FOXBORO Steve Nicol wasnt at Gillette Stadium on Thursday morning. The New England Revolution coach was on his way back from Europe as his team practiced under the watchful eye of assistant coach Steve Myles.
Myles playfully described Nicols trip as a holiday. But even he knew that wasnt true.
Nicol wasnt playing games when he called out the Revolution following Saturday nights 0-0 draw with the Colorado Rapids. He meant what he said when he threatened to go out and acquire another attacking midfielder or forward.
Threat may seem like a strong word, but Nicol knew what he was doing. And Revolution players knew why he was in Europe. He was scouting, in preparation to make a move before this summers transfer window closed.
Its a move that Nicol said the team needed to make after being shut-out for the second straight game on Saturday. And as serious as he was, perhaps he also had another plan: motivation.
If they arent, then they shouldnt be in the game, said Myles, when asked if Nicols postgame message motivated his players to step it up, offensively. If theyre taking notice of what people are saying, then at the end of the day, youve got to be looking over your shoulder, saying, Well, Im going to make sure, if they do bring anybody in, he aint gonna be taking my spot.
The fellas should be looking over their shoulder and saying, Im going to be making sure Im doing my best, to keep my position. And if everybody does that, obviously the whole level of the team rises.
Thats part of the plan, at least. The other part of the plan, is to actually acquire another creative piece, in the absence of Marko Perovic, who didnt train this week because of a left knee injury.
Without him, Revs have struggled in the final third.
Marko is definitely our most creative player, said Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph after Thursdays practice. Not having him out there has definitely been a huge loss to everybody.
Hes disappointed, were disappointed, said Myles. Hes one of our creative players. So anytime youre missing that type of quality on the team, obviously it affects the team.
But, in saying that, if somebodys out, then its somebody elses fortune to take his place, and make sure they do the right things. We cant dwell on that. Weve got to get on with it, get on with what weve got, and try to do the best we can with what weve got.
Nicols message after Saturdays scoreless draw was directed towards everybody. But even more so to Joseph and recently acquired attacking midfielder Benny Feilhaber.
Those are the two players that need to step up. Both had golden opportunities on Saturday. Joseph was robbed of a header with a fantastic hand save. Feilhaber hit the cross bar.
Tough breaks for both players, sure. But its that inability to finish in the final third, that has haunted the Revolution this season.
Both heard Nicols latest message. Both are motivated to take charge in Perovics absence.
I think me and Benny are being a little bit more offensive minded, and getting on the ball, said Joseph. Weve got to find ways to create more chances and be a little bit more deceptive on the ball, especially in the second third.
We take it as a personal challenge. Coach was just calling us to step up as being team leaders.
Guys have to realize, its a business, said Joseph. Theres 11 spots to start out there, and youve got to work hard to be in the first 11. So if you want to keep your job, youve got to put the work in, week in and week out. Its important that, whoever he brings in, comes in and adds to our team. We cant just bring in somebody thats not good enough to make our team better.
Danny Picard is onTwitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.