New England Soccer Today

Subpar Second Half Dooms Revs

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

After a slow start in the early minutes of Saturday night’s match at the Portland Timbers, the New England Revolution looked to have settled in and threatened on the counterattack for the rest of the first half. That all changed in the second forty-five minutes as the Revolution were thoroughly outclassed by the Timbers and kept on the back foot for nearly the entirety of the half, finally conceding goals to Fanendo Adi in the 86th and 89th minutes to fall 2-0.

“I thought our best stuff was probably from 20 minutes on until the end of the half and then they came back out again and we never got control in the second half,” said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps to the media after the match. “I felt our first half, I was happy with. Second half in the end we were just giving up too much space and too much pressure.”

Statistics don’t always tell the full story, but on Saturday they were pretty representative of how the game played out as New England was outshot 12 to1 in the second half, including a 4 to 1 edge in shots on target. The Revolution were also outshot in the first half 6 to 3, but New England held a 2 to 1 advantage in shots on goal in that period and actually outshot the Timbers overall 3 to 2 after a rough opening 11 minutes.

 “The second half they came out and they wanted it more than us.” – Revolution defender Jose Gonclaves

The worrying signs were everywhere for New England in the second half. After an impressive first half passing accuracy of 86%, the giveaways and sloppiness picked up in the second half with the Revolution passing at just a 74% clip. Defensively, the team was successful on just 41% of its attempted tackles in the final forty-five minutes, compared to 70% before the break.

Things got even worse in the final five minutes of the half, plus stoppage time, when New England was outshot 4 to 0, lost all six aerial duels, didn’t win a single tackle, and conceded the game’s only two goals. The team also failed to record a single interception or clearance as Portland ran roughshod through the Revolution defense.

“It’s not a way you want to end a game. It’s something we really need to focus on. It’s happened a couple times this year,” said Revolution midfielder Kelyn Rowe to the media after the game. “Just have to buckle down and get a point on the road, it’s just something we need to do. Two goals in the last five minutes, you know, we know that and we know that we can be better and we will.”

While some may question Heaps substitute decisions in the second period, it’s difficult to argue that that’s what turned the game in Portland’s favor. The Revolution were already struggling mightily before a single change was made, with the team being outshot 4 to 0 in the second half before Heaps made his first sub.

Further, while Andy Dorman, in particular, played a key role in the Revolution’s success in the first half, especially with his impressive 30 for 31 (97% passing), he clearly was struggling to have the same impact in the second half with just five passes attempted (four completed) in 39 minutes of the second half before being substituted for Daigo Kobayashi. Dorman was making his first start in three games due to Jermaine Jones’ injury. He’d only gone 90 minutes in a match twice since the start of May.

“[Andy] Dorman I thought really ran out of gas,” Heaps told the media postgame. “Unfortunately, I think he was doing a lot of work and that’s where we need to keep the ball. Center midfield gets punished if you don’t keep it so bringing Daigo [Kobayashi] on to try and give us an outlet and in some way a play rather than to just continue to take in on the face.”

Heaps also noted he brought on Kevin Alston in the 64th for Teal Bunbury to help shore up the defense and Sean Okoli for Charlie Davies in the 78th minute to add size up top.

Although the subs may not have been the cause of the collapse, something was clearly off for the Revolution in the second period and it’s not the first time in recent weeks the Revolution have faltered late.

“We knew it was a tough place to come and play,” said Revolution defender Jose Goncalves to the media. “I think the first half we were in there. I think we pressured well, the ball, and created some chances. Obviously they had some chances but the second half they came out and they wanted it more than us. The last 10 minutes they had a lot of chances. I mean we knew that they were going to make everything to try to get the three points and it’s tough. We have to move on to the next one.”

The Revolution, now winless in their last six, will get their next chance to end their poor run of form when they face the Chicago Fire on Saturday, June 13, at Gillette Stadium at 7:30 p.m.

“I think we need a win,” said Rowe. “We haven’t gotten one in a while and we need to put together a full 90-minute game. I think we deserve it and I think we fight for it but we haven’t actually done it and I think we will this week.”

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