If there is anything that will make a difficult start to the 2014 schedule — road games four out of the first five weeks — easier for the Revolution, it would be getting the first win out of the way. They will get their second shot at that Saturday when they take on the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park in Chester, Pa.
For the Revolution, it’ll be “Season Opener, Take Two,” of sorts. They dropped their first game to the Houston Dynamo last week, 4-0. Houston scored in the second minute and held a 3-0 lead by the 23d.
It wasn’t exactly the beginning New England was looking for after a first-round exit in last year’s playoffs.
“We didn’t start the game well,” said defender Chris Tierney. “That’s our focus this week — first and foremost defending well, which we didn’t do and we take responsibility for that, myself included.
“So we’ll look for a much sharper start and make sure we defend first and hopefully play our game after that.”
Added coach Jay Heaps, “There wasn’t really one area that didn’t need improvement.”
The Revolution will also look to reverse their brief history at PPL Park. They took the season series with the Union in 2013, but both wins came at Gillette Stadium. They have been far less successful in five visits to Chester since the stadium opened in 2010. In fact, they have not won once.
New England earned ties in the first two matchups there, then fell in the next three, with Union forward Jack McInerney netting the game-winner each time.
Heaps noted, however, that this Union team is different from last year’s, with a rebuilt midfield. Argentine Cristian Maidana and Maurice Edu, on loan from Stoke City, are a big part of that.
Neither took long to contribute. They both assisted on Philadelphia’s only tally last week in a 1-1 tie with Portland. McInerney’s goal midway through the second half held up until Portland’s Gaston Fernandez found the back of the net four minutes into stoppage time.
In goal for New England will likely be Bobby Shuttleworth, who is in his first year as the full-time starter. Shuttleworth owns a 1-3 record against Philadelphia, but the lone win was a shutout.
Count Shuttleworth among those wishing to put last week’s loss behind as quickly as possible.
“That wasn’t an ideal start for us, but it’s something we have to put behind us,” he said. “We have 33 more games to go. We have to remember what we did last season and try to use that and build on that for this season.”Tim Healey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @timbhealey.