Rapid improvement

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A week after their worst performance of the season, the Revolution put in one of their best against the defending champion Colorado Rapids during Saturday night’s 0-0 draw at Gillette Stadium.

Ousmane Dabo made his MLS debut on Saturday. (Photo by CHRIS ADUAMA/aduama.com)

French international Ousmane Dabo made his league debut in the central midfield while Matt Reis stopped the only shot he faced as the Revs, playing an inspired brand of soccer, silenced the defending champs to pick up their first clean sheet of the season.

“We created chances and we worked on trying to keep our patience and pass the ball a lot better,” said Revolution left back Chris Tierney, who got the start in the place of the injured Didier Domi. “I think the chances tonight were a result of that and I think a slice of luck, a bounce here or there, and we would have gotten three points and sometimes that just doesn’t happen.”

A slice of luck may have been the only thing the Revs didn’t have all night. Learning their lesson after last weekend’s chaotic affair in Carson, the Revs returned to the pitch revitalized, playing sound, possession-style soccer that saw them come tantalizingly close to claiming three points.

In the 15th minute, Tierney delivered a dangerous free kick into the Colorado area that met the forehead of Ryan Cochrane. But, Cochrane’s nod banked off the bar, the first example of how the ball simply refused to cooperate with the home club.

Meanwhile, the Revs, with five men in middle this week, tipped the possession scale in their favor for much of the first half. With short, crisp passes and a level patience rarely seen this season, New England negated any hopes the Rapids had at taking three points.

“We did a lot of good stuff with the ball in terms of being patient and in terms of moving it into good areas,” said Revolution skipper Shalrie Joseph. “Possession-wise we looked good tonight. We’re moving the ball. There’s stuff we still need to work on and try to improve on but it’s looking positive and we can take a lot from tonight.”

One thing Joseph may need to work on, surprisingly enough, is finishing. In the 57th minute, Kenny Mansally sent in a delicious corner to a completely unmarked Joseph inside the area. But, the captain unconvincingly nodded right to Matt Pickens, who slapped it aside to keep the Revs off the board.

“It was a good ball by (Kenny),” said Joseph. “I was in good spot. I just have to put that one away.”

And yet, the Revs refused to relent. Their form held from there, as they engineered more runs to the final third, hungry for the goal that had eluded them all night.

A prime opportunity to devour it came one final time in the 74th minute. With the Revs once again in the Rapids’ half, Benny Feilhaber sent it wide to Nyassi down the right wing, where the Gambian took it and continued his run. Looking up to examine his options, Nyassi deferred back to Feilhaber, who brushed it off the side of his right foot toward goal before it clanked off the crossbar.

“I just wanted to put my foot on it to guide it in,” said Feilhaber. “The ball just didn’t seem to dip. I was just a bit unlucky in the end.”

Despite the painful misses, the Revs never backed down. They made a number of runs at the Colorado backs, only to come up empty handed each time. It was a theme that clearly frustrated manager Steve Nicol.

“We didn’t create enough with the bit of ball we had in their final third,” said Nicol. “That’s disappointing. We have to do better. We’re not going to win games unless we do better with the ball in the final third.”

While they may not have won the game, it was clear that something greater – perhaps a moral victory – may have been achieved even though the Revs were kept off the scoresheet.

“In games like this, you have to take the positives,” said Tierney. “We definitely created enough chances to win the game. So, we’ll take that and we’ll move onto the next one.”

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About Brian O'Connell

Brian O'Connell serves as editor and staff writer at New England Soccer Today. He's also the Revolution beat writer for ESPNBoston.com, and is Officer at Large for the North American Soccer Reporters. He regularly contributes to The Associated Press, and has been featured on MLSSoccer.com & RevsNet.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BrianOConnell21 or contact him via e-mail at BOConnell21@aol.com