FOXBOROUGH — There are two stats that are conflicting and yet telling about the Revolution’s season.
They’ve been shut out nine times, but they’ve also played 13 one-goal games.
It’s a sign of how thin the margin of error has been for a team driven to be far better than it was a year ago, of how close they’ve been in most of their games, but also of how large the hump they’ve been trying to get over actually is.
All but one of their 12 losses have been decided by a goal, the exception a 3-0 drubbing to Sporting KC March 17 in which they played a man down after Stephen McCarthy was red-carded.
After a crushing 1-0 loss in Montreal last Sunday, the first word first-year coach Jay Heaps mustered was “nauseating.”
The smallest mistakes have been the deadliest, and as the Revolution have dropped to next-to-last in the 10-team Eastern Conference after a six-game winless streak, they’ve paid for them all in points.
“I read into it that we’re really close, but we’re far away as well,” Heaps said. “I think if we had let half those go our way and the others be bad luck but we’re really close. But I think where we’re at, we still have a lot of work to do.
“We took a lot of giant steps forward, and now we need to correct some of the backward steps.”
A five-game unbeaten streak from June 2-July 8 had the Revolution in sixth place, within striking distance of the conference’s final playoff spot.
Since then, they’ve gone 0-5-1, falling into a tie for eighth place (13 points behind DC United for that final playoff berth) with 11 matches left.
“We’re in a funk,” said Benny Feilhaber. “It’s a tough place to be in, especially when we should be making the playoff push right now. The games are kind of winding down, and if we’re going to make a push, it’s now or never.”
Finding offense has been an issue all season, trusting Saer Sene (nine goals) with the bulk of the scoring load, but searching for another reliable attacker.
A three-match scoring drought to start the season seemed like an aberration at the time. But over this six-game slump, the Revolution have found the net just twice, going the last 268 minutes without a goal. At the same time, they’ve been giving them up at the worst possible moments.
Last Sunday, Montreal’s Sanna Nyassi scored the eventual winning goal off a turnover in the 61st minute.
On July 29, after going up, 1-0, early on the Philadelphia Union, they allowed Freddy Adu to erase the lead with a penalty kick in the 59th minute, then Jack McInerney punched in the 90th-minute winner.
“That’s frustrating,” Feilhaber said. “It becomes important to win the tight games, and right now we’re not doing that. The games that are 0-0 in the 60th, 70th minute, we’re usually dropping by a goal. We’ve got to stay focused for 90 minutes.
“That’s one thing that’s killed us this year, getting scored on off one goal in a game or in the last minute of games. Whatever it is, it’s something we need to work on that’s just killed us this year, and that’s probably why we’re in the situation we’re in right now.”
Shaking out of the haze they’ve been in will take work, said Heaps, who added that he plans to make changes, as he has all season, for Saturday night’s road game against the Chicago Fire.
“That’s the only way you can get out of a funk is to continue to work, show up, pull up your socks, and put the work in,” Heaps said.
At the same time, Heaps was clearly frustrated with the way certain factors affected the outcome in Montreal.
“That’s the one constant that you can have in every game, because you can’t control the referee. You can’t control hand balls not being called. You can’t control ejections not being ejected. You can’t control crossbars being crossbars. You have to continue to work,’’ he said.
“We can sit here and complain about chances not going our way and it would be futile because it doesn’t lead you anywhere. So, we’re on to the next thing. And the only way to get through those struggles or wrong bounces is to continue to push and work hard.”