FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – In the past two matches against D.C. United and Toronto FC, the New England Revolution has found itself trailing inside the opening 10 minutes.
The Revs know another slow start on Saturday night against Sporting Kansas City could spell disaster, and they’ve spent much of this week working to correct the issues from recent matches.
“It’s something we address all the time and something we discuss, so when it happens, it’s frustrating,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “As a group, no one wants it to happen. We discuss it not happening. But until you can go an extended period of time without it happening, it’s not corrected, so we’ll continue to address it every time it happens.”
After falling behind to Luis Silva’s eighth-minute goal at RFK Stadium, the Revs did manage to reverse course in the second half and claim a 2-1 victory over D.C. But that’s proven the exception rather than the norm, as the Revs have gone just 1-5-1 in games they’ve conceded the first goal. That includes last weekend’s 1-0 loss to TFC after allowing Matias Laba to open the scoring in just the second minute.
On the other hand, New England is 7-3-1 when scoring the first goal, so the old cliché about the first goal being crucial rings especially true.
Heaps and his staff do what they can to mentally prepare the players for the start of every match, but according to left back Chris Tierney, the ultimate responsibility for being switched on from the start falls to those on the field.
“It comes down to us as players starting the game well and making smart decisions off the bat,” he said. “We definitely have to do that against a top team like Kansas City, where if you concede an early goal and have to chase the game on the road, it’s always going to be very difficult.”
Center back Stephen McCarthy takes every goal the Revolution concedes personally, and after stewing over early goals against the past two weeks, he’s adamant the Revs will be better on Saturday night.
“We’re not going to do it again,” he said. “Two games is too many. It’s mental, because you’re obviously not physically tired at the beginning of the game. It’s mental. It’s all mental. Simple things you have to change and we will. It’s not going to happen again.”