With a total of 10 goals in their last two games, it’s fair to say that the scoring woes that plagued the New England Revolution at the start of the season have gone the way of a springtime frost.
But even though the Revolution are getting goals in bushels -- and from a wide range of players -- coach Jay Heaps stopped short of saying that his offense is showcasing its full potential following Saturday’s 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Union.
“You have to take it in stride,” Heaps said in a postgame conference call with the media. “But I think when we really open teams up, we set the tempo where we can put chances away.”
The Revolution certainly succeeded in putting their chances away at PPL Park on Saturday. It started with a 14th-minute header from A.J. Soares, who not only gave his squad an early lead, but also snapped the club’s lengthy scoring drought in Chester, Pennsylvania at 360 minutes.
Not long after Soares’ strike, Diego Fagundez joined his teammate on the scoresheet with a goal of his own in the 26th minute to put the Revolution in command early. Vincent Nogueira’s blast from distance in the 36th minute curtailed New England’s momentum somewhat prior to halftime. But it wasn’t enough to stop Lee Nguyen (49th minute), Chris Tierney (57th minute) and Patrick Mullins (67th minute) from piling it on after the break.
“We were clinical when we had our chances and that’s important, especially on the road,” Tierney told the media after the match. “I thought the guys took their chances well when they had them.”
Of course, the astonishing part of the Revolution’s offensive performance was the fact that five players found the back of the net. Instead of leaning on one or two players -- which is what they were doing earlier in the season -- the Revolution showed they could strike from anywhere, and in a variety of ways.
Whether it was scoring from set pieces (Soares and Tierney), from the break (Fagundez and Mullins) or building from the back (Nguyen), New England assembled its second five-goal performance in as many weeks by taking the chances afforded to them. And it was no accident that there was no shortage of takers.
“It’s not all about one person,” Fagundez told the media. “There (are) 11 guys that were playing. I think this is getting our confidence going for the next game.”
As impressive as the Revolution offense looked on Saturday, their assertiveness also proved to be its Achilles heel in the waning stages. And it nearly set the stage for an improbable Union comeback.
After Mullins’ 67th-minute strike, keeper Brad Knighton was forced to make a pair of acrobatic stops, yet could do little on Sheanon Williams’ defense-splitting strike in the 76th minute or Sebastien Le Toux’s score from the spot in the 92nd minute.
“Sometimes we're so open and getting numbers forward (that) we have to do a better job of closing the game,” Heaps said. “Unfortunately, we didn't do a great job of that tonight and that's what we're going to have to get better at."
Even though Heaps wouldn’t call it a five-star performance, he certainly sounded pleased with the way in which his team has torn up opposing defenses during the last two games.
“I think we're breaking well with good balance and getting numbers forward,” Heaps said. “We're setting each other up, and I think it's also coming down to some individual play as well.”