FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Another game at Gillette Stadium, another poor and nearly identical showing from the New England Revolution.
Fresh off being embarrassed, 4-0, by the Philadelphia Union before the Revs faithful, head coach Jay Heaps’ squad welcomed Columbus Crew SC to town on Saturday night. The formula was much of the same, though, with goalkeeper Brad Knighton receiving little help and last year’s MLS Cup finalist heading back to Ohio with a 2-0 win in the bag.
“It’s unacceptable, quite frankly,” Heaps said. “ … Two weeks in a row it’s the same plays. It’s disheartening and frustrating, but it’s on all of us to get it right. These are the times you can’t point fingers. You’ve just got to dig deeper and continue to look for the next challenge and learn from the mistakes because we’re making a lot of them.”
Most alarmingly, the Revs conceded well before the match found its identity, much like how striker CJ Sapong found net in the second minute of last weekend’s match against Philly. Only this time, winger Ethan Finlay did the damage when he bundled home a cross from winger Justin Meram with the game just eight minutes old.
Matters got even worse in the 49th minute when midfielder Federico Higuain added an insurance tally, largely the product of striker Ola Kamara stripping an all-too-careless London Woodberry of the ball in his own half. In a similar vein, the Union’s Chris Pontius and Richie Marquez respectively cushioned their squad’s lead in the 51st and 54th minutes of last weekend’s contest, nipping any comeback hopes in the bud.
“You just got to put it behind you as difficult as that is,” said defender Chris Tierney. “You just got to keep playing. Keep playing for pride. Keep playing for each other. You just got to get back to work and get back on the horse. That’s the only thing you can do.”
And while attacking intent has long been a staple of the Heaps era, the Revs were shutout yet again, just as they were last week against the Union. On that occasion, New England forced Philly’s Andre Blake into four saves. With Columbus’ Steve Clark, the boys in red, white and blue managed six shots on target.
Glimmers of hope arose when striker Kei Kamara saw his header cleared off the line in the 74th minute and striker Juan Agudelo couldn’t will a goalmouth scramble home in the 82nd minute. Still, quality chances came too little too late.
“We rallied together and we had multiple chances in the second half to get on the score sheet, and, like I said, when things aren’t going the right way, and the ball’s not bouncing the right way, and the ball’s not going in the net – but we can’t point finger,” Knighton said. “We’re all in this together, and collectively as a group, we’ll steer this ship right, I promise you that.”
Any hope for a reprieve might have to wait longer, too. The Revs have a steep hill to climb next week, as they visit the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday night and New York Red Bulls on Sunday afternoon.
Reality also hits hard in terms of playoff hopes, as nine matches remain and New England has rapidly spiralled out of the postseason picture. Compounding the Revs’ state even more is the fact they've been outscored 13-2 across their last four MLS encounters and own the league’s worst goal differential at negative 17.
Simply put, times are bleak in and around Gillette Stadium.
“I don’t even know the answer,” a dejected Andrew Farrell said. “Maybe a little bit more focus, a little bit more desire. Little things add up here and there, I think. Things aren’t going our way, and it all adds up. Obviously we’re not playing well enough.
“This is my fourth season, and every year the league gets better and better, and guys have to realize that and step up and play better,” Farrell added. “Philly last year was not that good and look at them, they’re running away with stuff. We’ve just got to step up and play better.”