Jay Heaps had to do something to turn the tide on his squad's five-game losing streak going into Wednesday's clash against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
With Andy Dorman sidelined for the next 10-12 weeks, and New England's offense struggling to score since late May, the Revolution coach scrapped the 4-1-4-1 formation in favor of a 4-4-2 against one of the hottest teams in the league -- and at their home park.
But even though the tactical switch yielded a handful of chances in the first half, the second half proved to be another story for the Revolution, who were forced to stomach a 5-1 loss at the StubHub Center.
"We practice it and thought it was a good time to try a 4-4-2 with a diamond shape," Heaps told the media after the match. "With the personnel we had, we thought there were times in the game early on where we had chances in the run of play."
The first opportunity the Revolution found came in the eighth minute when Lee Nguyen played it quick off a restart inside the Galaxy end, finding Teal Bunbury, who chipped Jaime Penedo before A.J. DeLaGarza cleared it off the line.
But after Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes tallied in the 10th and 18th minutes, respectively, the game was quickly slipping out of the Revolution's grasp. Making matters worse: a 29th-minute red card to AJ Soares left the guests with 10 men.
With nothing to lose, the Revolution caught the Galaxy on their back heel in the 36th minute. Diego Fagundez guided a perfect ball into the path of Bunbury, who briefly corralled it inside the box before he was brought down by Dan Gargan. A penalty was awarded, and Gargan was sent off, giving the Revolution new life.
After Nguyen converted the penalty, the Revolution had to feel good about their chances for the second half. Sure, Soares' ejection sealed the new formation's fate before the half-hour mark. But according to Kelyn Rowe, the squad's spirits were high going into halftime.
"There was a little momentum swing at the end of the first half," Rowe told the media after the match. "We came in here thinking we can put some tactics together of where we want to play, and how we want to play with 10 men, 10-on-10, and we looked to go find another goal, because we needed to."
But dialing up the appropriate shape for the second half proved to be elusive. Three minutes after the break, Zardes scored his second goal to reclaim his team's two-goal lead in the 48th minute. And it didn't get much better for the guests from there.
The Revolution searched for answers, but they were nowhere to be found. Stefan Ishizaki's 75th-minute strike padded the lead, while Keane's second in the 78th minute only served to humiliate the Revolution further.
"We tried to find that first goal coming out of the second half and it didn't happen," Rowe said, "and from there you are chasing the game again, further and further, and pushing numbers. Obviously when you push numbers, you are susceptible to the counter, and they took advantage of that and put five on us."
While the first-half red cards posed an unexpected challenge for both coaches, Heaps said that the revamped formation wasn't the reason behind his team's poor showing on Wednesday.
"Our forwards did a good job battling," Heaps said. "But defensively, if you are going to leak goals, it doesn't matter what formation you are in."