Ask almost anyone in Major League Soccer and they'll express that the formula for success is simple: win at home and draw on the road. Throughout the New England Revolution's 2016 campaign, that former element has been hard to come by, as Gillette Stadium has seldom guaranteed three points.
In fact, the Revs have only accrued seven of a possible 15 points at home thanks to four draws and a solitary win on April 1 against the New York Red Bulls. With a three-game home stretch upcoming before a break for the summer's Copa America Centenario, the Revs have their eyes set on making Foxboro a fortress once more.
"It's a mentality, that kind of overall energy of when a team comes in here knowing it's going to be difficult to play and play against us, and if they slip up we're going to punish them," head coach Jay Heaps said after Tuesday's training session. "I feel like we have the mentality of no one wants to come and play against us, but we've let some teams off the hook here and ... no one's settled for anything, but we took draws."
While the mentality Heaps referenced isn't absent, it's arguably taken on a different form this season. New England held a 17-game home unbeaten streak until it was usurped by the Vancouver Whitecaps on June 27, 2015, and the Revs' last three home contests - against Toronto FC, the Portland Timbers and Orlando City - have all ended with one point instead of three.
Mindful of those results, it's evident that the margin of error between a draw and a win is finite. It's practically non-existent, according to Heaps. Whether it's a wayward shot here, a poor clearance there, or any other miscue, they've added up for the Revs in 2016.
"Right now every mistake we make or any turnover near midfield or in our defensive half is trouble for us," Heaps said. "We have to be better and make sure we clean those up and fight and defend until the end of the game."
For right back Je-Vaughn Watson, it's pressing that New England starts climbing up the Eastern Conference table. Its 0.91 points per game is second-worst in the league, and three points will be ripe for the picking when the Chicago Fire visit on Saturday evening.
"Sometimes in the game you're tired, but you have to dig deeper in terms of trying to grind out a result, because in MLS even if a team is down 3-0 they're not out, they're always going to keep pushing," Watson said after Tuesday's training session. "You have to try and dig deep and capitalize on your chances, because when you think about, whenever we got scored on that's when we start with more urgency."
Quite simply, the desire for three points has reached a fever pitch, according to center back Andrew Farrell. He's endured plenty of ups and downs throughout his four professional seasons, and urged that it's time to turn the 2016 season around.
"I think it's a do-or-die kind of thing," Farrell said after Tuesday's training session. "Obviously we'll take it one game at a time, one play at a time, but we've got to get points here at home. We've got to make sure we get the points. We'll take Chicago first, but it would be good to go into the break with nine points at home."