Revolution reset for season’s second half

Defender A.J. Soares (left) and the Revolution look to end their midseason slide on Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Galaxy. (AP Photo/Kim Raff)
Defender A.J. Soares (left) and the Revolution look to end their midseason slide on Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Galaxy.

FOXBOROUGH — The button exists only in the world of FIFA’s soccer video game.

You’re down multiple goals at halftime, or you lost a top goal scorer to injury in the 15th minute, or your opponent is thoroughly outclassing you — hit “reset” and everything’s erased.

The Revolution (7-8-2, fourth in the Eastern Conference) have hit that button symbolically, vowing to learn from the first half of the Major League Soccer season while also shifting the bulk of their focus to the second half.


Starting Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Galaxy at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. — at the halfway point of the regular season — the Revolution, losers of five straight league matches, will have what every struggling team covets: a fresh beginning. A clean slate. A reset season.

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“Seventeen games in, we’re in a position where we control our destiny going into the second 17 games,” coach Jay Heaps said before Monday’s training session on a Gillette Stadium practice field. “I look at it as a restart, and a new season starting today.”

If Heaps, a forward thinker, were to publicly address his players about their turbulent first half, he might say something like this:

All right, boys, we’re here: At the second half with 23 points, 8 behind the conference leader, in a position to control our destiny.

We didn’t secure our first point until the third game of the season, but then we caught fire, embarking on a five-game winning streak from late April to late May — remember our 5-0 thrashing of the Sounders, the best team in the league? — propelling our rise to the top of the East.

Then the shots that were finding the back of the net started missing it, and we lost, and lost again — five in a row up to now, tied for the league’s longest streak this year. Now here’s our chance to put all that behind us, to begin anew.

And, to their credit, his players believe.

“At the beginning of this season if you were to say you’re going to be in fourth place at the midway point,” defender A.J. Soares said, “I think we’d be fine with that.”


“That’s our mind-set now,” winger Teal Bunbury said. “Not looking in the past anymore. Looking forward.”

When they look, they’ll see the Galaxy (6-3-6), who haven’t lost a league match since May 17. LA’s attack — led by Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, and sparked by the rise of Gyasi Zardes — is explosive, and its defense has the lowest goals-against average in MLS.

Heaps called the Galaxy one of the best teams in the league. Soares and Bunbury said the Revolution will have to be watchful of LA’s skilled offensive triangle — Keane and Zardes as strikers, Donovan underneath as an attacking midfielder — every second of the game. One mistake, they know, and they could suffer the same fate of their past five league matches.

“They’re dangerous from all over the place,” Heaps said. “We have to respect that, and find ways to show our strengths as well.”

Those strengths are stretching the field — with Bunbury along the right flank and Diego Fagundez and Chris Tierney along the left — while allowing probing midfielder Lee Nguyen space to distribute and create, and maintaining their defensive shape. They won’t alter their philosophy, Bunbury and Soares said, to cater to the Galaxy’s.


“We just have to focus on ourselves, because if we start focusing too much on other teams that’s going to take away from our game,” Bunbury said.

No matter their approach, and if history is an accurate judge, the Revolution will likely have to score first to win. They are 6-0-0 when they strike first and 1-8-1 when they don’t.

“That’s a real problem,” Heaps said. “But it’s not something you say, ‘OK, stop letting goals in.’ It’s not something that simple.”

The first drill during Monday’s training was uncomplicated: soccer tennis. The players, relaxed and laughing, split up into several teams of two, a makeshift net between them and their opponents. They were allotted three touches and one bounce before they had to send the ball back over. After about 10 minutes, Heaps made an announcement: The next team to 3 points wins, no matter the current score.

He reset the game.

.   .   .

Revolution midfielder Andy Dorman was placed on the disabled list after he suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee last Saturday against Chicago.

Dorman will miss a minimum of six league matches.

  Revolution at Galaxy

  When, where: Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. at StubHub Center, Carson, Calif.

  TV, radio: CSN, WBZ-FM (98.5).

  Records: Revolution 7-8-2, 23 points; Galaxy 6-3-6, 24 points.

  Formations: Revolution 4-1-4-1; Galaxy 4-1-2-1-2.

  Goalkeepers: Revolution — Bobby Shuttleworth; Galaxy — Jaime Penedo.

  Referee: Ricardo Salazar.

 Out: Revolution — Andy Dorman (MCL strain); Shalrie Joseph (calf strain); Galaxy — none.

  Comments: The Revolution have lost five straight league matches and start the second half of their season against the Galaxy hoping to regain the form that powered them to the top of the conference earlier this season. LA is unbeaten in league matches since May 17. The last time the teams met was last season in Foxborough, and the Revolution won, 5-0, with goals from five different players.


Rob Harms can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @harms__way.