Nicol rues passing struggles in Portland draw

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution’s 1-1 draw with the expansion Portland Timbers on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium kept the Revs unbeaten on the young season, but the postgame sentiment revealed the result felt more like two points lost than one point gained.

Riding a wave of confidence following last weekend’s 2-1 win over D.C. United, the Revs entered Saturday night’s match eager to claim a second consecutive victory, but a spirited Portland side provided a stiff test and will now head back to the Pacific Northwest with its first MLS point in tow.

“Disappointing is a good word,” said forward Zack Schilawski. “I think everyone in the locker room’s a little disappointed right now. (We were) hoping to get three points out of that one and unfortunately it just didn’t work out for us.”

Midway through the first half it looked like it would work out for the Revs, who took a 22nd-minute lead courtesy of Stephen McCarthy’s first career goal. It was the third straight game in which the Revolution scored first, but Timbers’ captain Jack Jewsbury equalized in the 38th minute and neither side was able to break through in a back-and-forth second half.

“I thought we started well (and) scored a nice goal,” said Schilawski. “Their goal, their response was probably the big turning point in the game. I thought we were still getting chances, we were still pressing them a little bit and then they got kind of a weird goal … We never really responded the way we needed to win.”

According to head coach Steve Nicol, the Revolution’s inability to respond came down to their struggles in one of the game’s simplest tasks.

“We just didn’t have any passing,” he said. “Let’s be honest – very few times did we actually put three or four passes together. Any time we did, we actually nearly created things. But it was few and far between. It certainly wasn’t regular enough.

“We didn’t pass the ball well at all,” Nicol reiterated. “When you don’t, you’re going to struggle.”

McCarthy claimed the Revolution’s inefficient passing was a result of being a bit overeager.

“I felt like we were just impatient, just trying to play that perfect ball when we should have just been playing separate passes,” he said. “I think that’s what we do and that’s what we’re good at, and we just didn’t do that today.”

With a cross-country trip north of the border to face the Vancouver Whitecaps on tap for early next week, the Revs will have very little time to dwell on Saturday’s result. Instead, they’ll have to take the positives from their still unbeaten record as they look to maintain their solid start in the Pacific Northwest.

“We can’t hang our heads too long about this one,” said central midfielder Pat Phelan. “We have to take care of our bodies [on Sunday] and it’s out west on Monday.”