FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The way Revolution coach Jay Heaps sees it, his team’s recent defensive woes aren’t just confined to the back line.
Despite conceding the fewest goals in the league at the midway point of the season (14 through the first 17 games), the Revolution haven’t been nearly as sharp in recent weeks (eight goals allowed in their last three), with Saturday’s 3-2 loss at Chicago serving as the latest reminder of that.
“Put it this way: all 11 players were in a position to make plays on, quite frankly, all three goals,” Heaps said. “So we need to make plays -- not just center backs or outside backs. Forwards need to defend, midfielders and keepers (too), so there are 11 guys on the field that can make a play.”
Heaps isn’t alone in that belief, either. Revolution center back Jose Goncalves also believes that the Revolution, as a group, must to make it more difficult for the opposition to find the back of the net.
“It’s team defending and team attacking,” Goncalves said. “I cannot (name) names and say he defends very badly. We were losing balls (in Chicago) and we have to get faster back behind the ball and we didn’t (then). From the first striker to the goalkeeper, we have to watch our back and protect every teammate so that’s the work everyone has to do.”
Heaps admits that the recent changes in the rear -- specifically at center back and goalkeeper -- haven’t gone as smoothly as anticipated, but hopes that the situation is temporary.
“I think we’re starting to get to the point now where we need to find that chemistry again,” Heaps said. “I think that’s what we were doing so well (earlier this season).”
WHAT SOPHOMORE SLUMP?
While the Revolution try to figure out ways to strengthen itself defensively, the offense has picked up some of the slack, thanks in part to the efforts of sophomore midfielder Kelyn Rowe.
In his last five, Rowe’s collected five goals and an assist, along with Player of the Week honors following his two-goal performance against the Fire on August 30.
So what’s been the difference between his rookie and sophomore season?
“I think it has a lot (to do with) not hitting that (rookie) wall,” Rowe said. “I’ve taken care of my body a lot more and not going full-blow every day, as hard as I can, in practice so I can have the legs in the game, as well as the confidence.”
Heaps, who along with General Manager Michael Burns, scouted and drafted Rowe with the third overall pick in last year’s SuperDraft, said he hasn’t been surprised by the success achieved by his second-year midfielder.
“This is the Kelyn Rowe that we see most times in training,” Heaps said. “I think you’re seeing the glimpses in games, and those finishes, for me, are all (a) bonus. And this is just the beginning of who we think Kelyn Rowe is going to be.”
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
It’s not always easy for a player to join a new team late in the season, but that’s the challenge posed to newcomer O’Brian Woodbine, who signed with the Revolution earlier this month.
Even though the Jamaican International would like nothing more than to become a major part of the team’s playoff push, Woodbine is realistic about his chances of cracking the lineup, especially as it tries to rediscover its early-season form.
“It’s going to be difficult to jump into the starting team,” Woodbine said. “But I’ll just work my way through the process because it’s going to take time.”