Possession the name of the game for Revolution

Nicol, New England convinced that owning ball key to success

CARSON, Calif. – Every New England player knew it would take
a good night of ball possession to secure a result this past weekend against Chivas USA.

The three previous meetings – all victories by the Goats without
a Revolution goal scored – reinforced the consequences of giving the ball away.
Revolution coach Steve Nicol even harped upon the importance of keeping the
ball against the possession-oriented home side in the buildup to the match.

Despite those entreaties and a few promising signs early in
the contest, the lessons did not take hold in a's 3-0 defeat at the Home
Depot Center.

At a couple of points during the contest, it appeared that
the Revs – presumably bolstered by pairing Benny Feilhaber and Shalrie Joseph
in central midfield as part of a 4-4-2 setup – might just heed the advice.

“I think early on, we had a couple of decent bits of
movement,” Nicol told MLSsoccer.com after Saturday’s match. “Zack [Schilawski] had
a header and [Zak Boggs] put a couple of balls in, so early on in the first
part of the first half, we had a wee bit of the play.”

Those positive indications soon faded away as the Revs gave
away a goal after 22 minutes and struggled to reproduce their competent opening
period in its aftermath.

Chivas USA grew in confidence after the goal and stamped its
will on the match, while the Revs failed to bring Feilhaber and Joseph into the
match and struggled to string together passes as they tried to alter the course
of the game.

“I think not trusting each other in tight spots and tight
spaces [hurt us],” Joseph said. “We started to go away from that early in the
game. We started to find feet in the first five or 10 minutes but, as the game
went on, we just went away from that. That's going to kill us, especially
against a good team like Chivas and on such an open field and a big space to
play in.”

The inability to retain possession and push numbers forward
hurt New England as the match progressed. By failing to keep the ball on a
regular basis, the Revs were forced to assume a more defensive posture. Even
when they managed to win the ball, they struggled to cobble together the
necessary sequence of passes because they lacked the composure, the energy and
the quality to do so.

“When you're under pressure for so long, eventually when you
do get it, you don't have the strength to use the ball well,” Nicol said. “The
longer the game went on, the harder it became for us because of that. We were
doing all of the chasing and the running and that catches up with you
eventually.”

The heavy defeat at Chivas USA provided yet another example
of the peril facing the Revs when they cannot keep the ball. Joseph said his
side must improve its work in possession in order to put itself in a position
to secure a result against Colorado on Saturday.

“We didn't take care of the ball, we didn't move the ball
well and we didn't create chances,” Joseph said. “We just weren't inventive
enough to put one in the net. We're going to have to move forward from there
and try to get one next week and try to win next week.”