Revolution’s recent struggles highlight importance of scoring game’s first goal

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – One constant has plagued the New England Revolution throughout the club’s current seven-game losing streak: an inability to score the game’s first goal.

The Revs have fallen behind in the first half of each of their past seven games and have yet to drag themselves back for a result, dropping their record this season to 1-10-1 when conceding the opening goal. Conversely, the Revs are a perfect 6-0-0 when they get on the board first.

Simple math – and common sense – says taking a 1-0 lead gives you a better chance of winning, but there’s significantly more to the equation. The first goal often dictates how a game unfolds because it forces one team to push forward in search of an equalizer, while the other can stay compact and exploit holes on the counterattack.

While the Revs have proven absolutely lethal on the counter this season – as evidenced by five-goal outbursts against Seattle Sounders FC and the Philadelphia Union – they haven’t had the chance to play to their strengths in recent weeks because they’ve continuously fallen into early holes.

“I feel like if we can go out there and get in front early or at least come into halftime 0-0, that’s when we play at our best,” said Darrius Barnes. “These last seven games we haven’t been able to do that. We’ve gotten behind early and that’s just kind of changed our style, changed the way that we like to play.

“We like to dictate the game. Instead, when a team goes up on us, they’re dictating the game, we’re pushing forward and they’re able to sit behind the ball, so it’s difficult.”

Pinpointing why the Revs have consistently fallen behind in recent weeks has proven problematic, particularly because each opening goal has been conceded under different circumstances. But regardless of the reasoning, correcting the issue will rely primarily on simple execution.

“We could sit here and talk about it all day long, but we need to start executing it,” said Teal Bunbury. “I feel like the effort’s been there, but we’re just not getting the results right now.

“Something’s got to change with the group and I think we just have to keep our heads up. If we put our heads down now and start pouting and think the season’s over, we’re just going to keep losing and losing. For us it’s about winning. We’re only as good as our next game, so we have to focus and prepare for that.”