KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Consistent themes emerged from the New England Revolution’s 25-day stay in Florida for the MLS is Back Tournament, a journey that ended on Saturday night (or more accurately, early Sunday morning) with a 1-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union in the competition’s Round of 16.
On the positive side New England were one of the tournament’s most resolute defensive teams, conceding just two goals in their four games. They largely stifled their opponents, allowing just 15 shots on target (an average of 3.75 per game), and on the rare occasion goalkeeper Matt Turner was called upon to make a big save, he was up to the challenge.
“We didn’t give up many goals during this tournament,” said Kelyn Rowe, who had a large role to play in central midfield. “I think it’s a credit to Antonio [Delamea], to Andrew [Farrell], to Henry [Kessler] when he came in – he played the last game – and Michael Mancienne, as well as the six and eight that we had every time.
“It’s amazing that we were able to come together this quickly and play this well. We’re going to go back and watch the film, do everything we need to do, but I think there’s many positives we can take.”
Unfortunately the Revs struggled to supplement their dogged defensive efforts with the necessary attacking punch, scoring just twice in Orlando and ending the tournament scoreless in their final 219 minutes. They generated the necessary chances – an average of 16.25 shots per game – but they failed to find the finishing touch.
“I think it’s positive that we created a lot of chances,” said Rowe. “The next part is to finish the chances. That comes with time. It comes with getting to know each other, it comes with playing multiple games and getting those chances. Getting guys like Adam Buksa, like Gustavo Bou, even when Carles [Gil] comes back, [Cristian] Penilla, those guys, get them chances in front of goal. Once they continue, they’re going to have streaks. We’re going to find those streaks for them.”
Although their run in the knockout stages ended abruptly the Revs return to Foxborough having picked up five points in the regular-season standings from one win and two draws, and they’ll now resume training in New England as they prepare for the eventual resumption of the league schedule.
And when the league schedule does resume the Revs will be looking to build upon the performances they put together in the Sunshine State, using the lessons learned to continue improving as a squad.
“I think all the teams will be in the same position. I think we’ll get a couple days off and go back to watching the games, look over the mistakes we made, and train hard,” said Delamea. “I think that’s the only way now to be prepared. Obviously we can’t play any friendly games. We’ll have to do more games inside our team. I think that’s the main focus right now; go back, get some rest, and go back to training.”