<
>

Revs defense bails out offense

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The way Juan Agudelo looks at it, every Revolution game brings two distinct challenges, and both occur concurrently.

The first, of course, is the one their opponent presents every week. The other is the one the Revolution’s fledgling offense takes upon itself to play to the same standard as the Revolution’s stellar defense.

But after the Revolution offense struggled to create chances in Saturday’s 0-0 draw against D.C. United, Agudelo couldn’t help but feel that he and his attacking teammates didn’t match the efforts of the back four.

“I think it’s pressure (on the offense) because we let (the defense) down today,” Agudelo said after Saturday’s game. “They did their job -- they didn’t give up any goals.”

The Revolution defense certainly has done its job over the last four weeks. Since giving up a 55th-minute goal to Loyd Sam in a May 11 contest against the Red Bulls, the back four has allowed zero goals, good enough for a 395-minute shutout streak, the longest active run in the league.

On Saturday, the defense was its stingy self again with the basement-dwelling D.C. United in town. Although their downtrodden opponent, who has cobbled together a league-low six goals this season, saw a few opportunities near the New England net, the defensive effort remained stout.

“I thought we were very organized again,” Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth said after Saturday’s game. “The guys played really well in front of me, didn’t give away any chances -- (maybe) a couple half chances -- but communication was good across the back line with Scotty (Caldwell) and everyone put in their shift and we stayed pretty organized.”

While the back four, which has remained intact for each of the club’s four consecutive clean sheets, and Shuttleworth were keeping D.C. at bay, the front four, with Agudelo often leading the charge, couldn’t solve their opponent’s high-pressure game plan.

“Our final pass was a little bit off,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps said after the game. “Our spacing was a little too tight and once we got in their final third, they were bending, not breaking.”

With the attack stuck in a rut, the defense knew the burden would fall on them to salvage a point and keep D.C. from pulling off the upset. And once again, they rose to the occasion to keep the opposition off the board.

“Every time we step on the field we want to get the shutout, we want to keep the zero,” Shuttleworth said. “The guys have been really, really good. The back line has been super organized. The shape has been good throughout the entire season.”

Even though D.C. was able to pressure the defense into conceding nine corner kicks, the two stats that the Revolution backline will surely hang its hat on are these: one shot on goal, zero goals allowed.

Yes, the game may have ended with the proverbial handshake. But Agudelo, who failed to muster a single shot on frame, didn’t hesitate to declare the winner of the intrasquad competition between the front four and back four.

“The defense was better than us,” Agudelo said. “We have to be better, and I feel like we have to apologize to our defense for working so hard.”