The Revolution have played 286 Major League Soccer games since 1996. But before Saturday night, they never had produced a scoring explosion similar to the six goals they scored in a 44-minute span against the Colorado Rapids at Gillette Stadium.
Steve Ralston kick-started the attack by following his own shot off the post in the 27th minute, and Taylor Twellman concluded the spree, taking a pass from substitute Felix Brillant, in the 71st. The Revolution's 6-1 victory not only resurrected their playoff hopes (they are two points behind the Chicago Fire in the race for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot going into a visit to Chicago Saturday), it also boosted the team's confidence and credibility.
The Revolution (6-11-9) remain in last place in the overall standings, but suddenly they could have momentum with four matches remaining in the season. Pat Noonan, Ralston, and Twellman all scored twice against the Rapids, Noonan pulling into a tie for the league scoring lead with 11 goals this season.
The keys to victory were the Revolution's ability to pressure defensively (and to synchronize that movement), plus Ralston's enterprise from the right back position, which led directly to two goals. The Rapids entered the match with the best defensive record in MLS and had blanked the Revolution in three successive matches over two seasons. Ralston's goal snapped a 285-minute home scoreless streak for the Revolution and they ended a five-game winless streak.
"The outside backs were able to go up because the midfielders were holding," midfielder Brian Kamler said. "And, when one went up, the other three defenders were shifting around in back. Everyone did their job.
"Colorado has a good defense and Joe Cannon is playing great in goal. We forced turnovers in spots where they didn't want to turn over the ball. And we kept alive some balls. Whoever was in midfield -- Shalrie [Joseph], Clint [Dempsey], or Pepe [Cancela] -- held things together."
Only once had an MLS team (Los Angeles in 1998) had three players score twice in a game and, interestingly, all three scorers were from the same city (St. Louis). The Revolution three times had had five-goal games, twice in the final two months of last season. In 2001, the Revolution took a 7-1 win over the Mid Michigan Bucks in a US Open Cup match at Foxboro Stadium.
A week ago, the Revolution appeared to be fading from playoff contention. Now, they seem to have recovered the form that allowed them to rally at the end of the last two seasons. But can the Revolution be expected to impose their pressuring tactics on the Fire, a team that handily eliminated the Revolution from last year's playoffs but has slumped to a 7-11-8 record and a minus-8 goal differential this season? The Revolution have the edge in the first tiebreaker after a 3-1 win (July 14) and a 1-1 tie (July 11) with Chicago.
"Each game has a different feel," Kamler said. "We will look at Chicago this week and see what we want to do and they are looking at us and making decisions."