FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Improvement is about recognizing issues and correcting them.
New England Revolution head coach Jay Heaps has taken the first step and identified the issue which has plagued his side the past two games, when a pair of halftime leads evaporated into a 2-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls and a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers.
On both occasions it was a lethargic start to the second half which sealed New England’s fate, as all three goals the Revs conceded in the past two games were scored within 20 minutes of the restart.
“That 20 minutes right after half is a critical time in the game and the last two games, we haven’t been good enough in that time frame,” said Heaps. “We’ve lost basically five points in that stretch.”
The next step, of course, is correcting the issue, which the Revs will next have the opportunity to do on Saturday night when they continue their homestand by hosting Chivas USA.
It’s as much a mental issue as anything else, said Lee Nguyen, who believes the Revs need to maintain an attacking mindset even when they do manage to build a one-goal lead in the early stages.
“It’s been great that we’ve been able to get the first goal the past couple games, but we’ve got to keep that mentality going,” he said. “Now it’s just tightening the screws towards the end of the game and trying to keep it tight in the back. But at the same time, we’ve got to punish them when we get the opportunity.”
New England’s last two results have dropped the club’s record to 7-1-1 when scoring the first goal this season, but there’s a critical difference which separates the seven wins from the loss and draw. In all seven wins, the Revs have managed to find a second goal to kill the game. The only two occasions in which they haven’t done so have been the past two games against New York and Portland.
“That second goal is always crucial,” said Charlie Davies, who has scored the goal to put the Revolution ahead in each of the last two matches. “But with that being said, a one-goal lead at home should be good enough to get three points.
“We’re learning as we go and we get better as we go, and I think we’ve taken big steps, especially from that big drought we had in the middle of the season. We’re looking forward to Saturday.”