Revs head home from SJ with work to do

Loss to Quakes exposes familiar problems for New England

New England traveled to San Jose with a two-game winning
streak and a whole bunch of momentum in its favor after sweeping Toronto FC
aside 4-1 at Gillette Stadium last weekend.

The Revs will depart the Bay Area on Sunday with a jarring
reminder that there’s plenty of work still to do after a 2-0 defeat to the
Earthquakes on Saturday night at Buck Shaw Stadium.

<p>Watch: <a style="color: #336699; font-weight: bold;
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href="http://www.mlssoccer.com/content/highlights-sj-vs-ne">FULL
MATCH HIGHLIGHTS</a></p>

“I didn’t think we were particularly good tonight,” New
England boss Steve Nicol told reporters after the game. “I don’t think there is
any denying that.”

Chris Wondolowski and Ike Opara inflicted the second-half
damage for San Jose, but the Revs may wonder whether the buildup to the 57th-minute
opener played a pivotal role deciding the outcome of the match.

Revolution midfielder Chris Tierney and Earthquakes
midfielder Joey Gjertsen challenged for a 50-50 ball in the New England half.
Gjertsen arrived first with gusto and Tierney fell to the ground in the
collision. Tierney appealed for the foul, but referee Elias Bazakos waved away
the claims and allowed play to continue.

Gjertsen subsequently started the move for the first goal as
he played a diagonal ball into Ryan Johnson's feet. The Jamaican striker held
up the ball in the attacking third, turned and played Wondolowski through the
middle as the Revs futilely raised their arms for offside.

Wondolowski tucked home Johnson's feed to provide the
breakthrough after Preston Burpo made three fine first-half saves to keep the
match deadlocked heading into the second stanza.

“Sadly, I think the goals that went against us shouldn’t
have happened,” Nicol said. “I think the first goal was offside, and that
obviously changes the game. Like I said, we didn’t play well.”

Opara's second goal in as many weeks after 72 minutes
condemned the Revs to their second defeat in three road matches, but one
changed sequence or one missed opportunity likely wouldn't have turned the tide
as the Earthquakes controlled proceedings for the majority of the match.

Familiar problems crept to the surface once again as New
England struggled to cope with Shalrie Joseph's (right hip flexor strain)
absence for the third time in four matches and failed to produce the type of
performance usually required to walk away with a road result.

“We got off to a slow start,” Tierney said. “I thought we
were lucky going into the half nil-nil. I thought it was a questionable
build-up to their first [goal] and poor marking on the second. I don’t think we
deserved three points tonight. It was a fair bill.”

For most of the match, the Revs labored in possession,
though they did show an ability to keep the ball for brief periods. Without the
ability to connect passes with some consistency through the middle of the park,
the Earthquakes were able to wrest control of the match, press forward and rely
on wingers Bobby Convey and Gjertsen to provide ample service from the wide
areas.

San Jose's supply from the wings and from set pieces caused
New England significant problems and Opara's header exposed the Revolution on a
set piece for the second time this season.

“It was just one of those nights where we never found our
game,” Revolution defender Darrius Barnes told reporters after the match. “We
didn’t get the ball moving, we didn’t find the chemistry tonight. We couldn’t link
up passes. It was a frustrating night overall. We had a few chances that we
could have stolen. We [could have] got ahead early, but we couldn’t take
advantage of those. Then they came back and got their own goal and that was the
difference in the game”.

Marko Perovic's impressive full debut, another fine
performance from Burpo and a late attacking flurry will give the Revolution
positives to cling to as they fly home on Sunday, but New England will start
its preparations for Colorado's visit next Saturday knowing improvement is
required to make the most of the upcoming three-match homestand.