RJ DEMELLO - Monday, April 22, 2013
Through six games the New England Revolution have the dubious title of joint worst offense in Major League Soccer.
The team sits ninth in the Eastern Conference with five points, thanks in large part to their strong defensive play.
The next step for the Revolution to get their season on track and fighting for a playoff spot is to get the goals flowing. So far this year the team has only put two efforts into the back of the net. The first a Jerry Bengston strike in a 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire and the second a Brandon Barklage own goal in their recent 4-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls.
Head coach Jay Heaps thinks that the rough numbers so far aren't for lack of trying.
"It's not for lack of getting numbers to attack," Heaps told Full Volley. "We're not defending with 10 and 11 guys behind the ball, (and) bunkering in."
According to the second year head coach, it isn't an issue of tactics; it's more of an issue of sharpness.
"I really feel that we are attacking, were just not attacking all that well," the former Revolution right back emphasized. "We're really trying to attack, it's just we haven't been in sync."
Thus, Heaps said the team spent a lot of time recently trying to build their relationships in front of goal. Working also on simple attacking strategies Heaps felt they were lack in such as, "moving the ball quicker, (and) finding areas where we can get behind (the defense)."
For Kelyn Rowe, the solution seems even simpler, "as funny as it sounds it's just putting the ball into the back of the net." The UCLA product has started four of the teams six games usually deployed on the right wing in New England's seemingly preferred 4-5-1 formation.
Rowe believes that the team has the players in place; they seem to be just one step away from the finished product right now. As the winger says, "we have players who can score like Lee Nguyen, like Jerry Bengston, Saer (Sene) hopefully coming back soon, Juan Toja- they're always in the right spots it just putting that last ball in."
The former US youth international echoes the sentiments of many on and around the team who are awaiting the full return of forward Saer Sene. Last year's leading scorer has recently played two games as a substitute, going 30 minutes against the Red Bulls Saturday. The team shares the hope that his full return to the lineup will help on the offensive side of the ball.
Until then, New England will have to hope they find that final pass that Rowe referred to. Their 4-1 loss over the weekend is disheartening on both ends. They continue to struggle in front of goal where their only goal Saturday was an own goal thanks to Brandon Barklage. However, this is the first game where the defense really showed some holes.
A simple conclusion from Heaps on the offensive effort so far this season, "It's got to be better; it's got to be more clinical." They look to do just that heading into their game at home Saturday night against the Philadelphia Union.