FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Riding the momentum of back-to-back wins and sparked by a resurgent attack which had scored three goals in consecutive games, the New England Revolution was a confident bunch heading into last weekend’s meeting with Chivas USA.
As it turns out, perhaps a bit too confident.
The Revs stumbled out of the gates at The Home Depot Center and never recovered en route to a 3-0 loss, allowing the Goats to impose their will on the game from start to finish. Head coach Steve Nicol – who noted an inability to win individual battles as a primary factor in the Revolution’s subpar performance against Chivas USA – believes his side was a bit too quick to buy into the hype following a 3-2 win over Sporting Kansas City.
“I think too many of us were listening to all the praise that we got after the Kansas City game, which I think contributed to the performance that we had against Chivas,” said Nicol. “We’ve kind of spoken (to the players) about that, so we’re pretty sure that isn’t going to happen on Saturday.”
Humbled by their convincing setback in Los Angeles, the Revs must now regroup with a critical pair of back-to-back home games on tap to open the month of May. The brief home-stand begins on Saturday, May 7, when the defending MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids come to Foxborough looking to snap an uncharacteristic four-game winless streak.
According to rookie defender A.J. Soares, a more focused attitude is priority number one against the Rapids.
“I think the biggest adjustment (we need to make) is just our mentality going into the game,” he said. “We had come off two wins and I think we were overconfident going into [the Chivas] game. We just need to go into this next game against the Rapids (and get) back to how we were doing it – fighting every game, fighting for every play.
“We thought we have the ability, but we thought that prematurely,” Soares continued. “Before anything, you have to fight. You have to work hard, regardless of what talent you have on the field.”
A steady resolve will be particularly important against the Rapids, a physical side which uses its size and strength to overpower opponents. The battle often begins and ends in midfield, but every 50-50 ball – regardless of where it takes place on the field – will be hotly contested this weekend at Gillette Stadium.
In Nicol’s eyes, how his side responds to that challenge will dictate whether the Revolution submits a performance similar to the victory over Sporting KC, or the loss to Chivas USA.
“We need to win the fight to begin the game,” said Nicol. “You don’t just walk on the field, start rolling the ball around and play. Teams don’t let you do that. You have to win the battle first, and then you win the right to play.”