FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution spent some time on Tuesday morning watching clips of last weekend’s 5-0 victory over Seattle Sounders FC, but the point of the exercise wasn’t to simply admire the performance. Instead, head coach Jay Heaps used the weekly film session to point out areas in which the Revs still require improvement moving forward.
Unbeaten in five (4-0-1) and winners of three straight, confidence is no doubt flowing through the Revolution’s locker room ahead of this weekend’s visit to the Philadelphia Union. But the Revs know just how quickly fortunes can change in MLS if there’s even an ounce of complacency, so they’re keeping their heads down and their focus fixed on the task at hand.
“I think in this league, consistency is the biggest challenge of any team; to try to win week in and week out,” said Darrius Barnes. “That’s something this team is striving to do. To be one of the better teams in the league, you’ve got to go in and prove it week in and week out.”
The Revs have been proving their mettle in recent weeks, outscoring opponents by a margin of 12-2 during their current five-game unbeaten streak. That run of form has seen the Revs climb into a first-place tie with Sporting Kansas City in the Eastern Conference standings, and they can claim sole possession of the top spot – at least temporarily – with a win or draw this weekend.
But there are no awards for being top dogs in mid-May. Points are at a premium and victories at this stage of the season can be critical during a late-season playoff push, but it’s sustained success throughout an entire season which separates the truly elite from the rest of the league.
“We talk about taking it a game at a time and I think that’s what’s most important for us; take the positives from the previous result, but realize that we haven’t accomplished anything yet,” said goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth, who has yet to concede a goal in four home matches this season. “We have a long season in front of us and we need to take this game as if it was the first game.”
The game to which Shuttleworth refers is Saturday night’s meeting with the Union, which snapped a club-record nine-game winless run with a midweek victory over Sporting KC. While the Revs and Union have been headed in opposite directions recently, PPL Park has always been a difficult venue for New England and they’ll need another top-notch performance this weekend to come home with points in hand.
“I think everybody knows that the first thing we need to do is work hard when we step on the field,” said Shuttleworth. “Philadelphia’s been a place that we’ve struggled to get results and everybody knows that. I think we’ll be ready to play. I think the guys are rolling a bit and we need to keep that going.”