New England coach Steve Nicol quickly pinpointed the reason for the Revolution's 1-0 defeat in Los Angeles on Saturday night [WATCH HIGHLIGHTS HERE].
In a game in which neither team enjoyed much fluency in the attacking third, New England gave away far too many set piece opportunities, Nicol said.
“We were solid,” Nicol told Fox Soccer Channel after the match. “They didn't cause us too many problems, to be honest. It was all set pieces where they looked dangerous. So if we can eliminate giving silly free kicks away in our third, then we'll be OK.”
One rather sloppy foul led to the only goal of the game after five minutes. Sainey Nyassi impetuously scythed down Galaxy fullback Todd Dunivant on the left touchline as Dunivant posed little threat to deliver a dangerous ball into the penalty area.
Landon Donovan's ensuing free kick located the unmarked Edson Buddle on the edge of the goal area, and the Galaxy striker simply nodded home for his first goal of the campaign.
New England fielded a young side with half of its projected starting XI missing through injury. The Revs started a pair of rookies (Zack Schilawski and Seth Sinovic) and MLS debutant Joseph Niouky as part of an inexperienced lineup. They failed to assert themselves in the first half, but managed to keep the Galaxy at bay with a tight defensive shape and some profligate Galaxy finishing.
Nicol's halftime team talk perked up his side as the Revolution enjoyed its best spell of the match in the 15 minutes after the break. Both opportunities fell to Kheli Dube, but the striker pushed Schliawski's neat square pass around the near post and scuffed a volley attempt inside the penalty area after Chris Tierney's deep diagonal ball.
The Revolution never really mounted a serious threat to level the proceedings for the remained of the match, but Nicol focused on the promising aspects of the match rather than the opening day defeat.
“I said at halftime that we lacked a wee bit of belief in ourselves,” Nicol said. “I think in the second half, we showed a little bit more belief. We created two fantastic chances, which would have and should have got us level. So we're disappointed overall, but there are a lot of positives to be taken out of the game. Hopefully, we'll grow from this.”