. This posed problems for San Jose in retaining possession. Eventually, New England found a way through after a poor challenge and foul by Ramiro Corrales in the 55th minute.

Chris Tierney stepped up for the free kick from 35-yards-out and sent his shot underneath San Jose’s jumping wall. Tierney’s shot found Cochrane at the edge of the box. With his back to goal, Cochrane sent the ball out wide to Ryan Guy who blasted a shot from distance and forced a diving save from Bingham. Mitlon Caraglio stood on the edge of the six-yard-box and headed the rebound back on goal, only to find Bingham getting a slight touch on the chance to force it off the crossbar. Again a Revolution player was waiting. This time it was Benny Feilhaber, and the midfielder finished the chance with authority, hitting the volley from only a few yards from goal. It was the kind of opportunistic goal the Revolution have missed too often this year, and the kind of goal its opponents have scored. It’s also the only time in the game the Revolution would finish a chance and pounce on an opportunity.

The goal was a long time coming. The opportunistic nature of the chance didn’t carry over for the remainder of the 90 minutes. The Revolution continued to miss chances as it put pressure on the Quakes.

The dagger came for the Revolution in the 82nd minute when Wondolowski scored his second goal, securing three points for San Jose. Wondolowski headed home a cross from Simon Dawkins after the Quakes put together a quick counter-attack and found the Revolution defense reeling to keep up. Wondolowski rose above the Revolution defenders and powered home the header at the back post from only a few yards out. The goal was the 15th time this season that the Revolution allowed its opponent to score in the final 15 minutes of the game, which coincidentally is how many times the team has lost on the season.

“It’s not a case of motivation, to be honest. It’s people making mistakes. I don’t think again tonight it’s a matter of motivation. We went forward for most of the evening. We just haven’t been able to deal with counter attacks or simple long balls from the goalkeeper’s hand. That’s what’s done us tonight: a 70-yard kick out from the goalie and a counterattack which we haven’t dealt with, and we lose again,” said Nicol.

“You spend the night going forward and try to push them. We didn’t miss any open goals. We certainly had four of five occasions in which we might have scored and we could be sitting here with four or five goals behind us, but we haven’t. And we’ve lost the game because we make basic errors defensively. What else so you say? It’s kind of been the same story for most of the season: we’ve done the same things. We’ve made chances and not taken them and then given up bad goals and we end up losing games,” Nicol continued.

It’s been that kind of season for Nicol and the Revolution. When things seem to be going in the right direction, someone makes a mistake and the wheels fall off. Whether it be an errant pass, a missed mark, or someone falling asleep at the back, it’s been a season to forget and a season of mistakes. With the additions of Ryan Guy, Mitlon Caraglio, Monsef Zerka and the insertion of Diego Fagundez into the line up, the Revolution have the attacking punch it’s been looking for. But it’s still lacking the edge to win games and finish the valuable chances the team creates, while struggling to hold its composure in the back and limit opponents chances.

Soccer, like any sport, is a game of mistakes and opportunities. Games are won and loss by taking advantage of a bad pitch or error in baseball, a blown assignment or missed read in football and in soccer

Some 2011 New England Revolution Team Notes

 

Turf at Gillette’s been tough; not home field advantage

Since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002, the Revs have not had a losing record at home. The previous low for a winning percentage in a season at home came in 2001 at Foxboro Stadium.; the team posted a 6-5-2 mark (.562). A win against Columbus on Saturday would be the club’s 5th win at home in 17 matches, giving the Revs a .470 winning percentage this season at home.

 

Got to win to avoid (bad) club record

In order to avoid a club record for fewest wins in a season, the Revs need to win their final two matches of the season — against Columbus on Saturday and at Toronto FC on Oct. 22. The 2001 Revolution squad won seven games in a shortened 27-game season since 2000, the

Revs have failed to reach 10 wins three times: 2001 (7 wins), 2004 (8 wins)

and 2010 (9 wins).

Kevin Koczwara can be reached at Kkoczwar@gmai.com.

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