NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The New England Revolution got the 2021 season off to a fast start with seven points from their first three games, but it was a slow start that set them back on Saturday afternoon at Nissan Stadium, where they suffered their first loss of the campaign, 2-0, to Nashville SC.
The visitors were pinned back for large portions of the opening half-hour and found themselves trailing 1-0 in the 25th minute when C.J Sapong latched onto a knockdown header from Walker Zimmerman. It was the first time the Revs had trailed since the first half of the season opener in Chicago.
Despite an improved second half which saw an Adam Buksa goal negated by a narrow offside decision before the Polish striker later hit woodwork with a header, a poor giveaway in the defensive end provided Nashville an insurance goal in the 75th minute and ultimately left the Revs ruing their sluggish start.
“First half, I think in the field, we were probably outplayed in nine of the 10 positions over the first 30 to 35 minutes of the half,” said head coach Bruce Arena. “It got better in the second half, so that was encouraging. I thought the players we brought in the game helped us.”
Arena mentioned second-half substitutes Edward Kizza, Wilfrid Kaptoum, and Brandon Bye as bright spots through the final stages, and that trio could see more minutes as the Revs will play midweek in Philadelphia before a nationally-televised meeting with Columbus Crew SC next weekend.
Personnel changes could determine what type of formation the Revs use in those matches – they’ve deployed 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1, and 3-5-2 setups at various times through the first four games – but Arena was quick to point out that formations don’t determine sharpness on the ball.
“We’re better suited to play better soccer,” Arena said when asked which formation suits the Revs best. “If we’re not playing well, the formation doesn’t matter. Over time, we’ll see what’s the best formation for our team, but the issues in the first 30 minutes of the game had nothing to do with our formation, it had to do with our play.”
A better start will be paramount when the Revs visit the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday night at Subaru Park, where they ended the Union’s 2020 season in the playoffs last November. And although it’ll be a quick turnaround, the Revs are thankful for the opportunity to put Saturday’s performance behind them in short order.
“I think what we can take from (Saturday) is if we don’t start well, any team can beat you in the league. We’ve got to make sure we start better,” said Andrew Farrell. “(We’ll) move on and get ready for (Philadelphia), but obviously look at what we can do to improve and start better. And that comes from the leaders on the team. We’ve got to get everybody ready to go and be ready to compete.”