FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – As the New England Revolution has struggled to score goals through the early part of the 2013 season, so, too, have the club’s opponents.
Despite scoring just one goal through the season’s first month, the Revs have been buoyed by a league-leading defense which has conceded just two goals through five games. But while the team has been thrilled with its stout defensive performances, the Revs are being cautious not to rely too heavily on their defensive strength.
“You can’t lean on them because then it’s all defense,” said Kelyn Rowe. “Then we’re just sitting back, 10 guys behind the ball in our own half, and that’s not something we want. We emphasize in practice that we want to get forward and we want to get chances. We want to get balls to the forwards, get some crosses in and score some goals.”
Not only do the Revs need to create chances to score goals – and ultimately win games – but they also know that sustained possession and a persistent attack can take a bit of the strain off the backline. According to statistics provided by Opta, the Revs have been out-possessed in four of their first five games, but relentless team defense and timely goalkeeping have kept opponents at bay.
Clyde Simms knows that trend can’t continue for much longer.
“It’s a good thing that we know [our defense] is good, but at the same time, if you’re under pressure an entire game – like we were in Seattle – it’s going to break eventually,” he said. “We need to put teams on their heels. We have the talent to do so, to keep the ball and get guys in good positions to create scoring opportunities. We just have to keep pushing, keep working.”
Head coach Jay Heaps had a mixed reaction to last weekend’s 0-0 draw at CenturyLink Field, once again praising his side’s defensive work while lamenting its offensive struggles. As the Revolution’s technical staff prepares for another test this weekend at Red Bull Arena, they’ve vowed to keep tinkering until it comes together.
“We were not good enough offensively (against Seattle), but defensively we really put the work in and I think you’ve got to take that as a positive in some light and get better in the other,” Heaps said. “I think there’s some improvement that we need to make and a couple changes that we need to get the chemistry right. We’ll continue to try to find the right combinations.”