FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The past four days have been a rollercoaster for the New England Revolution. And not just any rollercoaster. A really intense rollercoaster - one with a lot of loops and several sharp turns.
Assistant coach Mike Lapper took over as interim head coach midweek, the team played their third game in just eight days on Saturday night, and ultimately the players dug deep to respond to their slow start to the season with a 3-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes.
“I thought they rallied, and I was so proud of them,” Lapper said regarding the team’s performance after Brad Friedel was relieved of head coaching duties two days prior. “Obviously, the result speaks for [itself], but more than that is just the fight and the energy that they brought.”
The team went into Saturday night's match knowing that they needed to find a reaction, and while they'd set their sights on a clean sheet, they remained resolute for 88 minutes before being stung by a quick set piece. After conceding 15 goals in their previous three matches, the Revs were much tighter defensively against the Earthquakes.
“[We were] disappointed to give away a goal, but I think defensively from front to back, everybody put in the shift,” said defender Andrew Farrell. “[Matt] Turner made some good saves. They’ve got some guys who are really good players.
“Keeping a team like that with so much talent is a good job for us, especially given how we’ve been playing lately.”
It was clear that the players played for each other in this performance, both mentally and physically, with a cohesive team effort.
“I think we were able to stay compact,” said Teal Bunbury. “We had a good game plan. I think everybody bought in. If one guy maybe messed up a tackle here or there, someone was there to pick him right back up and get into position, so I think it was a team-first mentality.
“We were close to getting the clean sheet, but it’s all about three points, so we’re proud.”
The win puts the Revs at 3-8-2 through their first 13 games, and while they did concede late, it’s a big step in the right direction. The team still has 21 matches to play in the 2019 campaign, and they plan to make the most of each of them.
“It’s a building block; it’s a foundation,” said Turner after his second consecutive start. “We didn’t get the clean sheet and that was goal number one for the night, so we failed at that, but we fought to the end.
“We stayed together, and that was another thing that we wanted to make sure that we hadn’t done in the past two games, which was stick together through good times and bad times within the games, because games are really emotional."
“The possession wasn’t great, but that was a very good San Jose team that passes the ball like crazy," added Lapper. "I thought we did a good job staying in our block, staying to the plan of attack, and then countering and hitting there. I only wish that one we could have got the shutout.”
The Revs will have two quick turnarounds to strive for that shutout and build upon their positive performance, as they host the ‘Final Whistle on Hate’ charity game against Chelsea FC on Wednesday and head north of the border to play at Montreal next Saturday.