On its face, the Revolution’s 0-0 draw to the Whitecaps could be viewed as a testament to a stout performance from New England’s back four, which only conceded two shots on target to a dangerous Vancouver attack.
But according to center back A.J. Soares, who played a key role in Saturday’s clean sheet, the reason the Revolution were able to pick up their first point of the season wasn't merely limited to the efforts of his fellow defenders.
“I think the key thing was getting pressure on the ball up the field,” Soares said. “Our midfield and our forwards did a good job defending. When our front players defend well and hard like that, it makes the back line’s job a lot easier.”
The concept of team defense – from goalkeeper to the farthest forward up the field – has long been a point of emphasis for coach Jay Heaps. Under their third-year coach, the Revolution often show a propensity to apply pressure on opposing defenders and deep-lying players.
But unlike their performances in Houston and Philadelphia – which both resulted in losses – the footballers from Foxboro pressured both the ball and the player early and often. Not surprisingly, the Revolution were able to collect their first clean sheet of the season – and against one of the most dangerous offenses in the league.
“We just kind of cleaned everything up and anything that got through,” Soares said. “Obviously, good communication along the back line, covering each other, just the simple things like that (helped us).”
jay Heaps a Bunbury Believer
While the defense was the name of the game last weekend, one aspect that hasn't quite come into its own is the Revolution attack.
The addition of Teal Bunbury paid early dividends during the preseason, with the former Sporting Kansas City striker scoring twice in three games with his new team. Since then, though, the 24-year-old has been largely silent during the regular season. Even so, Heaps isn't down on Bunbury, who’s shown flashes of his attacking instincts during the first three games of the season.
“I think Teal has done excellent,” Heaps said. “He’s continuing to push hard. He had a couple of half chances the other night that, I really think, will be chances, but he shows he’s got pace to get behind (defenses).”
Heaps believes that all his star striker needs to make an impact is time and opportunities, both of which he believes will come before long.
“Right now, it’s just a matter of (players) continuing to get familiar with each other,” Heaps said. “(It’s about) how is (Bunbury) going to play with the guys like Lee (Nguyen), Kelyn (Rowe), Daigo (Kobayashi) and (Steve) Neumann, and how are those guys all going to connect with each other centrally and then the players wide with Saer (Sene) and Diego (Fagundez), and all of those guys getting on the same page.”
Soares looking forward to playing at Buck Shaw
Thanks to the unbalanced schedule, the Revolution will be making their first appearance at Buck Shaw Stadium on Saturday against the Earthquakes for the first time in two years. And for at least one Revolution player, it’s been a long time coming.
Despite the narrow pitch and cozy confines of the stadium, Soares, who grew up in the Bay Area, is anxious to stepping back onto a pitch where he’s played countless times during his younger days.
“I love the stadium,” Soares said. “It’s a great place to play and I really like playing there. I think we'll be fine - it’s a nice grass field and it’s a place that I think we're confident we can go and keep the ball and get some goals.”