When New England trudged into the locker room at halftime of Wednesday night's 4-0 home defeat to Chivas USA, the home side knew it faced a difficult task in the second half.
The Revolution entered the halftime interval down two goals and down one man after Marko Perovic earned his first MLS ejection after 28 minutes.
As he pondered the ramifications of the disastrous first half, Revolution coach Steve Nicol felt his side needed to display its character as it sought to overturn the considerable deficit.
“There's a lot to say about how we went about it [in the first half],” Nicol told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “We have to be realistic. At 2-0 down and a man down at halftime, I don't know too many people who are going to put any money on us winning the game. What we were looking for was some spirit.”
Taking something from the game – if not points, then some measure of self-belief – required trying to push forward and salvage some sort of solace from the game no matter the result, according to Revolution midfielder Chris Tierney.
“It’s hard to forget about these games, but you’ve got to have a short memory – especially with ones like this,” Tierney said. “It didn’t matter - like we said at halftime - it doesn’t matter whether we lose 2-0 or we lose 20-0. If we put ourselves out there and have a little bit of pride, then you can look at yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and move on to the next one.”
Jesus Padilla's goal for the visitors shortly after play resumed could have sapped those emotional reserves and opened the floodgates, but the Revs stemmed the tide after the Red-and-White converted their third goal and did what they could to improve their lot before the final whistle.
While they weren't able to score with 10 men and conceded Blair Gavin's first MLS goal with nine minutes to play, the Revolution showed some heart, according to Tierney.
“Once the half kicked off it felt better, and then they got that third goal,” Tierney said. “Then they get that third goal and the frustration comes through a little bit. You're just trying to make sure that when you have the Revolution shirt on, you're giving everything you have. There's no excuse for walking off the field four-nil. You shouldn't be able to walk at that point. We have to have that mindset going into Columbus. If we do, then we'll do well.”
With the disappointment of their heaviest home defeat since a 5-1 loss to San Jose at the old Foxboro Stadium on June 8, 2001 hopefully behind them, the Revs now face a trip to Columbus on Saturday night to help pick up the pieces.
It won't be easy to respond in a difficult road venue and without Perovic available to help facilitate the attack, but Nicol said his side will have to cope with yet another absence and lean on its second-half response to help provide the foundation for a better overall effort at Crew Stadium.
“We have to,” Nicol said. “That's why the second half was important because we showed some spirit. When you have that, you have a chance. We'll dust ourselves down and get it going for Saturday.”