After allowing a combined seven goals in successive games against FC Dallas and the New York Red Bulls, the New England Revolution defense has settled back into form in recent weeks.
While two goals were conceded this past weekend against the Chicago Fire, the Revs have not allowed a goal from the run of play against since their July 11 encounter with the Red Bulls. They also managed to shut out New York City FC on July 18 and a key reason for that defensive resurgence is the play of right-back Jeremy Hall.
The 26-year-old defender played 90 minutes against both NYCFC and Chicago - out of both necessity and perseverance - and has limited dangerous players in the process. After struggling to find minutes in the first half of the season, Hall's emergence speaks volumes to his defensive presence and unwavering patience.
"It's been good to get some minutes since it's what we all want to do," Hall said. "Everyone wants to start and play. It's been kind of rocky as far as waiting for my chances to play, but I just try to stay patient and be ready and that's what I've done. Just trying to really continue to help the team and hopefully keep this stretch going."
With Hall on the right side, the Revs have made stalwarts in David Villa and David Accam look far less threatening then they are, and Hall feels a big reason for that is the team's shape.
"It's something that we really worked on and got back to our basics with our team shape," Hall said. "It's been more than just the back four, it's been all 11 guys starting with Charlie [Davies] up top. All around helping each other out and everyone has their one-on-one battles, but if a guy gets by you the other guy is there to step in."
As the Revs are slowly returning to their defensively sound ways, Andrew Farrell, the man who lines up next to Hall, recently noted how important the Tampa, Florida native has been. In particular, Hall has fought his way towards more minutes, relying on positional awareness and communication to lock down a starting spot.
"He's been great all year and finally he gets his name called up to step in and he's been great," Farrell said. "We know have depth with him, London [Woodberry], Kevin [Alston] coming back, Donnie [Smith] - we've got guys who when there name is called they can step up and do well."
Now as the Revs ready to face Toronto FC this weekend, Hall is likely to man his spot in the starting 11 yet again. With depth and competition at every spot, Hall is aware that doing that will be no easy task, though. However, much like he has all season, Hall is using that as motivation to get another 90 minutes under his belt.
"We're really just pushing each other," he said. "It's tough because everyone wants to play and guys are probably a little bummed not to be playing as much, but at the end of the day you want that competition. It makes everyone a better player and steps their game up."