FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – When the LA Galaxy kicked off the 2011 Major League Soccer schedule this past Tuesday night against Seattle Sounders FC, the New England Revolution had a chance to do a bit of advanced scouting.
The Revs will open their season against the Galaxy on Sunday, March 20, when the teams square off at The Home Depot Center (8 p.m. ET, Comcast SportsNet New England/Galavision), so the crew in Foxborough was watching closely as LA secured a 1-0 win and quieted the raucous 36,000 fans at Qwest Field.
Although the Galaxy now returns to its hometown crowd in southern California with a bit of momentum, the Revs appear undaunted by the task which awaits them this weekend.
“It’s a tough test,” admitted Chris Tierney, who split his time between left back and left midfield throughout the preseason. “But we’re not going to go there in awe of them at all.
“They’re a dangerous team, for sure, but they’re a team I think we match up pretty well with and we’ve had decent results against them in recent history,” he continued. “We’ll go out there confident and we’re looking to get a result.”
Head coach Steve Nicol believes the Revolution’s best chance to earn the desired result is to take the field with an attacking mindset. Rather than soak up pressure and attempt to hit on the counter – an approach many teams employ on the road – Nicol wants his side to spend its time pushing forward rather than sitting back.
“We think we have a fairly positive way of playing on Sunday,” he said. “We don’t want to go there and defend. We want to go there and try to put some pressure on them, worry about ourselves and get ourselves playing.”
Nicol reiterated his point by noting that the more time a team spends attacking, the less time it spends defending. For a team which conceded a league-high 50 goals last season, lessened strain on the backline could be vital.
“We really want to take the pressure off the defense,” Nicol said. “I think being under pressure defensively certainly limits the amount of time you spend up the other end of the field.”
The Revs focused much of their energy this preseason on improving in possession, which will not only ease the burden on the defenders, but also create time for the midfielders and forwards to generate scoring chances.
While there is still work to be done in that department, the Revolution began to reap the rewards of a possession-oriented style of play this preseason as the club scored at least once in all six of its exhibition matches.
“In preseason we stressed a lot on creating chances and trying to get numbers in the box,” said Shalrie Joseph. “I think with our team we’re going to stress a little bit more ball possession and taking care of the ball. If we move off the ball and work together, I think it’s going to help us a lot in terms of what we’re trying to do offensively.”