FOXBOROUGH — The Revolution hope to continue their strong 2013 season Saturday night when they host the Houston Dynamo, but must deal with the memory of a string of poor results at this time last year.
The Revolution’s point total is nearly identical to last season’s at the midway point (22 points in 2012 through 17 games, 24 points in 2013 through 17 games). But in 2012, New England endured a 10-game winless run (0-7-3) in the second half, leaving any postseason hopes in the dust.
Coach Jay Heaps is aware of the demons that hovered over Gillette Stadium last summer. But he thinks with a renewed mental approach, the Revolution can stay hot in the summer months.
“I think last year after watching the film, it wasn’t an issue of fitness,” Heaps said after practice on Thursday. “I think it was more the mental approach, getting caught in a situation where we didn’t get the results we needed. For me, we’re [now] two completely different teams.”
Heaps thinks the team’s depth is a strength, and said there is still plenty of pressure that motivates MLS’ best defense to perform both on game day and in training.
“For me, those four [Andrew Farrell, Stephen McCarthy, Jose Goncalves, and Chris Tierney] are doing a nice job getting the majority of the minutes,” said Heaps.
“But you have guys like Darrius Barnes and A.J. Soares pushing for time. We have a pretty good competition going on in the back four. When you have competition, guys are fighting for their spot and when the time comes they’re going to push for it, and then they’re going to push harder for it.”
Goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth has started the past 14 games, but knows veteran Matt Reis is almost level in the pecking order.
The 26-year-old keeper, who is tied with Portland’s Donovan Ricketts for the most shutouts in MLS with eight, is a big reason Revolution opponents have failed to score at Gillette Stadium since May 11 (a span of 395 minutes).
In order to keep a strong home form, Shuttleworth knows the Revolution have to follow a formula that’s easier said than done.
“Winning games,” he said. “It’s pretty simple. Just staying focused and not allowing ourselves to be complacent and happy with where we are in the table.
“We definitely feel like we deserve [to be higher] and we’re not happy with where we are.”
Houston (7-6-5, 26 points) is in fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings and occupies the last playoff spot. The Revolution (6-5-6) can leapfrog the Dynamo in standings with a win.
“[Houston] is a good unit,” said Heaps. “They’re in every game. They make it difficult no matter what, and they have good technical players.”
The Revolution can start to toss away last year’s midseason misery with 3 points Saturday night.
“There’s definitely a belief in the locker room that we can go somewhere,” said Shuttleworth. “And if we keep playing the way we’ve been playing we can make the playoffs and go from there.”
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The Revolution’s match against the Montreal Impact scheduled for Sept. 7 at Gillette Stadium has been moved to Sept. 8 at 7:30 p.m.