FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Although the heavy reverse in Utah wouldn't suggest it, New England laid the foundation for their surprising 2-0 victory over Los Angeles by employing a game plan similar to the one they tried to impose in a 5-0 defeat at Real Salt Lake last week.
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With possession at a premium for the Revs so far this season, New England boss Steve Nicol wanted to implement a more direct approach against the MLS Cup holders with Shalrie Joseph serving as the fulcrum to win the initial ball out of the back.
The approach worked in the opening stages of the contest, but its effectiveness dwindled once Real Salt Lake scored their opener and grabbed a foothold in the game, according to Revolution midfielder Sainey Nyassi.
“It was a game plan that we started in Salt Lake, but it didn't work,” Nyassi told MLSsoccer after the match. “In the first 20 minutes, we were good and then we started falling apart. It was the same formation we came out with tonight and it paid off.”
By pushing the initiative from the start and playing higher up the field against Los Angeles, New England forced the Galaxy into a more defensive posture and relieved the pressure on their beleaguered back four.
“I think we had a more direct style from the first whistle,” Revolution midfielder Shalrie Joseph said. “We just wanted to pump the ball forward and start playing in their half. Lucky for us, it came late, but it finally went for us on Marko's [Perovic] free kick.”
In order to facilitate the tactical approach, Joseph pushed higher when possible to win the initial ball up field and direct the Revolution attack on subsequent touches.
“I had permission and Stevie [Nicol, Revolution coach] gave me rights to get forward and be all over the place,” Joseph said. “Offensively, defensively, I just had to get my tail back. Tonight, it just felt good to be able to chase the ball and push the tempo of the game.”
The tempo increased as the match progressed. New England created the odd chance in the first half through Nyassi's endeavor down the right, but grasped the game with a strong start to the second half.
Two goals within seven minutes gave the Revs their desired payoff. Marko Perovic opened the scoring after 67 minutes by firing home a free kick at the far post to end his side's 347-minute goal drought. Nyassi doubled the tally from close range seven minutes later after Donovan Ricketts couldn't handle a Joseph shot deflected by Nyassi on its way to goal.
New England boss Steve Nicol credited his side for improving in its quest to win second balls after the break and settling down to possess the ball once it managed to secure Joseph's flicks.
“Once we got the second ball, we did [possess the ball],” Nicol said. “We wanted to play the game in their half of the field tonight. I don't think that was any secret. We've done that and we've got the points. We can start building from there.”
Nicol said the Revolution offered the perfect response to the disappointing effort against the Claret-and-Cobalt to secure their first win in four matches.
“I think you saw what our lads are all about,” Nicol said. "We've had a bad run, no question about it. They came out and fought as hard as they could. In the end, I think we deserved to win the game.”