Best of 2010: Head Coach Steve Nicol
Keith Nordstrom

Final two games offer chance to eliminate mistakes


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Last weekend’s 2-1 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes felt all too familiar for the New England Revolution.
For the third straight game, the Revs approached the match with an attacking mindset and ultimately outshot their opponent – in this case by a margin of 18 to 14 – only to squander the chances they created and witness a pair of defensive mistakes result in two goals conceded. Remarkably, the result dropped the Revolution’s record this season to 0-6-5 when outshooting the opponent.
Despite playing their first match since officially being eliminated from playoff contention, head coach Steve Nicol said it wasn’t lack of impetus which proved the Revs’ downfall, but instead the same occasional lapses which have plagued them all season.
“It’s not a case of motivation, to be honest; it’s people making mistakes,” Nicol said. “We certainly had four or five occasions in which we might have scored and we could be sitting here with four or five goals behind us, but we haven’t. And we’ve lost the game because we make basic errors defensively.
“What else do you say?” Nicol asked rhetorically. “It’s kind of been the same story for most of the season. We’ve done the same things. We’ve made chances, not taken them and then given up bad goals and we end up losing games.”
Particularly troublesome for the Revs has been the timing of their defensive errors. Against San Jose, the Revs fell into an early hole when Chris Wondolowski latched onto rookie goalkeeper David Bingham’s 75-yard pass and scored his 13th goal of the season in the eighth minute. It marked the third time in their last four games the Revs fell behind inside 10 minutes.
Benny Feilhaber’s acrobatic 55th-minute goal pulled the Revolution level shortly after the halftime break and the home side looked the more likely to grab a winner as Milton Caraglio and Diego Fagundez both went close, but a momentary lapse allowed the Earthquakes to hit on the counter as Wondolowski notched his second goal of the game – and league-leading 14th of the season – in the 82nd minute to secure the points for San Jose. It was the 14th goal the Revs have conceded this season after the 75th minute, a figure which leads the league.
“Throughout the season, you can see that the effort is there,” said goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth, who made his fifth start of 2011 against San Jose in place of the injured Matt Reis. “Everyone is really busting their tails, guys are giving 100 percent effort all the time and the passion is there. It’s just mental lapses at important times that have really killed us this year. That’s what we have to focus on these last two games: not giving away one or two mental errors that cost us goals that we end up losing the game on.”
As Shuttleworth noted, the Revs have a pair of games remaining on the 2011 schedule – at home against the Columbus Crew (Oct. 15) and on the road at Toronto FC (Oct. 22) – and the primary objective will be cutting out the mistakes which have proven so costly this season.
“Unfortunately, things seem to be continuing down the road they’ve been going,” said Ryan Guy. “But (we have) a couple games left and still some time to show what we’re made of and what we’ve got.”