Jose Goncalves vs. D.C. United
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Center backs earn praise as Revs keep first clean sheet in 0-0 draw with D.C.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Revolution head coach Jay Heaps praised his center back pairing of Jose Goncalves and Andrew Farrell on Saturday afternoon after the duo played a key role in earning the Revs their first shutout of the season in a 0-0 draw with D.C. United.

After conceding three goals in last weekend’s season opener against the Houston Dynamo the Revs were well prepared to deal with a compact United side that sits deep and hits on the counter.

“We needed our center backs to be diligent,” said Heaps. “D.C. does a good job countering, so we had to make sure; if you’re organized and you’re dealing with it before it happens, you’re in a much better place. So we were proactive, not reactive, and I thought Jose and Farrell did a great job.”

New England limited D.C. to just two shots on target, both in the first half and neither of which troubled goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth, who kept the 30th clean sheet of his MLS career.

“You have to be very patient when you play a team like that who is just waiting for you to make a mistake and then counter,” said Goncalves. “I think we did pretty well. We made just a few mistakes … We kept going forward and we created a lot of chances. We just need to finish them.”

Because of United’s tendency to counter, New England’s defensive shape needed to be perfect when the Revs were in possession. It required plenty of patience, as the hosts were careful not to pull themselves out of their shape with their movement.

“It was one of those games where we just had to be patient and know that there’s going to be chances that come, but don’t force anything,” said Lee Nguyen, who came closest to scoring when his 55th-minute chance shook the crossbar. “We knew they wanted to try to break on the counter, so [we had to] eliminate chances for them to break.”

The Revolution’s patient attack didn’t only help them maintain their shape, it also generated a series of quality scoring chances. Beyond Nguyen’s chance that hit the woodwork, Goncalves bounced a first-half header over the bar from six yards and Kelyn Rowe went inches wide with a last-gasp chance in the second minute of stoppage time.

“It was just one of those games where one of them didn’t fall for us today,” said Nguyen. “I hit the crossbar and Kelyn was a couple inches wide at the end. For us, when those go in, it’s three or four to zero. If not, then it’s 0-0.”