Revolution credits United’s high-pressure tactics, grit for shutting them down

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Revolution head coach Jay Heaps likes to give credit where credit is due.

Sometimes credit is due to the opponent.

After Saturday night’s 0-0 draw with Eastern Conference strugglers D.C. United, Heaps credited D.C. head coach Ben Olsen’s high-pressure tactics and United’s grit in shutting down the Revolution’s recently potent attack.

“We all know D.C.’s a tough team and I think tonight they really showed some real grit,” Heaps said. “They didn’t give us much at all. We tried to take a little bit, but Bill Hamid made a couple good saves. In the end, we’re not thrilled, but at the same time I think we were up against a hell of a team tonight.”

The current standings show D.C. at the bottom of the heap with just one win from the opening 14 matches, compounded by a club-record 12-game winless run which has been ongoing since March.

But United reached the Eastern Conference championship series just last season and still features many of the pieces which guided the club to the brink of an MLS Cup appearance in 2012. That’s the club the Revs prepared for on Saturday night and for stretches, that’s the side they encountered.

“We talked about it all week that D.C.’s a good opponent,” said Chris Tierney, who came closest to scoring when he struck the outside of the post midway through the second half. “We were well aware of how good their team can be and we know as well as anyone how tough it can be when you’re struggling like they are and how desperate they were going to be. So we knew and were prepared for the fact that it was going to be a difficult game and it was.”

Still, the Revs were far from satisfied with taking just one point, despite keeping their fourth straight clean sheet and establishing a new club-record shutout streak at 395 minutes. Heaps called the Revolution’s passing in the final third “a little bit off” and said his side’s spacing was too tight, areas he’ll no doubt focus on in training ahead of Wednesday night’s U.S. Open Cup meeting with the New York Red Bulls.

But Heaps also reiterated that the opponent deserved much of the credit for the Revolution’s struggles.

“That’s a good team,” he said. “Now, am I saying that we’re at home and we should’ve done better? Yes. But they played well tonight.”