ORLANDO, Fla. – All things considered, the final score of Friday night’s preseason match between the New England Revolution and University of Central Florida was never going to be of paramount importance.
With that said, no one on the Revs side was complaining about the result following their 2-0 win over the Knights.
“It’s always good to win,” said head coach Steve Nicol. “I think it’s good for everybody when you get a ‘W’ on the board.”
Of course, preseason victories don’t count for points in the standings, so of more significance was the performance from top to bottom as the Revs prepare for the 2011 regular-season opener against the LA Galaxy on March 20.
As expected at this point in the preseason preparations, Nicol was pleased with some elements of the performance while other areas still left room for improvement in the coming weeks.
“At times in the game we were good with the ball,” he said. “But other times we were pretty slack [in possession], so that’s something we certainly need to work on and make sure, come the start of the season, we’re better.”
Rookie Ryan Kinne – who earned the start at right midfield and scored the game-winning goal in the 36th minute – agreed the Revs showed promise, but at this stage aren’t yet a finished product.
“I thought we had flashes where we were pretty good,” said Kinne, who is currently unsigned and is aiming to earn a roster spot for the upcoming season. “At times we looked good, (and) at times there were definitely things we can improve upon.”
Kinne was one of two Revolution draft picks to be penciled into the starting lineup on Friday night, as top overall pick A.J. Soares started alongside third-year defender Darrius Barnes in central defense. Soares is an integral part of the Revs’ revamped backline, which also included Didier Domi as the starting left back and featured a substitute appearance by offseason acquisition Ryan Cochrane.
More defensive reinforcements are on the way in the form of Argentine center back Franco Coria, but Soares was nonetheless pleased with what he saw on Friday night as the Revs limited the Knights to just two shots on goal.
“I thought the backline looked good,” he said. “There was good communication, which was probably the most important thing. (This was) the first time we were all together playing against different opposition, players we didn’t know.
“The communication was good, (we had) good camaraderie back there,” Soares continued. “Everyone was working hard for each other, covering for each other, getting each other’s backs and passing the ball out with each other. It looked good.”
With both positives and negatives to take from Friday night’s performance, the Revs now look ahead to Monday morning’s meeting with the U.S. Under-17 National Team and another chance to further their progression.
“The biggest thing for me is always what we do with the ball,” said Nicol. “If we’re tight in possession with the ball, look after each other better and give each other better passes, then we’ll end up doing better in the game. We’ll get more chances and hopefully we’ll score more goals, so that’s the biggest thing that we really need to tie down.”