Revs set to press Chivas USA hard on Friday
CARSON, Calif. – The time for modest approaches and modest goals has long since passed.
When New England coach Steve Nicol urges his players out onto the field for Friday night's clash at Chivas USA, he expects them to play a bit more aggressively as they attempt to secure the win required to start a three-game road trip with a positive result.
“We really need to be coming here and forcing the game,” Nicol told MLSsoccer.com after the Revs went through a light training session at The Home Depot Center on Thursday afternoon. “We always talk about playing away from home, and it's on the other team to kind of force the game.
“Obviously, we need to make sure we start the game properly, but when we can, we need to try and get after them at certain stages.”
The newly discovered emphasis on attacking play away from home comes with an inevitable caveat. The eagerness to press forward in the hopes of replicating last Saturday's offensive outburst in a 3-1 home victory over Seattle must coincide with the necessary pragmatism required on the road, according to Nicol.
“We're really looking to win the game,” Nicol said. “We're not going to do that if we're sat in our half of the field. But again, we have to be smart about it. It's not cavalry charging. We have to pick and choose the right times when we get forward and when we defend.”
Selecting the right times likely dovetails with selecting the correct players. Nicol will have to do without the suspended Marko Perovic after he picked up his fifth booking and the corresponding one-match ban last weekend.
But he faces also questions about whether to restore Cory Gibbs at left back and Sainey Nyassi at right midfield after the duo missed the Sounders FC victory through suspension and international duty, respectively.
The situation will force Nicol to weigh the claims of several players – Kheli Dube (right midfield) and Seth Sinovic (left back) submitted assured performances last weekend in place of the missing duo – as he contemplates his starting XI.
“It's a bit of both [worlds],” Nicol said. “On the one hand, we have choices. On the other hand, we obviously don't have Marko. So we gain one and lose one, but whatever happens and whoever replaces Marko, we're more than confident he'll do a good job.”
All of those choices must lead to one mandatory conclusion as the Revs seek to arrest their road woes (1-8-1 on the season) and keep their faint playoff hopes flickering for another week.
“We need to get three points,” Nyassi said. “We can't afford to lose or maybe tie this game. We need to win. Hopefully, if we win it, we will [be in a fight] for a place.”