New England waited for Seattle to arrive with a two-game winning streak in tow. The composition of the modest run – a 2-0 triumph over Sporting Kansas City and a 2-1 victory at Toronto FC – looked more impressive than it proved in practice. These were not emphatic displays. They were gritty and persistent efforts to grind out three points in matches when a point for each side appeared far more likely.
The ability to transform results breeds the sort of unwavering confidence necessary to push onward and thrive on a higher plane. It also offers the reassurance to cope with a few minutes of adversity against a good team like Sounders FC without suffering any lingering consequences.
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Seattle swarmed forward in the minutes after the opening whistle. Bobby Shuttleworth produced a fine save on Obafemi Martins inside the first five minutes to maintain parity. The visitors threatened to acquire firm control of the proceedings through their endeavor, but they ultimately paid dearly for their inability to do so.
Patrick Mullins offered the first response by opening the scoring inside the first 15 minutes. The goals came thick and fast afterward through earnest and sharp work on the counter. The second, third and fourth – Diego Fagundez’s first two goals of the season either side of a Teal Bunbury strike – all followed by halftime. And then Bunbury banked off Chad Marshall seconds after the interval to complete the scoring by the 46th minute and snuff any fanciful thoughts of a Seattle revival.
“You gain confidence by getting results,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps said in the wake of his side’s 5-0 win at Gillette Stadium on Sunday evening. “You train hard for those things. There are times – situationally – where we need to get control of that game. I didn’t think it was going to be a goal, but I wanted to get a sequence of passing. Fortunately, it was a goal that got us out of the funk a little bit.”
Some of the culpability fell squarely upon the visitors. Seattle pressed forward too eagerly – particularly with its fullbacks – and stumbled when asked to stem the Revs’ swashbuckling work on the break. The reliance on the usually potent attack is justified most of the time, but the awkward adjustments in the defensive shape and Mullins’ center forward play left too much space in front of the rearguard for the Revs to combine. They took advantage to unceremoniously conclude Sounders FC’ five-man winning streak.
“We know we’re going to lose some games this year, but I thought we threw too many people forward and left ourselves exposed on the counter,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “I thought they did a good job of countering today. They executed well when they got forward. It’s just a game we have to forget about.”
New England will spend more of its time trying to place the victory in context. This sort of performance – a clinic on making the best use of time and space (best example: Teal Bunbury and Diego Fagundez on the fourth goal) against a side completely out of sorts – can inflate confidence and lead to a dip in energy, focus and quality the next time out. It even happened last year when the Revs routed LA Galaxy by the same score last June and then played to a turgid 0-0 home draw against D.C. United the next weekend.
The next step presents exactly the sort of hurdle a team can overcome with a keen sense of its strengths. New England has produced results without the injured José Gonçalves (right quadriceps strain) and the recuperating Kelyn Rowe (trotted out for the final 20 minutes after recovering from a hamstring strain) by relying on a cohesive and organized defensive shape (no goals conceded in four home matches this season) and trusting in its ability to churn out results.
As Heaps noted after the match after the focus drifted away from the underpinnings of those results, this team isn’t particular interested in making statements or veering away from its foundations. This group must adhere to those tenets to build on this recent run and move toward its objectives at the end of the season.
Five Points – Week 10
Harrison Shipp scored a hat trick to propel Chicago to a thrilling 5-4 victory at New York on Saturday night.
1. Nine goals, two hat tricks and one cathartic win in Harrison: Chicago claimed its first victory of the season in rather dramatic fashion at Red Bull Arena. Leander Schaerlaeckens filed this on-site report from the 5-4 thriller.
2. Trouble continues for Montréal and Philadelphia: Sporting Kansas City exacerbated the problems in Quebec by easing to a 3-0 victory over the 10-man Impact in an affair eventually transformed into a low-resistance training exercise for the champions. Frank Klopas needs more effort and more structure out of his team in order to improve results. This particular Tweet from Impact investor/operator Joey Saputo will not ease the tension ahead of the Canadian Championship second leg against FC Edmonton in midweek:
Nos supporters méritent mieux. Il y aura des changements, je vous le garantis. Our fans deserve better. Changes will be coming, guaranteed.
D.C. United nicked an early goal through Chris Rolfe and then watched the toothless Union flail around once again in front of goal before succumbing to a 1-0 defeat. Philadelphia left the field at PPL Park to a chorus of boos and a raft of fans chanting for John Hackworth’s dismissal after a ninth consecutive match without a victory.
3. Vancouver wins midfield battle to claim victory in Columbus: Whitecaps boss Carl Robinson trusted his midfield trio of Gershon Koffie, Matias Laba and Pedro Morales to cope with the Crew in possession. Koffie and Laba grasped control of the game in the early stages and maintained it throughout. Their dominance in the middle of the park paved the way for Erik Hurtado’s stunning goal (his first in MLS, by the bye) to snag the deserved points with a 1-0 victory at Crew Stadium on Saturday.
4. Galaxy complaints about the waning stages in Portland ring true: Robbie Keane scored in the second minute of stoppage time to give the Galaxy a 1-0 lead at Providence Park. Juninho raced clear behind the Timbers line with the Galaxy one goal to the good. Darlington Nagbe tracked back and nudged the Brazilian midfielder to the ground. Referee Armando Villarreal theatrically waved Juninho to his feet and permitted play to continue.
It looked like the wrong decision on first and second glance. And Diego Valeri’s late winner – a far-post effort Jaime Penedo probably should have saved and a shot the Galaxy rearguard definitely should have prevented – only stoked the Galaxy’s fury after a fine performance yielded just a draw. Their point – at least in this instance – is a valid one indeed.
5. Javier Morales concluded the weekend on a very positive note: Morales buzzed around and pestered Houston throughout Real Salt Lake’s 5-2 victory over the 10-man Dynamo. His pervasive influence – including his first three goals of the season – altered the course of the affair and urged RSL to play the critical initial stages at a tempo too brisk for Houston to match. His best moment, however, came after just 15 seconds: