February 18, 2017
Agudelo scores early, but Revolution squander lead against Rapids
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Juan Agudelo scored in his first appearance of the preseason for the New England Revolution, but the team fell, 3-1, to the Colorado Rapids, 3-1, at Kino Sports Complex in the Desert Diamond Cup on Saturday.
Agudelo (19th minute) opened the scoring, flicking in Chris Tierney’s corner kick, the third Revolution (2-2-1) goal off a set piece in the preseason. The Revolution controlled the run of play through most of the first half, with chances on a curling attempt by Lee Nguyen and a strong shot from Kelyn Rowe. Caleb Calvert (44th) equalized and Dominique Badji (45th) broke the deadlock off a cross.
“It felt great,” Agudelo said. “Most importantly, I thought we connected very well. You definitely saw the chemistry there. Like I said, it’s a pleasure to play with my family again.
“Yeah, actually I was a little bit surprised. But after five minutes, it just started flowing. I thought we did pretty well.
“I think it was like four different types of weather going on out there, but we adjusted. We tried to adjust at times. It’s preseason, so we need to be a little bit sharper in some areas, but that’s all.
“There are some games at Gillette that we’ve had like that. There are some games in Colorado that we’ve had like that, so it’s good to sort of adjust your game to the weather. Fix the screws a little bit, tighten them up, get a little bit sharper in all areas and continue on doing what we’re doing, because I felt like we’ve been improving every single day.”
Strong winds and rain swept through in the second half, Calvert (60th) scoring as a Brad Knighton clearance got caught in the wind. Cody Cropper (seven saves) replaced Knighton in the 61st minute.
“You come in looking to try to accomplish a few objectives in each game,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. “You try to progress your group and tactically, you’re trying to add things. For about 35, 40 minutes it was really good, and then situationally, we found ourselves in trouble and we gave up two goals right before half. I think it’s a good learning experience, because those were bad goals to give away at the time we gave them away. Then the second half, dealing with the elements that were really getting progressively worse as you went along. This is why you’re here for preseason. It’s beautiful one day, and then the next thing you know it’s difficult to deal with on the next. It’s good that we have elements to deal with, because we’re going to have elements during the season and we have to be able to react and understand the complexities of it.
“I think one of the things that we want to take away is that we could’ve been a little cleaner in front of goal and finished our chances and not have to deal with the elements in the second half – be ahead enough where you can deal with it. I think the chemistry’s coming. There were some real positives. The scoreline was difficult, but in the end, I thought there were some real positives we have to take from it, but with a lot of learning experiences to go with it.
“Juan’s been around for a while. We know Juan, they know Juan, players know Juan. It’s great to get him back in there.
“I think we’re all feeling each other out right now. I’ll focus on us, because I thought we’ve been progressing and getting better and adding Juan back into the mix really adds an element of firepower for us. But getting them all on same page is key and I thought for a good 35 minutes there, we were all on the same page. I think also we were pressing well, we were doing a good job defensively, and then the last 10 minutes of the half – actually the last two minutes of the half – we didn’t defend well and we got punished. I think that’s one thing we’ve been doing really well and when we turned off for just two minutes, it gave us two goals.”
Said Nguyen: “It’s still preseason mode right now and we’re gearing up to try to be ready for that first game, and we got a little bit of a taste of what we’re going to see in March. Obviously, we want to try to work on not letting up the soft goals that we did today, but there were some good things to take away from the game. Attacking-wise, there were some flashes of good stuff. We’ve just got to finish those chances. We created a lot of chances, so that was good.
“This was Juan’s first game back with us [in] all of preseason, so it was good to see that he came back in and the attack was still fluid. Basically, all of our attacking pieces were there, so this was a good little preseason test for us and we know there’s some things we’re going to need to go back and work on.
“We’re all on the same wavelength. It was refreshing having him back playing with us. I think these next two weeks as we all get fit, get a little bit sharper, those final pieces will start coming together.
“We obviously don’t want to let up three goals like we did during that time. Obviously, that second half, the weather wasn’t ideal, but we’ve got to deal with that and at time same time, we did well to create chances. Now, we’ve just got to put them in the back of the net and it would’ve been a different game.”