Before Ben Olsen's side visits Gillette Stadium Saturday afternoon, the Revs are aware their defensive record needs to improve. After all, this past weekend's 3-3 draw with the Houston Dynamo was marred by goals against that were avoidable in their own ways.
"Gladly we got a point on the point, but we want to solidify things," Andrew Farrell said to The Bent Musket Tuesday after practice. "Like I've said plenty of times before, for us to be the team we want to be we've got the attacking powers, but we got to lock it down defensively. We watched the film, seen the things we need to work on and hopefully we can bring that number down to zero and get the first clean sheet."
As Farrell alluded to, earning that first clean sheet is easier said than done, as early-season jitters are still lingering some and the defensive unit is bound to grow with each passing game. Helping that cause is familiarity amongst New England's defenders, which can often take months to foster.
Bobby Shuttleworth, Chris Tierney, Jose Goncalves and Farrell have played dozens of MLS games together, while presumed starter Je-Vaughn Watson is an MLS veteran and showed well against Houston. With all that established, the Revs feel their defensive record is bound to improve.
"Every game we're going to get better and better and more comfortable," Farrell said. "Four out of the five guys are back from last year, but every relationship in the backline is growing and there's different matchups you have to work on and get better. We're looking forward to progressing and being better."
Another factor in New England's defense is the role Gershon Koffie takes on. The holding midfielder, who was acquired this offseason in a trade with the Vancouver Whitecaps, urged he's slowly "getting the chemistry" with his teammates.
Tasked with shielding Farrell and Goncalves, Koffie added he's comfortable alongside both Kelyn Rowe and Scott Caldwell, and wants to avoid sweeping conclusions about New England's defense after just one game. Rather, he's focused on how the Revs can improve collectively and individually, all aimed towards earning a win when D.C. comes to town.
"The thing is we don't really think more about them, and we just focus on us and how we're going to win this game," Koffie said to The Bent Musket Tuesday at training. "They're welcome to our home, but this is our fortress and our home and we're going to do whatever it'll take to get three points."
Confident that defensive form will come with time, the Revs are aware a stern test awaits Saturday. D.C. boasts several talented attackers who Farrell and Koffie both remarked are shifty and quick, the least of which are Fabian Espindola, Chris Rolfe and Luciano Acosta.
They'll threaten Shuttleworth's goal in myriad ways, but with a home crowd on its side, the Revolution feel a clean sheet is attainable.
"We just have to be aware, help defensively if our outside backs need a little help and then everyone shifts across," Farrell said. "It will be a good matchup for us and a different look than what Houston gave us, but we're ready for the challenge."