Successful road trip provides needed spark
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A long-awaited victory over D.C. United and a hard-fought draw with the Colorado Rapids provided the New England Revolution with four critical points from last week’s two-game road trip as the club looks to climb back into Major League Soccer’s playoff picture.
But as important as those points may prove come the end of the season, the confidence boost provided by the Revolution’s performances at RFK Stadium and Dick’s Sporting Goods Park could ultimately prove more beneficial as the team aims to carry some momentum into the schedule’s stretch run.
“I feel like the team had forgotten how to win,” said defender Darrius Barnes, referencing the Revolution’s nine-game winless run which spanned more than two months from May to July. “It’s amazing the pressure that can come off your back after getting a win like that in D.C. and just having two games where we played fairly well. Just that alone will help the team to continue to build and hopefully stack up some results here in the future.”
Frustration inside the Revolution’s locker room reached its peak following a comprehensive 3-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union on July 17 at Gillette Stadium, a result which left the Revs mired at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. Held without a shot on target for just the third time in club history that night, the Revolution was left desperately searching for answers with a crucial road trip on the horizon.
Some of those answers began to arrive just three days later, however, when Stephen McCarthy’s 73rd-minute header claimed three points in the Nation’s Capital, while another morale-boosting performance followed in Colorado as Shalrie Joseph’s 90th-minute penalty kick helped the Revs claim a 2-2 draw.
“There was a pretty bad patch there,” said Zack Schilawski, who earned back-to-back starts on the road trip for the first time since April. “Team morale wasn’t very high. So to get a win, a tie, get some points under our belt and get some positive vibes flowing is going to be huge for us and hopefully we can ride it into this game at Kansas City.”
“We went into D.C. with a great game plan, we played that out and got three points there, then we went into a tough environment in Colorado and kind of toughed it out and dug out a point there,” said Barnes. “I feel like the road trip definitely helped the team morale and kind of got spirits and confidence up a little bit.”
With their self-belief on the rise, the Revs will aim to carry that confidence into yet another road game against Sporting Kansas City this weekend before opening the month of August by playing three of their first four games at home.
Against a similarly rejuvenated Kansas City side unbeaten in its last 12 league games (5-0-7), the Revs will once again need to hash out an appropriate game plan as they look to parlay their recent turnaround into an unbeaten streak of their own.
“We have to figure out what’s going to be best for us in order to win the game,” said head coach Steve Nicol. “We’re certainly not going to go there, sit back and let them come at us. We’ll go over what they’re good at and what we think is best for us.”