<
>

Rookie anchors Revs' offensive burst

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- On Saturday, Revolution striker Patrick Mullins became only the second rookie in MLS history to score in four consecutive games. But the way his coach tells it, the goals are just an added bonus.

In the four weeks since Revolution coach Jay Heaps put the two-time Hermann Trophy winner up top, the New England offense has horded 14 goals in four games.

But even though the rookie striker has shown himself capable of putting the ball into the back of the net at the pro level, Heaps has been more impressed with the unglamorous aspects of Mullins’ game.

“I think Patrick does an excellent job pressuring, holding the ball up, and allowing players to get forward,” Heaps said following Saturday’s 2-1 win over D.C. United. “It wasn’t pretty. I thought D.C. did a nice job with their two defensive midfielders and they won every second ball, they shielded their back four really well.”

In other words, D.C. approached the match well aware of Mullins’ importance to the Revolution offense. Instead of going with a single defensive midfielder, they doubled up in an attempt to neutralize the scorching Revolution striker.

To their credit, the game plan worked to perfection in the first half. The surging Revolution, who scored a total of 10 goals in their previous two, were not only held off the board, but they didn’t find the slew of chances they uncovered against Seattle and Philadelphia in recent weeks.

“D.C. United is a great team, and very well-organized and well-led from the back,” Mullins said. “It took a while to beak them down.”

However, the second half would prove to be a different story for the Revolution. And it wouldn’t be long before they discovered a crack in D.C.’s armor.

Ten minutes into the second stanza, Diego Fagundez speared into the box, but had the ball taken away from him at the last moment by a sliding Jeff Parke. Undeterred, Fagundez quickly reclaimed it, then put a short pass on the plate for Mullins, who broke the scoreless deadlock on a quick-triggered shot.

“I thought (Fagundez) was going to take it all the way,” Mullins said. “But as a forward, you just have to stay alert and ready for any kind of rebounds and the ball came to my feet, did some quick footwork in and out, got it on my left foot, saw a tight angle, just wanted to lift it.”

The goal not only set the table for the Revolution’s fifth straight win, but it also tied Mullins with Damani Ralph for rookie scoring streaks with his fourth in as many games.

Although the goals have put him in rarified air for MLS rookies, Mullins was quick to point to the source of his success during his remarkable run.

“Hard work,” Mullins said, “and doing what the team needs from me, and that is hold the ball up, work hard defensively, make it easier for the guys behind me. As an attacking player, I’ve got some skills to where I can find the back of the net, and if I do the other parts of the game well, then I think those chances will fall to me.”