“We win together, we lose together, we tie together” | Williams, Romney and Harkes reflect on Austin draw

9_2_23 Group goal celebration

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Revolution assistant coach Richie Williams, defender Dave Romney and midfielder Ian Harkes assert the Revs will learn from Saturday’s frustrating 2-2 draw against Austin FC.

A Tomás Chancalay double – his first goals for the club – had set the home side on the way to victory at Gillette Stadium, after Emiliano Rigoni had opened the scoring, but an injury-time Alexander Ring strike salvaged a dramatic point, as the visitors capitalized on a late turnover with the hosts chasing a third goal.

Though disappointed not to have held on for a second straight home win of the week, the trio insist the squad will heed the lessons from the setback.

“We played well enough to get three points,” Williams admitted. “At the end of the game, we didn’t manage the game correctly – all we had to do was dribble the ball to the corner and kill time on the clock. We shouldn’t be shooting the ball on goal at that moment.

“At the end of the day, it’s a mistake. We win together, we lose together, and we tie together.

“I think we definitely were the better team, but respect to Austin, they have a good team. They had some good moments and scored the first goal.

“We had a great reaction to get the goal back, and we came out in the second half and got the second goal. I think we created enough opportunities to get a couple more goals and defended well, even though the first goal for them was basically the first chance on goal.

“Overall, I do think [we were the better team] but ultimately, we didn’t [win], and we just got a point where we should have gotten three.

“We just have to learn from that: game management. We do talk about that on a regular basis, in terms of how to manage a game throughout the game – at the beginning of the game, before halftime, at the start of the second half, and in different situations and scenarios.

“We do talk about it, and we have to learn from it. We still got a point, and I thought we still played well.”

Despite the stalemate, the clash marked a game to remember for Chancalay, who bagged his first New England goals on his second start for the club.

The Argentine winger leveled the game with a well-taken first-time finish from Harkes’ delivery, and doubled his personal tally shortly after the break, heading home Nacho Gil’s cross at the back post to put the hosts ahead – and Williams was full of praise for the new recruit.

“[Chancalay] did great,” he hailed. “He’s playing really well. He scored two big goals for us and he’s adjusting well, he’s fitting in.

“He got off to a little bit of a slow start – he hadn’t played in a long time, and he came back and picked up a little bit of an injury – but he’s slowly getting better each game, and he really helped us offensively tonight with two goals.

“Nacho did well, too. He got an assist on the goal, and he brings a lot to the attack. He also works hard defensively, he’s very feisty and he’s done a good job for us.

“He got tired at the end. We’re still trying to get his fitness back and it was the same with Tomás. Tomás was able to go a little bit longer, but [Nacho] has definitely been a helpful addition to our team.”

A mainstay in a much-changed Revs defensive backline, center back Romney has clocked every minute of MLS and Leagues Cup action this term.

While naturally frustrated to have surrendered the lead late on, the defender was pleased to welcome back Andrew Farrell to the starting XI after a two-game absence, with Brandon Bye, DeJuan Jones and Ryan Spaulding also having suffered recent injury blows.

“It’s huge [to have Farrell back],” he said. “I love Andrew. He's a great team leader, a great morale guy, and so it's always nice to have him back in the lineup. Everybody knows how good he is on the field, as well – besides the emotional energy he brings to the group.

“I don't know what the long-term plan [for right back cover] is but I'm honestly not worried about who is going to step in there. We have tons of depth. I know we have tons of good guys who can play that position, so I'm not too worried long-term.

“Obviously, it'd be nice to have Brandon back because he's such a threat going forward, very solid defensively, but I trust in our group.

“We had stretches where we were playing well, stretches where we didn't play that well. We gave away kind of two soft goals.

“It’s frustrating to give up a goal that late [as well as] another one we gave up in Montreal, so it's kind of two games in this three-game week that we kind of just let down late, and those are so draining to the team – but we just have to pick ourselves up.

“You think you have the win in the bag, you're almost there to the finish line, and then it just gets kind of ripped away from you.

“We know we have three road games coming up, so [we have to] get as many points as we can on that.”

Falling behind to Rigoni’s looping effort on 27 minutes, the Revolution struck back within a minute, before Chancalay nodded the hosts ahead two minutes after the restart.

Harkes, who ignited the comeback with his cross into the Argentine winger for the equalizer, was proud of the response but felt the fatigue of a three-game week may have taken its toll.

“I think Austin really did a good job of spreading us out throughout the game,” he noted. “They had really good spacing, and they were keeping the ball well, but we made some adjustments. We needed to get a little bit higher, press them, and we turned them over in good spots.

“Tomás did excellent with his chances, with his goals.  We had a good response right away from them scoring for us to get back in the game, and we just needed to manage it better at the end.

“[The key to the response] was just keeping the spirit alive. Obviously, at home, we want to get back on the front foot right away, and I don't know how long it was, but obviously it was good – Carles [Gil] finding me in that space; Tomás made a great run, and Giacomo [Vrioni] made a great run across the face. It was a good goal to get back.

“It is definitely a learning experience, but we should be at the stage now that we're seasoned pros. We need to have that experience, we need to see those games and those moments out, and get the three points.

“[Legs] are definitely going to be heavy, especially with the games that we've had. [New York] Red Bulls run all over the place, press us, and it was a hard-fought match on Wednesday, and before that, [we had] last Saturday [at Montreal] so, it was a quick turnaround – but I think the guys did well.

“We thought there were times in the game where they kind of had momentum and it flipped back to us, so we had to just manage it. They’re just natural swings in the game, and there were times where they had good possession and we were maybe working a little bit too hard, and we got our shape right a little bit better and got back on the ball.

“And there were spells in the second half where we needed to control it a bit more. We were going a bit longer, and they were winning second balls and keeping the attacks going. We'll take a look at it and learn from it.”

Embarking on a three-game road stretch, New England will look to pick themselves up with sights set on retaining second spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Revs travel to Minnesota United FC next weekend, eager to bounce back – and both Romney and Harkes called upon their teammates to pull together once more and demonstrate the resilience that has served them well this term.

“We’re going to need everyone,” Harked stated. “We’re going to some tough places. We need to have a strong mentality.

“We’re continuing to grow as a group. We’ve had some really good moments. It kind of buffered a little bit with Leagues Cup – it was a little bit different – but we had good momentum in that, as well.

“We need to continue to improve in many different directions and take it onto the road.”

Echoing the sentiments, Romney insists the squad can draw upon their experience, having shown their battling qualities during difficult moments throughout the campaign.

“I think [we respond] exceptionally well,” he declared. “We've had a couple of horrible games where we've gotten battered, and we're still second still second in table, so it shows our resilience.

“We know it’s hard to get points on the road in MLS. [We] hold our hats on the fact we still have a game in hand I guess on most of the league, besides Philly [Union]. We just have to keep grinding and make the most of our home games, as we've done for the most part this year, and just try to survive on the road, and steal a couple points.

“[Richie said there were] positives and negatives to take away from [Saturday]. There were a couple of things he thought we did really well, a couple things we need to clean up on – but we win together, we tie together, we lose together so we don’t get too down.

“Our group Is very resilient, and I trust we’re going to do the same thing in the next road games.”

Williams agreed: “We just need to keep our heads up because now we’re going to go on the road for three games, and there’s not going to be an easy game – [we’re facing] good teams on the road.

“We just have to get ready and get rested up, continuing to get guys back from injuries, and then be ready to go on the road and compete together as a team and try to get positive results.”