FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Goals have been hard to come by for the New England Revolution in recent weeks.
The Revs have scored just once during their current three-game losing streak and have registered just five goals through seven games, tied with the Philadelphia Union for the second-worst goal-scoring record in the league. Three of those five goals came in one match – the 3-1 win over the LA Galaxy on March 31 – and the Revs have been shut out four times.
But the dearth of goals hasn’t been for lack of trying. The Revs have steadily increased their possession stats in recent weeks and have found little difficulty creating chances as they enter the week ranked seventh in the league in shots on goal. The problem has been turning the possession and scoring chances into tangible results.
“I feel like we’ve been a little bit unlucky; I think unlucky is the word,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “Defensively we’ve held strong. We’ve done some things that I’d like to get back, but we can’t, so we have to improve upon (the mistakes). But offensively, I think if we can just be a little bit more active, (have) a little bit more movement inside the 18.
“We can break teams down; we can,” Heaps added. “But I’d like to see us maybe take advantage of some crosses and try to use some of the size we have.”
This past weekend’s 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls was a prime example of the Revolution’s recent woes. New England carried almost 60 percent of the possession and completed better than 80 percent of its passes, turning the advantage into five quality shots on target. Profligacy in front of goal was exacerbated, however, by the determination of rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara, who stopped all five shots to record his first career shutout.
But an old adage states that players would always rather be creating chances and squandering them than not creating them at all, and in that sense the Revs have reason to be optimistic. There’s a sense in Revolution camp that the goals aren’t far off, and once they come, they could come in waves.
“Eventually the floodgates are going to open,” said captain Shalrie Joseph. “We’ve been doing well possessing the ball and creating chances. I think on Wednesday (against Colorado) … we’ve got to score early and that’s going to allow us to relax and play a little bit more of our style.”
“The positive thing is we are creating chances,” echoed Lee Nguyen, whose stoppage time drive against New York came closest to beating Meara. “Once we start putting them away, I think it’s just a matter of time.”
A few slight alterations in the attacking third could be all the Revs need to turn the tide, and for the most part the players are confident that the wisest approach is to press on without letting the recent struggles go to their heads.
“We just have to stay positive,” said Joseph. “I think the more chances we create, we’re going to eventually break them down and score a goal. We just have to stay positive. That’s the bottom line.”