HARRISON, N.J. – Just like they were last Wednesday night in San Jose, the New England Revolution were resolute defensively on Sunday afternoon at Red Bull Arena. But just like they were in San Jose, the Revs were frustrated by their inability to find an offensive spark in a 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls.
The Revs have now been shut out in four straight league games and have scored just three times in their last eight regular-season matches, a run that’s confounding for such a talented attacking corps.
“It’s frustrating for everybody, because we pride ourselves on being a team that can finish,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “The last four games have just not been good enough.”
“It felt like we had a good rhythm last game in San Jose. We just didn’t have that today,” said Lee Nguyen. “It’s tough when the ball’s not flowing. That’s part of the game – when you get a rhythm, it takes pressure off the defense. When you can’t have that, basically you’re just defending for your life.”
Oddly enough the Revs conceded on Sunday afternoon just when it looked like they were finding that rhythm. After a lackluster first half New England came out of the break sharp, putting the hosts on the back foot and generating their first real attacking thrust of the game.
But a poor defensive sequence led to a breakdown in the 55th minute. Alex Muyl took the ball off Jose Goncalves inside the box and fired a shot on target that goalkeeper Brad Knighton could only parry away. Bradley Wright-Phillips pounced on the rebound to bury his 16th goal of the season from close range.
It was a goal that took the wind out of New England’s sails just as they were coming to life.
“It was a tough goal to give up,” said Heaps. “New York’s a really good team, so when they break you down, you can understand it. But when you play into their hands – part of our game plan was not to do that … I felt like we had a good performance overall, but to give up that goal was hard.”
The Revolution’s task won’t get any easier next weekend when they’ll welcome the Colorado Rapids to Gillette Stadium. Colorado boasts the league’s best defensive record, having conceded just 22 goals through 25 games.
New England will need to find a way to break their scoring duck against the resolute Rapids, however, as they’ve slipped five points back of the East’s final playoff spot with just seven games remaining.
“A massive game at home,” said Knighton. “We need to pick up three points every game at home from here on out for the rest of the season. It’s going to be a great test for us, but we’ll be ready to go in front of our home fans.”