New England Soccer Today

Taking a Stand

Photo credit: Jeff Bernstein

Photo credit: Jeff Bernstein

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – While a lot of attention was focused on the Revolution’s attack on Saturday, the team quietly collected its third straight shutout in its 3-0 win over Orlando City.

It’s the first time that New England has had three straight shutout wins in the regular season since a string of wins back in 2013 when the Revolution beat Houston (2-0), Toronto (2-0), and the Galaxy (5-0) in late May into early June.

“I think everyone wants to defend and work hard and that’s why we’ve had a shutout the last three games,” said Revolution captain and center back Jose Goncalves. “I think everyone has a good mentality and everyone wants to make sure we don’t concede any goals and then score when we can score.”

Although Orlando was missing two of its top attacking options Kaka and rookie Cyle Larin – who have a combined 20 goals as the clubs top two leading scorers – the Revolution’s game plan from start to finish helped offset any attack that Orlando attempted.

The Lions were held with just one shot in the first half which was a strike from distance by Pedro Ribeiro but it bounced once before Revs goalie Bobby Shuttleworth collected it. In the second half, Orlando had three shots on target, but none of them serious chances. Orlando’s best chance came late when Adrian Winter found himself with a chance in the box but Shuttleworth cut down the angle and made the save.

The other chances, which were mostly counter attack attempts from the Lions, were thwarted by Goncavles and Andrew Farrell.

The game against Orlando marked just the sixth time that head coach Jay Heaps rolled out the back four of Farrell, Goncavles, Chris Tierney and Jeremy Hall. The first time was in late June in a 2-1 setback to Columbus. The next time was in late July in a 2-2 draw against Chicago. The back four has remained unchanged since that game and the team has gone 4-0 with only one goal against.

“It’s always better when you don’t have to change because it’s the spine of the team and if you can keep the same line game after game it’s good for us,” Goncalves said. “After a while we understand each other much better than we started to play together as a back four. It always takes time, you must communicate, you must be aware of the movement that your partners are going to do. For me as a defender the communication is very important. We defend first and then go forward. First we concede no goals then we go forward and win the game.”

The tandem seems to have truly clicked now with Shuttleworth behind them but they’ll be quick to remind you it’s more than just the four of them.

“It’s team defending,” Tierney said. “I always say it, it’s not just the back four. It’s position from our team from front to back. It’s pressing up the field and not letting teams have good possession in our half. It’s a full team effort, I think everyone’s really upped the tactical side of the game and taking up good positions when we don’t have the ball and I think that’s why we’ve kept a decent defensive record in the last five or so games.”

The defense will face a stiff test in the next game as the club goes on the road to take on Toronto. In two games this year, the Revolution have allowed just two goals against Toronto (Michael Bradley and Jonathan Osorio). Sebastian Giovinco, who is currently in second in scoring in the league with 17 goals, has been held in check both times.

“It’s very important the defense doesn’t concede,” Goncalves said. “If we make a mistake then it’s a goal and then we’re running backwards. For us it’s good for the back four to keep focus. We put a lot of focus on ourselves to not concede a goal and play well and simple and make sure the other strikers have as less touches as possible.”

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