New England Soccer Today

Finding the back of the net

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – One-hundred and eighty-seven minutes without a goal. For the New England Revolution, it’s becoming an all too familiar story this season. The Revs (2-3-4, 10 points) enter Saturday’s showdown with the Vancouver Whitecaps (1-4-5, 8 points) on the back of being shutout in two consecutive matches and four of their last five MLS games.

The pressure is again on Feilhaber to lead the Revs attack on Saturday. (Photo by CHRIS ADUAMA/

Blame it on injuries, bad luck, or a lack of chemistry. Whatever the excuse may be, it’s clear that the Revs simply are struggling to find the back of the net over the past month.

“We didn’t create enough with the bit of ball we had in their final third,” said Revs head coach Steve Nicol after their scoreless draw with the Colorado Rapids last Saturday. “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 that mantra could apply to just about any of the Revs recent matches, the team has yet to find a way to fix it. U.S. International midfielder Benny Feilhaber was brought in to add creativity to the Revs attack and paid immediate dividends in aiding the Revs to a 3-2 victory over a defensively inept Sporting Kansas City side on April 23rd, but the Revs have yet to put their name on the scoreboard since.

Nicol thinks bringing new blood into the squad may be the answer.

“We have to sign someone who’s creative in the next transfer window,” he said. “It’s something we’re trying to do, and we’re looking at now. But we need to do it and be more creative. “

But that won’t be any help to the Revs on Saturday or the immediate future. For now, the current Revs need to step up and once again they will have to do it without reigning team MVP Marko Perovic, who opened the scoring against Kansas City, but has been out with a left knee sprain since.

That means the onus will once again fall on Feilhaber and captain Shalrie Joseph to lead the Revs attack as wingers Zak Boggs, Sainey Nyassi, Kenny Mansally have all proven to be far too inconsistent in Perovic’s absence to be counted on to provide good service to Danish striker Rajko Lekic the box. Fortunately for New England, Vancouver has struggled defensively and like Kansas City, could be provide the opportunity to spark the Revs offense to life.

And Perovic won’t be the only key player out due to injuryon Saturday.  After starting his first league match last weekend, Ousmane Dabo will be joined on the sidelines by fellow countryman Didier Domi, who will miss his second straight match with a left quadriceps strain.

Chris Tierney slotted in seamlessly for Domi in Saturday’s 0-0 draw against defending MLS Cup Champions, the Colorado Rapids and will be expected to do the same again on Saturday. Pat Phelan, who is back off the injury report, could fill in for Dabo.

Regardless of whom plays Saturday the Revs will be hoping to test Vancouver ‘keeper Jay Nolly, who ranks among the league’s worst having saved just 63% of the shots he’s faced, early and often.

The squad should certainly see Saturday’s matchup as winnable and one in which the offense could find more time and space, but the team needs more than just three points. A victory will mean little if, like three weeks ago against Kansas City, it is just a blip on the radar instead of the start of some offensive consistency. The Revs need not only need to find their offense this weekend, but also make a statement that it’s back for good.

Saturday’s match kicks off at 7:30p.m. at Gillette Stadium and can be seen live on Comcast Sports Net New England.

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