New England Soccer Today

Room for Improvement

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – There’s been no shortage of criticism when it comes to the Revolution defense in recent weeks. Not that it’s entirely undeserved.

Whether it’s the 10 goals allowed in their last four games, the revolving door in the middle, or the fact that nearly every error seems ripe for immediate punishment, one thing is clear: the backs have seen better days.

But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing left to prove for this much-maligned unit. In fact, with two games remaining in the regular season, defender Darrius Barnes believes that there’s one thing the defense can do to cut down on the mistakes that have plagued them.

“It all boils down to everybody individually making their game better,” said Revolution defender Darrius Barnes. “It’s all about putting the work in and getting better on your weaknesses and trying to tighten up on your strengths.”

They’ll certainly have to put in some work with the third-place Columbus Crew in town. During their August 13th match, the Revolution escaped the first half of their match with a 1-0 lead. But holding onto that lead for the final 45 would prove to be a challenge.

“It was pretty even in the first half,” said Revolution right back Kevin Alston. “Then, in the second half, they just kept pushing and they didn’t let up. I think that made it tough for us.”

Tough, indeed. After an own goal put Columbus level with New England, Julius James and Emlio Renteria put the Crew on the board late to give them the 3-1 win. Needless to say, the Revolution are hoping that Saturday night’s rematch isn’t a reprisal of their mid-August meeting.

“We just have to stay focused,” said Barnes. “They took advantage of a little lapse where we lost focus and tuned out, and they punished us for it. It’ll be necessary for us to make sure we’re all tuned in for 90 minutes.”

Tuning in for the full 90 is a start against contender like Columbus. In addition to focus, Barnes believes that taking care of the basics will be crucial to his club’s chances against an opponent they haven’t beaten in Foxboro since 2006.

“If we can go out there and move the ball around and stay tight defensively and do all the small things well,” said Barnes. “We’ll have chance.”

That’s all the Revolution are really asking for at this point. A chance. A chance to shine amid a darkened season. A chance to celebrate an elusive win. A chance to blast the music in the locker room. A chance to silence their critics.

It would be easy to lose focus and dwell on the numerous defeats. But Alston believes his teammates are far from ready to throw in the towel, even if the only thing left to play for is pride at this point.

“We just need to stay positive at this point,” said Alston. “It’s really easy to get down and negative when things aren’t going well all season. We can’t just give up. We have to make ourselves and our fans proud and at least put in an honest effort.”

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