Confidence boost critical as Portland looms

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution found itself in an eerily familiar situation last weekend against FC Dallas.

Clinging to a narrow one-goal lead entering the game’s closing stages, the Revs could be forgiven for allowing thoughts of their previous four matches – in each of which they conceded second-half leads – to creep into their consciousness.

But this time was different. The Revs remained on the front foot and pressured Dallas coming out of the back, goalkeeper Matt Reis made key saves at critical moments and Rajko Lekic added a killer second goal as the Revolution snapped a lengthy winless run with a 2-0 victory.

“I think it does a lot for our confidence,” said Chris Tierney, who’s tied for the team lead with four assists. “We’ve been playing really well lately. I think we’ve been unlucky not to pick up more points. But we’re happy with the way we’re going forward and scoring goals, and just getting those first three points on the board in awhile is definitely going to help our confidence.”

Particularly important for the Revs was the method in which they claimed victory, exorcising their recent demons by turning an early lead into three points. Shalrie Joseph’s 14th-minute goal marked the 10th time in their last 12 matches in which the Revs scored the first goal, but it was just the second time in which they were able to capitalize with a win.

The boost New England received from its slump-busting victory keeps the club within sight of the postseason, but more importantly it provides the Revs with an injection of self-belief as they prepare to visit the Portland Timbers at the typically raucous JELD-WEN Field on Friday night.

“We needed that win, especially being 1-0 up and being able to hold on in such a hard game against one of the better teams in the league,” said Joseph. “It helps our confidence and it helps us going into Portland (knowing) that we can definitely hang onto a lead and definitely be a better team if we do what we need to do.”

Knowing they possess the ability to maintain a slender lead could prove vital for the Revs in Portland, where they hope to once again wrest control of the proceedings in the early stages and limit the crowd’s involvement from the outset.

“We’ve played well on the road recently,” said Tierney. “We’ve scored a lot of goals so hopefully we can get a couple early ones, silence them and take them out of the game.”

“I think it’s important that we jump on them even though we’re the road team,” Joseph echoed. “They’re in a desperate situation, too, so they’re going to be pushing a lot of numbers forward and they’re going to be trying to score early just as we’re going to try to do. If we can get that early goal and create opportunities, I think we’re going to get those points that we need.”