Nicol: RSL got it right, Revolution got it wrong
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Despite the midweek excursion to Vancouver, the New England Revolution entered Saturday night's 2-0 defeat to Real Salt Lake intending to shake off the fatigue from their Canadian exertions and secure a result against the Claret-and-Cobalt.
The night did not come even close to fulfilling those dreams as the Revs fell from the ranks of the unbeaten by succumbing to a reserve-laden RSL side.
WATCH HIGHLIGHTS: New England 0, Real Salt Lake 2
“It's definitely disappointing to have a game like that [to end] a long week,” Revolution defender Darrius Barnes told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “You want to end it with a good result, but we never got a rhythm or a flow to our game. That killed us.”
The lack of rhythm stemmed from a lack of energy and a lack of quality on the evening. New England wanted to unsettle the makeshift RSL lineup from the start, but the Revs couldn't engineer a positive opening period and eventually fell behind to Chris Schuler's 27th-minute header.
“I thought we were going to come out and start well, but it seemed like we just couldn't get anything going in the first half,” Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth said. “They have a half-chance and they score, and now we're trying to fight back. In the second half, they get a quick goal. It's hard to play when we're trying to claw back.”
Paulo Jr.'s cool finish two minutes after halftime blunted the impact of Revolution coach Steve Nicol's halftime changes—Sainey Nyassi and Ilija Stolica came on to facilitate a switch from a 4-5-1 formation to a 4-4-2 setup—and forced the weary home side to chase the game against a composed and confident RSL outfit.
“We were heavy-legged and we didn't have a lot of spring, but they came in and did it right,” Nicol said. “Give them credit. They had a good shape. They didn't make any mistakes. They cleared their lines and then they relied on guys breaking. They got it right and we got it wrong.”
The night turned from bad to worse for the Revs after Shalrie Joseph and Pat Phelan were ejected in the late stages. Both central midfielders will now miss next Sunday's trip to Houston.
“We would definitely like to get those guys back for next week, but we're going to have to deal with it,” Revolution forward Zack Schilawski said. “We felt like before the season that we were a pretty deep team. We'll have to prove that on Sunday in Houston and hopefully some guys will step up.”